As far as I can remember leading up to marriage I was actually very frightened at the thought of a baby exiting my poor body. The whole idea sounded gross, traumatic and more pain than I ever wanted to endure.
When I talked about having kids I would literally shutter and tell myself that I'd just have to put it off as long as I could and when the time came I'd "simply" have a cesarean and get it over with. That's what I wanted! Little did I know (literally I knew nothing about natural childbirth) that there were other options that would be way more of what I actually would want when the time came.
Around 2014 I was slowly being introduced to moms, some that I knew and some I did not, that were having natural births — one being my now sister-in-law, Ashley. She actually had all four of her kiddos at home! Go momma! After hearing stories first hand and witnessing such beautiful birth stories through blogs and other social media, I began to realize that a natural birth was something I really wanted for myself.
By the time I got pregnant in January of 2016 I knew that this would be the route I would take. Thankfully Logan was completely on board with my decision and fully supportive of the thought of using a birthing center instead of hospital. Turns out there is a pretty awesome birthing center in The Woodlands called Nativiti where not only my mom, but several other gal pals have delivered their babies, so we decided to check it out!
This being my first pregnancy, we really didn't know what to expect as far as the role of a midwife and how the whole pregnancy process worked through a birthing center. We were given a tour of the center and were able to sit down with one of the midwives as she explained their beliefs and how they treated pregnancy. The rooms were so homey and inviting, each one with a giant tub, a nice big bed, and dimmed lights. We felt so at peace with everything they believed about birth and how the process should go, that Logan and I both knew instantly that's where we wanted to bring our baby into the world.
As the months went by, every check up went so smoothly and they really made us feel important and cared for. Not only did they sit down with us at each check up and talk for however long we needed, but they genuinely wanted to know how we were doing with everything. One of the things I respected the most was that they gave us options.
I felt like I was in control of my pregnancy and never felt like they pushed anything on me during each check up.
They really made sure Logan was just as much a part of the process as I was and that really meant a lot. I always felt like I was learning new ways to prepare my body for labor, not only physically but mentally. I enjoyed having the natural options that were recommended to me, such as what herbs to take, teas to drink, and exercises that would help my growing belly. The entire pregnancy was so easy with them and I am extremely thankful we had the option to use Nativiti for my pregnancy and delivery. This was where I felt the most comfortable and I believe every mom should feel that way no matter where and how she decides to deliver.
The beginning of labor began when my water broke at 2am Thursday morning (10/13). I was very surprised when it happened because I have heard how uncommon it can be, but just like in the movies it was a big gush of fluid. Excitedly I woke Logan up and told him what had happened then tried to go back to sleep. Contractions started within a few hours of my water breaking and by around 9am we had our Doula, Claire over to start helping. (I highly recommend a doula by the way, even with a hospital delivery. They are life savers!) I began noticing that my contractions were getting stronger; I no longer could disregard them as they were happening as I was now having to focus and count my breaths during each one. Not sure why I started this but I would count by 4’s until the contraction was over - I think because I had to focus a little harder on counting which took my mind off the pain. After about an hour and a half my contractions started coming about every 3 minutes, so we decided it was time to head to Nativiti. Talk about a pretty surreal moment, knowing you will shortly be holding your own baby! Once we arrived at Nativiti we informed our family so that they could head our way. The birthing center is like one big house, so there were nice living rooms set up for our family to wait comfortably. Little did they know how long they would be waiting, hehe.
At this point I was still breathing through my contractions with mild discomfort, but nothing unbearable. My midwife, Jami, checked to see how far I was dilated and ended up not being able to locate the opening of my cervix. It was too far forward and not in the right spot for little Remi’s head to start exiting properly. She gave me some exercises to do while I had my contractions in order to start moving my cervix into the right spot.
After eating some Chick Fil A that my parents brought me (yes I know I had CFA during labor, I win) I kept asking to get into the tub. Jami wanted me to wait a little longer until I was farther along so that it wouldn’t slow down my progress, but I really wanted to be in that warm water. After more contractions, exercises, pain and saying how great the tub looked, they finally let me get in. Oh my word did it feel great. During contractions Logan and Claire would pour water along my back and stomach and it made things a little more bearable.
At this point I am thinking, “Okay, shouldn’t be too much longer now, these are starting to really hurt.” Wow was I wrong.
Honestly nothing could have prepared me for transition, the contractions that occur while I was dilating from 7-10cm.
Now I wish I could tell you how long things took and what time it was when certain things happened, but time was just one big blur that day/night/morning. Here is where it gets really good. By the time transition started, whenever that was, I was already in so much pain. I had told Logan before labor that I did not want to make any loud noises while I was having contractions or pushing, but that all changed once I felt the immense pain that these contractions were giving me. I let out moans and screams and whines, and broke down in tears a few times exclaiming how I could not do it any longer. After a couple hours of these contractions I was completely out of it. I had been in labor for almost 18 hours so far and my body was exhausted. I remember laying on the bed as they helped stretch my pelvis during my contractions in order to help get Remi in the right spot, and I would fall asleep between each contraction (which were only about a minute or so apart). I would even catch myself not breathing because my body was trying to store as much energy as possible. I did NOT think I could keep going, I even asked for some sort of pain meds knowing that was not an option (LOL).
