Sawyer Jeremy Foreman
September 3rd, 2013
This is mine and Sawyer’s Birth Story. I am writing it because I want to remember what his amazing entrance to the world was like – every detail. When he’s seven and seventeen and twenty seven I want to be able to read it on quiet nights when I miss him being a tiny body curled against me. I’m writing it because I want to share it with him one day. I want to write my story for my grandchildren, family, friends and women everywhere so that they can hopefully find comfort and encouragement in my story and to know that an empowering birth is possible. Even when many people doubt you, including yourself. I am writing my story to challenge the lie we have been told about birth. I am writing it so that women who are at 39 weeks pregnant can read my story and go to bed at night feeling like, “I can do this”. I am writing it because it was and is an enormous, pivotal, life changing experience and it has changed me forever.
Right after giving birth to my oldest child, Beckham, I told Jeremy, my sister and my Doula, “that wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be” and I felt like I could and would gladly do it again — soon even! Perhaps some major endorphins and hormones had something to do with it but birthing Beckham was so much calmer than what I had imagined birth would be like. During my pregnancy with Sawyer I felt so excited to give birth! I looked forward to getting back to that quiet meditative state where it’s just you, your body and your baby and together you find the way. I thought I knew somewhat what I should expect of birth but also realized that every birth is different. As Sawyer’s due date came closer my confidence was weak, some days I knew my body was completely capable and other days I would look down at my growing belly and think to myself, “Wait…how exactly am I supposed to get you out of there!!??” It can be scary if you think about it too hard… At that time I began reaching out to other women who had recently given birth and asked to hear their stories so I could draw some strength from them. It dawned on me that I should message my Doula who was present for Beckham’s birth. On September 2nd and 9 days over due I emailed Shauna (my Doula) and expressed to her my fears about my sons ever imminent arrival. I told her and I had also told Jeremy that I was afraid that this birth would go really fast! I didn’t want to push for under ten minutes like some women do and have my baby violently move through me. I pushed for two hours with Beckham and it was exhausting but it was calm. I also told Shauna that my confidence kept wavering and that I might need a little buoying up. Among many other helpful words she told me this;
“Rylee, your body knows birth now. Indeed you are a strong mama. Even if your baby is born in six minutes and it takes alllll your strength to keep yourself in your skin and you completely lose control, the truth will be: that baby is in your arms and you made it! Trust your instincts and step towards your fear. Someone recently showed me the difference between confidence and courage: confidence is stepping out to the edge and facing fear and courage is jumping into it and surrendering!” That last bit about courage helped me so much! It made me realize that I didn’t need to be brave, I needed to be honest and open. I needed to be honest with my body, I needed to open up my heart and go to that fear — So naturally, after this conversation I went into labor the following day.
On the tenth day of Sawyer being overdue I had scheduled to have my membranes “swept”. This is where the doctor manually separates your bag of waters from your uterus and it can get things going sometimes. With Beckham my doctor did this twice and it didn’t work, but at ten days over due I was ripe and ready! So Jeremy went with me and it was a quick visit with the doctor, she swept my membranes and then told me to go on a vigorous walk! We also discussed what we would do if this didn’t work and we agreed that the following day I would have my membranes swept again and if all else failed I would be induced on the twelfth day if none of it worked.
After running a couple of errands with Jeremy I started on my way back home and Jeremy back to work. I called my step mom who was watching Beckham and asked her to keep him until Jeremy got off work so that I could try to relax and go into labor. I got home and got ready for a “vigorous walk” when my Grandpa showed up with two stuffed animals. One for me and one for Beckham so he would have something special for the hospital. My grandpa was planning on leaving town the next morning and was sad that he was going to miss Sawyers arrival. I gave him a hug and told him there would surely be a baby when he came back. That was at about 1:30 pm.
