• Rachel Fry

Kodiak's Birth Story

I wasn't sure I'd ever give birth to our second child because

42 weeks came and up to that point, nothing I had tried at home to induce labor was working- including castor oil.

We had been working with a wonderful midwife and we were looking forward to a natural birth at the Bellingham Birth Center.

I was starting to feel pretty anxious though because midwives are not supposed to provide care for pregnant women after 42 weeks so I thought I'd have to be induced in a hospital and while that’s the best option for many people, it wasn't my first choice by any means.

The official day that marked week 42 my midwife used a natural induction called the Foley bulb to help my cervix open up a bit more. It helped but didn't put me into labor so Week 42, Day 1, she broke my bag of waters. We did this around 12:30pm and my husband and I went to get some lunch and go relax at home. I had just got settled on the couch with my food, The Office, and breast pump in use (let's not waste the uncomfortable process of breaking my water) when I started to feel contractions. They seemed to come once I got a bite in my mouth so after getting a little bit more down I decided I just wanted to be done eating.

We relaxed on the couch for a couple of hours while contractions came every 3-4 minutes. I was surprised by how fast they were coming already so I called my midwife to let her know and she thought I should come to the birth center. So we made the hour drive up to Bellingham, but unfortunately, the drive slowed my contractions and by the time we got there they were coming 7-8 minutes apart and not nearly as strong.

My doula had met us there and both she and my midwife assured me that was normal. So we got settled and I used the breast pump again to help things get going a little faster. It helped a little but didn't really do what I was hoping- put me in active labor.

I felt like I needed to walk so we walked a couple blocks down the street, hoping that the movement would encourage my body. It was definitely too easy to make that walk. My doula thought a good meal with protein would help give my body the energy it needed. She had a similar experience with one of her births where a meal put her into transition (the last phase of your cervix dilating when your body transitions into pushing).

I figured I could go for some food now that it had been a couple hours so Chevy and I drove down to a burger joint down the road. The food definitely helped and I started having strong contractions in between bites. I will always savor those last few moments before active labor started, sitting at a little iron table in the corner of the restaurant patio, eating, talking, and contracting in the sunset with favorite person- my husband.

Once we finished our dinner we went back and before I could even get out of the car, I had a strong contraction, and another one right after I got out. I was finally in active labor. Inside, I moved around, using the birthing ball (basically a yoga/exercise ball) and walked the length of the room as the contractions kept coming. Chevy was always right there to press deep into my lower back, which was equally as involved in the contractions as they came. I remember with my daughter my back only hurt like this (except much worse in that case!) during transition so I was a little surprised I was feeling labor in my back so early on this time around.

After a couple hours or so (it's so hard to keep track of time during labor!) I moved to the toilet because it helps to open up the body. I was on and off the toilet for a while while Chevy stood in front of me, ready with water and support when the contractions came. They were really strong by this point but I was still able to keep up a conversation in between the rushes and comprehend the conversation between Chevy and my doula.

My midwife would pop in here and there to check baby's heartbeat and make sure things were still progressing. Around 9pm she checked my cervix and found that I was 7cm dilated. I was happily surprised and relieved because overall, it hadn't been as difficult to get to this point as it had with my daughter (labor with her was a total of 19 hours!)

I believe it was at this point that she thought I was far enough along that I could labor in the tub because the relaxing effect the hot water would have wouldn't slow labor down now. We had already decided though that I wouldn't be a good candidate for a water birth because last time I hemorrhaged after the placenta came out. I took her up on the offer and dang did that hot water feel good. Too good, in fact, because the intensity waned and I could feel that my body was slowing down. Because of this I got out pretty quick and used the bathroom again, lingering on the toilet for a while as the intensity picked back up.

After a little while I decided to get back in the tub and this time it didn't slow things down. In between contractions my midwife checked my progress and found that I was 9cm. The rushes were long and hard. I was starting to really fall into the space between incoherent to everything going on around me and focusing my mind on the surges of my body opening up. My doula asked if lightly pushing made it feel better so I gently pushed a little with the next contraction. The extra pressure definitely helped but I didn't quite feel ready for the real pushing- close, but not ready. My doula let the midwife know that I was close to pushing and I think she went to call the assistant midwife but I'm not really sure.

Before long I felt like I needed to use the bathroom again but only made to the edge of the tub, on my knees and bent over the side. Chevy and my doula were trying to help me up but the contractions were coming right on top of each other and I couldn't find the strength to move in the midst of them.