After a total of 4 hours of transition my body automatically started pushing. I did not know at the time what was happening but I remember it feeling good, like a relief. Jami checked my cervix again and told me to give a good push — it was time. They got the bath ready for me and had me hop in. I think I actually did hop in, I was so ready to get her out. I had somehow regained all my energy once I knew it was pushing time. The excitement of knowing my baby girl would be in my arms shortly brought my spirits up and I was motivated to get her here.
The last push
I began pushing several times with each contraction, seemingly making great progress. I was still so tired but all I wanted to do was keep pushing. It was such a great feeling, I was eager to get a contraction each time, getting very impatient if they weren't happening frequently enough. After pushing for almost 3 hours (it actually only felt like 1 hour) I could see her little head, or so we thought was little. Game time! I pushed as hard as I could as much as I could, and surprisingly it wasn’t that painful, and honestly nothing was bad compared to my contractions. Jami started helping Remi make her exit as I pushed and Logan sat next to her as he waited to catch his daughter.
One of my biggest concerns going into pregnancy was the thought of tearing (TMI I know). I really thought that there was absolutely no way around it if I wanted to deliver vaginally. Expressing those fears and knowing that they cared enough to reassure me and work with me during the birth in order to make that not happen was such a burden lifted off my shoulders. The fact that I was pushing for 3 hours and had the nice warm water around me really helped the process go smoother. I ended up not tearing! *praise hands*. I even remember at one point while pushing, with Remi's head sticking about halfway out, Jami said to me, “Now this would be the point when a doctor would give you an episiotomy.” That to me was shocking because I felt like I still had so much more time to push! I was so thankful for her patience and help while Remi’s little head slowly made her debut. The very end of pushing was a little painful, and yes the ring of fire is a very good description of what it felt like, but it was so brief I honestly don’t remember it. One more big push and her head was out. She had her hand up by her ear and her eyes were open. Did I already say how we thought her head was little?
Yeah she was about 3 times bigger than we all imaged.
Another push and out came her body. Logan grabbed her and put her right on my chest. My initial reaction was shock. Not only because a baby had just exited my body and I didn’t scream or writhe in pain, but because she looked nothing like I could have pictured. For a split second I was not sure if this was actually my baby that I had birthed or I was just seeing things, she was so big! Everyone in the room was in awe, even our Midwife and nurse guessed she would be about 6-7lbs. Nope, she was 9lbs and definitely looked like a Samperi baby. Literally every Samperi baby has been big, I should have known.
Meeting our sweet Remi
The next few minutes were pure joy and amazement. Staring at our very own baby as she cried her first cries, nothing can compare. As we both rejoiced and celebrated I sat back and relaxed with Remi as we waited for her cord to stop pulsing, still not even believing that I finally had my little Remi in my arms. Logan was able to cut the cord and then get skin to skin time with her while I delivered the placenta. It was slightly gross looking, but really awesome at the same time.
And it was finished, we now had a sweet roly-poly baby that was nobody elses but ours.
I moved onto the bed where Remi was laid on my chest in order to start feeding.
And yes, after 20 hours of being at Nativiti, my family was still there. At one point during labor I asked if it was still the 13th. Everyone laughed at me and told me what time it was. I was blown away by how long we had been there. It made me sort of feel bad for everyone, sort of. ;) Our family was able to come into the room and see her shortly after birth. Logan was the one to tell them how big she was and what her name was, because up until her birth we had not announced it.
After another hour or so at Nativiti making sure both Remi and I were doing okay we were able to go home! Tired was an understatement, my bed had never looked so wonderful. Thankfully Remi slept about 4-5 hours after we got home and we were able to get some uninterrupted rest that day. That is when all the pain and soreness of my body really hit me. Just about every muscle in my body was sore to the point of very minimal movement abilities. My tailbone was in the most pain, but after several chiropractor visits it went back to normal. The first few days we spent in bed with Remi, watching her sleep and enjoying her tiny baby noises and movements. I am so thankful Logan was there to help while I was basically confined to my bed for a week. It wasn’t until about a week or so after birth that I began to feel like I could walk around without any soreness. As hard as this birth was, I would definitely do it again. Although it was much more painful and 3 times longer than I expected, it was still the birth experience that I had hoped for. I was able to deliver in the water and had freedom to move around and use positions that felt best while I was in so much pain. I could not have done it without Logan, Claire and of course my midwife. Logan was such a great emotional support, while Claire really knew how to comfort and physically help me during my contractions. They were more than amazing! I couldn’t be happier with how it all turned out. Logan and I are enjoying our blessing every day, trying to take in every moment as we know how fast time passes. We love being Remi’s parents.
p.s These wonderful photos were taken by our sweet friend Katy Cox. She was a trooper staying by our side the whole time we were there, and she gave us such a huge blessing by taking these photos for us. Memories we will cherish forever.