I started off on my walk and did about six laps and I would do lunges for a stretch of the track. After that I went home and took a bath, it was about 2:45 then. At that point I was having what felt to me like really strong Braxton Hicks contractions. They were really really tight in my belly, back and thighs but they weren’t painful at all so I dismissed them. I started having them about every 5-7 minutes so I decided to call Jeremy just to let him know. I told him that they were consistent but not painful just tight. Being ten days over due I had had many moments where I was sure I was in labor and wasn’t! So I wasn’t surprised when Jeremy’s response was, “Okay, call me if things get more serious” I hung up the phone and three minutes later I had a slightly painful contraction. Three minutes went by and I had another painful contraction, then another and another. So I called my Dr and asked her when I should come to the hospital and she told me to come when they were 5-7 mins apart and when I told her they were already 3 mins apart she said, “Well girl, I hope you have your bags packed — Please tell me you have your bag packed! How long will it take you to get here?” I told her that yes I had had my bag packed for a month now and that Jeremy was at work and it would take him twenty minutes to get home and another twenty to get to the hospital. She told me to leave right when he got there!
I called Jeremy to give him an update and to tell him that he needed to come home and get me right away and he said “Okay, I’m just going to finish up something then i’ll be on my way”, the pain was starting to pick up for me slightly at this point “Okay, but seriously don’t waste any time, come home ASAP” I said. On his way home he text me, “Want me to stop at the store and get you some coconut water?” – What a darling right?! But seriously what didn’t this guy get about “im in labor, come home right now”. I text him back in-between contractions, “No! Come get me!”. Until Jeremy got there, I walked up and down our hallway, I remember leaning over our entryway table and looking at our family pictures and thinking, “next time I step inside this house I am going to be a mother of two”.
Jeremy finally pulled in the driveway at 3:45 and opened the door to me leaning over the couch and quietly humming through a contraction, “Are you okay?,” “Yes, but lets go”, ” I’m excited”, “Me too, lets go”. We kissed and hugged and then he loaded up my bag, the diaper bag and car seat. I got into the back so I could lean over the seat during contractions. It really helped me to stay kind to others and myself during labor, I think I said “Thank you” at least 25 times throughout the experience and I really think that staying sweet that way eased the pain.
I had the song ‘Wake Me Up’ by Avicii stuck in my head the entire day so for me it’s kind of the theme song to Sawyer’s Birth! The story the lyrics tell don’t have much meaning about the birth to me, although there is irony in the lyrics “wake me up when its all over” haha. And, “feeling my way through the darkness, guided by a beating heart”. When I hear this song on the radio now I think of that drive to the hospital and how fast paced and intense everything was from then on! On the ride there I heard the song! I would have a contraction leaning over the seat and after I would turn around and talk to Jeremy, I felt so calm and normal in-between contractions. I said to Jeremy, “I think we will probably have a baby by midnight!” (*Note: I was 4 cm dilated at my appointment that morning) I tried to imagine my body gently dilating more and more for the rest of the drive. In the book ‘Ina May’s guide to Childbirth’ there’s a story of a woman who repeats the mantra, “I”m going to get huge”, so I kept saying that over and over in my mind.
We got to the hospital at about 4:15 and I checked in at the Emergency entrance. A sweet nurse saw me leaning over the desk trying to talk to the lady behind the counter in-between humming and said, “Oh yes, I recognize those sounds you must be pretty close, huh?” So she walked me up to the birth center. I was greeted by my sister and the nurse that got me situated, Lorraine. She led me into the tub room because Jani (my Dr) knew I wanted to try for a water birth again. The nurse helped me into a gown and I imagined I would walk the halls for a while like I did when I had Beckham. First she checked my dilation, “wow, Rylee, you’re at seven centimeters”. I was pretty surprised but I think I was in denial a little. When I had Beckham I had been in labor for hours before I reached a seven. After she checked me I kept on in my rhythm of having a contraction to chatting normally with Jeremy and my sister. My nurse mentioned that she knew I wanted a Doula and told me who the on call Doula was. I asked if she could please call Shauna who was present for Beckham’s birth and she agreed. The next time she came in she said, “Shauna will be here in thirty minutes” I was so happy and excited to have the same Doula that I had with Beckham. When someone witnesses you giving birth you create this unique bond with them and I felt like I was getting to see a long lost friend and we could pick up right where we left off.