Thankfully, right where I was leaning over the edge was the drain lever and I had at some point pushed it down with my chest as I held on to the side to get me through each wave. My back was hurting pretty bad at this point but it was facing the inside corner of the tub away from Chevy, and I couldn't get the words out to ask him to push on it so I just let it hurt. The water was draining fast and I could no longer just breathe through the rushes. I had to make a deep growl noise to get me through each one. I would start to get more high pitched and my doula was right there reminding me to keep it low, focusing my energy into my body versus the sound I was making to cope with the utter intensity. At the same time, she was telling my midwife that I seemed ready to push and my midwife and husband were adamantly telling me to get out of the tub and over to the bed. I remember my legs slipping farther out from under me as they were telling me this and I yelled "I can't" as I was pushing my baby's head out. It wasn't until it was fully out that my body gave me a break from the pushing and I felt like I could finally get up. And by get up I mean grab ahold of Chevy's neck as he basically lifted me up and over to the bed. My legs were stiff from pushing so hard into the floor of the tub whilst trying to keep myself from doing the full on splits!

As I hung onto my husband's neck while he nearly carried me to the bed, my midwife must have noticed that the head was out and everybody told me to get on my hands and knees on the bed. I got one leg up and she was telling me to push. The urge wasn't there but I did anyways. She said that the shoulders were stuck and told me to flip over. I don't know if I did it on my own or if Chevy helped me but I made it over and at the same time she grabbed ahold of my baby and gave him a complete 360° turn and pulled him out. I didn't find out until later but the cord was wrapped around his neck and his legs and I didn't realize the fancy handling she used to get him unstuck. He wasn't breathing when he came out and apparently my midwife thought I had pushed his head out in the water so she was frantically telling my husband to call 911 and grabbing an oxygen mask for my baby. My husband was panicking and it was very apparent as he made the call and was trying to explain to the operator where the birth center was.

As soon as baby came out my midwife had placed his little body on my chest and while I didn't know exactly what was going on I saw that he wasn't breathing and while everyone scurried around I was talking to him and rubbing his body. It was chaos for a moment and next thing I remember was either my doula or the midwife laying him on the bed next to me and doing something that I also can't seem to remember while my hand was on his chest. I could have sworn I felt his heart start beating and next thing I know his eyes are open a little and he lets out a cry. This all happened so fast that my husband was still on the phone with 911 and the midwife told him to cancel the call. Thank goodness.

From the time I started pushing in the tub to when my baby was born it had only been a few minutes, maybe 7 or so. Kodiak Warren Fry arrived at 1:23am, all 9lbs 8oz and 22.25" of him.

The assistant midwife didn't arrive until a couple of minutes after I birthed the placenta, so everything that had just happened was in the hands of my primary midwife, my doula, and my husband.

I held my baby until I birthed the placenta and then Chevy cut the cord. Now for the next round of chaos.. at least we were prepared for this one. I hemorrhaged again after the placenta came out but I already had a couple of tablets of something in my cheek that was supposed to help stop it. I was finding it hard to hold Kodiak while my midwife was dealing with bleeding so I handed him off to Chevy. I believe it was right after the placenta was birthed that the assistant midwife got there so she started helping with the bleeding. I ended up needing an IV with pitocin but all in all, the active management of the known possibility that I would excessively bleed helped a lot. After a couple hours of dealing with the bleeding and checking the baby, we all tried to get a little bit of sleep before heading home.

We left the birth center around 8:30 that morning to head home and introduce our new little one to his big sister.

Overall, this birthing experience was a really positive one. Leading up to the actual birth I couldn't help but compare my previous birth to what I thought this one would be. While there were some similarities, they were really quite different and I feel like I saw a different side of my body's capabilities. I also am proud of myself for leaning into the process, surrendering my mind to my body, and at the same time keeping my mind focused on how strong I am and the outcome during the difficult moments. In particular, I never once said "I don't think I can do this anymore" in response to the rushes like I did my first time around. Whether that's because my body knew what to do so it seemed easier or because my mindset was so laser focused on my body doing what it needed to do to get the baby out, I don't know. But it definitely shows me that I have evolved when it comes to giving birth. Almost makes me wonder what the birth experience would be like for a third time. 😅. Not planning on that though!

Anyways, thanks for sticking with me as I recounted my son's birth. It just happened but the details start to get blurred as time goes on and I want to remember as much as possible. Even if no one reads this, I'll be able to look back on this special moment in time for years to come.

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