At about 4:45 (I think) my nurse asked me If I would like to get in the tub and I didn’t see why not so I hopped in and crouched down into the blanket of warm water and it felt so amazing. Giving birth to Sawyer was quite different for me compared to Beckham’s birth. With Beckham I had been awake for about 36 hours, in labor for 23 of those hours and in hard more intense labor for 7 of those hours. So you can imagine my body wasn’t wasting any energy on smell, sight or sound. I was so much more in “labor land” with Beckham…everything was slightly foggy for me. I still remember it vividly, but I didn’t experience his birth quite as aware as I did with Sawyer. With Sawyer all my senses were very clear. I could really relax in the tub and notice how much it helped the contractions. I noticed everything; Jeremy’s cologne and man musk (which was so soothing to me) I could smell birth in the air and believe me birth does have a distinct smell! I felt hot and asked for a fan, I was listening to everything that was going on around me. At this point I was on all fours and rocking back and forth in the water and humming through the contractions. I remember I asked Jeremy, “Should I get out and walk around for a bit? I want to use the tub when things get harder” Jeremy replied so sweetly, “Honey, I think you’re a bit further along than you think you are”, “What do you mean?” I said, “Well remember how you said you think we will have a baby by midnight? I think we’re going to have a baby more by like 7 o’clock”, “Really?” I said.
I think I had been in the tub for about fifteen minutes when my Doctor, Jani, arrived. I had just seen her a few hours before in her office and she walked in and said, “well that didn’t take long!” She checked me and said, “wow honey, you’re at a nine! I better get my scrubs on!” Things were moving so quickly! I really didn’t accept that until right before I pushed Sawyer out. I was trying to be in my own quiet world and people were rushing in and out of the door with equipment and joyfully chatting about this and that. Jeremy had taken his usual spot of leaning over the tub to support my weight and be in my world with me but he kept looking up to respond to my doctor or nurse and I remember looking up at him like “hello?” and telling him to please “ssshh”. My Doula, Shauna walked in at about that time and I remember looking up at her and seeing that instant understanding in her eyes and I even gave her a hint of a smile. Oh how I love this woman! She came right to me and entered my world and never left my side! She had so many helpful words and was so calming. She would say things like, “Be soft Rylee” “Go to that place”, “Go towards your fear”. I love that she helped to facilitate the spiritual journey of birth.
I started to hum in a much deeper tone and got really low in the water and sensed that things were progressing. Everyone noticed the change in me, Jani checked me and said, “Rylee, you’re at a ten, you can push on the next contraction” I replied telling her I didn’t want to push until I felt the urge to and she said, “Okay, we can sit here for a bit”. I started saying that I might need to get out of the tub. – First we tried a squatting position and me sitting in the tub leaning back. My cervix may have been ready for that baby to pass through but my mind wasn’t. I kept trying to push myself away from my contractions – I would get soo relaxed during a contraction and just ride through it. I never did get that overwhelming need to push at all with Sawyer which my doctor later told me was called, “Second stage arrest” where your body stops sending oxytocin to progress your labor. I think my mind definitely affected my body here, I was a bit scared and not ready to accept a fast and fierce birth. The same thing happened when I labored with Beckham except my water broke before so after 12 hours I was given pitocen, I think I get so in my head that I actually slow down my labor process.
I tried pushing a few times in the tub but it just wasn’t working for me. It didn’t with Beckham either. I just felt like I had no leverage and nothing to hold onto for me to give it my all. My bottom was slipping out from under me and I just wasn’t feeling it. My bag of waters was bulging so on my next contraction Jani broke my water with her fingers. I had told her weeks before that I didn’t think I wanted to have it broken if it didn’t happen naturally. I felt a POP and Jani said, “well…that was semi-accidental” and we all giggled a little. I could feel the water rushing out into the tub water and the huge release of pressure and said, “oh, that feels so much better”. Jani told me that having my water broken would help Sawyer move down and maybe give me a stronger urge to push. I remember feeling a bit scared. I was SO mentally awake and a little overwhelmed at how fast things were going. I definitely wasn’t prepared for that. After mentioning again that I wanted to get out but not doing it Jani said, “she’s small enough we could lift her out” so I said “after the next contraction I will get out”. I got out with help from sweet hands and crawled onto the bed on all fours and immediately a contraction washed over me. I hung my arms over Jeremy and made my hums that were turning more into wild ‘this is intense’ noises! Being so close to Jeremy during the birth was really special. My arms were around his neck and I was in labor bringing our baby to the earth and I loved him so much in that moment. I could feel our love growing stronger and greater as our sweet family grew as well. I kept finding him for a kiss here and there and telling him I loved him. I could smell his familiar scent and I felt so safe in his arms. His presence brought me so much strength and comfort. With both births I was surprised at how great Jeremy was, so compassionate and present with me.
Sawyers heartbeat started to go down so I had to change positions. I chose to sit in an upright sitting position on the bed. This is the same position I ended up having my older son in too so it felt familiar to me. My sister and Doula were holding my legs. I continued to just sort of melt during my contractions, I didn’t feel ready yet. Because my contractions didn’t seem to have much power behind them my doctor and husband started to do some serious nipple stimulation on me which I didn’t love but it was better than Pitocen would have been! (Nipple stimulation sends out the Oxytocin hormone) I remember reaching down to feel how close baby was and I got some birth juice on my hand! My sister said that I just sort of looked at my hand and then wiped it on her!!! Lovely! I decided I would start to push on the next contraction.
Pushing was a completely different experience for me with this baby! With Beckham my body completely took over once I started to push and I involuntarily would curl into the contraction. With Sawyer it took every ounce of my strength to move that boy! I would push with allll I had and everyone would say, “GOOD JOB! We can see some head!” and then afterwards his head would slide back in. This happened for the next three contractions. I suddenly got a terrible charlie horse in my right leg (which was also something I feared I would have during labor and voiced this to my husband and close friends) I rolled onto my left side and straightened out my leg which caused tons and tons of amniotic fluid to pour out of me, I felt so much relief! My Doula later pointed out that this helped a lot because all of my water was part of why he would slide back after a push, he was being buoyed up a bit. I think it’s interesting that I not only faced my specific fears in labor but they actually helped bring my baby to me. Which is so true in labor, the pain we sometimes fear definitely brings us closer to our babies.
Sawyer didn’t like that position either, his heart rate started to drop to around 50. I rolled onto my back and his heart rate normalized again. Then after my next push his heart rate dropped again! So they gave me an oxygen mask and my doctor would say, “He’s down to 50! Down to 40! Okay we’re at 70…alright he’s good now” This should have alarmed me but I felt peaceful and that everything was going to be okay. However I did realize is was time to buckle down and get him out and my doctor said to me “Rylee, I don’t want to have to use the vacuum, lets get this baby out!” So on my next push I went to that place, towards my fear and surrendered to those overwhelming feelings I had been resisting. I pushed SO HARD! My hands were above my head holding Jeremy’s and I actually screamed with effort through those last two pushes to get his head out, something I didn’t do in my last birth. (Sawyer’s head was 14.5 cm!) Jani told me to slow down as his head was crowning but I was already SO in that place I didn’t know if I could rest and then go back so I just pushed through until his head was out! My screams were so guttural and my throat hurt for days after. His head finally came out and I was expecting to feel great relief but the cord was wrapped around his neck so my doctor had her hands inside me pulling the cord over his head. Sawyer had very big shoulders which almost got stuck so they required an enormous push as well.
This part of the birth really slowed down for me; I watched as my baby came out the rest of the way, it was amazing! I remember I said, “Oh, My God!”. I don’t normally use Gods name that way but it wasn’t in vain. In fact I didn’t even choose to say it, it just came out! It was such a beautiful moment and I really felt the awe in that God and I had truly worked together to bring this baby to be here! I called my boy by name, I said, “Oh Sawyer you’re here! We did it! We did so good! Baby, it’s you!” He smelled so perfect! He was so chubby! He weighed 8.8 lbs, was 21.5 ” long and was born at 6:03 pm. This time around I was so emotional! I knew exactly the treasure I was receiving when they laid my boy on my skin for the first time! He cried his sweet cry and I kissed him over and over again and kissed Jeremy. The love was overwhelming and beautiful!
My sister brought Beckham in to meet baby Sawyer, suddenly I was a mama of two beautiful boys! It was such a surreal moment in my life. I said to Beckham, “You were born right here too!” and he curiously/quietly watched Sawyer and said, “baby, baby, mamma” over and over again.
I spent the next hour delivering the placenta and gaining back some strength, I was pretty shaky. Before Shauna left she thanked me for allowing her to experience my birth with me, she did this at my last birth too. It meant so much to me! To have someone respect you in your birth and be such a nurturer and comfort for you is powerful. She made such an impression on me during my first birth, it was really special to have her there a second time to witness me birthing again. This woman had too given birth. She understood me. She was there for me in so many ways on some very deep levels and I cant thank her enough! She told me that my birth was really powerful for her and that she cried during it. We later emailed about the birth and she told me this, “Rylee, your birth was fast and empowered. I can relate to your trust and your wisdom because for the most part I connected to birth with my three in that way. My longest labor was 6 hours. I cried because your level of honesty and love was palpable in the room. For many I witness birthing it is more of an ordeal than a journey. A spiritual place is not somewhere many people go with birth and love is not the guide. I talk people off cliffs rather than ride the waves with them most often. I love how tender and wise you are and have been honored to join you in your journey.”
I think it’s really important that a woman is able to process her birth and come to terms with anything that happened that disappointed her or made her upset about the birth. It truly is an enormous experience and impacts our soul so permanently. During Sawyer’s birth I felt a bit scared inside…It was so intense for me. I had very specific fears going into his birth and ended up having to surrender and face all of them. It was a very wild three hours! Until I reflected back on my birth by viewing the photos and talking to everyone about it I felt a bit guilty for being scared. Or thought I wasn’t as strong because I didn’t jump in and push when my cervix was complete. Before I left the hospital I was able to realize how perfect Sawyers birth was! Hearing Shauna’s and my husbands words along with reviewing the photos that were taken really helped me to process the birth and see how truly courageous I was, indeed I did jump in and surrender to my fears! I wasn’t a coward for feeling scared, I just gave birth naturally and in 3 hours – I was a warrior woman! I’m grateful that God gave me everything I feared in birth. It was humbling and showed me that I don’t always know whats best and to trust each moment. I’m grateful that God, my baby and many helpful hands helped me find the way.
After I had my babies, both times I felt emotional that the experience of birth was over. I spend months pouring over my birth photos and pretty much quizzing every person who attended my birth about what it was like: What did I do during this part of the birth? Why did this happen? What was everyone saying about this? It fascinates me and I seriously cant get enough! After I had Beckham I was really amazed that I did it! Naturally even! Many people thought I wouldn’t be able to do it or that I was crazy to try. I wasn’t sure if I could do it, but I really wanted it and I did it! Birthing wasn’t an ordeal I had to overcome to gain my children. Laboring was the most sweet and vulnerable place I’ve ever been and at the end they placed a naked fresh baby on my skin. Somehow these sweet little people I gave birth to are everything good, kind and loving I’ve ever done and more in a precious and innocent little body. They and my future children truly are my life’s work.