March 9, 2024

Noah's Birth Story

"We came as two and left as three – our family was complete now that you were finally here."

“Zach and I wanted to share our birth story with you! We truly had the best experience at Brookhaven, one that we’ll remember for a lifetime. Thank you again for all you do to support families and empower natural birth – you changed my life! We’re so blessed to have such an awesome story for our baby girl…”

-Katelyn James


Noah’s Birth Story

Our sweet Noah girl,

When I was 35 weeks pregnant, I started having preterm labor contractions gradually one week. I had mentioned these seemingly innocent feelings to the midwife during our regular appointment, to which she suggested we keep an eye on those symptoms. That Friday (Friday the 13th to be exact), I was having mild contractions every hour the whole day. I didn’t think anything of it until your Lovey seemed concerned that evening. She encouraged me (ordered me, actually) to call the midwife, and the on-call midwife (Emily) was there within the hour. She checked me and sure enough, my body was preparing for labor. She said if I didn’t go on bed rest, we could expect to meet you in a few days. THAT was crazy to hear – we were told to expect a late delivery because of your size, and then we had to mentally prepare for a preterm baby?! Needless to say, we did everything within our control to keep you cozy and content until the time was right. We did a pretty good job, because you stayed put for another 6 weeks after that scare!

The night before you were born, it was your Lovey’s birthday and your dad and I were FaceTiming the family to celebrate. They cranked up the music and your Lovey and I had a dance party, us in our living room and her on the back porch. We danced and laughed and had a good time! Your dad and I got tuckered out, so we decided we’d call it a night around 10:00 pm.

Around 11:45 pm, I woke up in a sweat while having 3 contractions in a row. These definitely felt different than other contractions I had, as they were stronger and certainly more frequent. I got up to use the restroom and had another contraction. When I got back to bed, I woke your dad and told him, “I may be in labor, but I’m not sure.” He asked, “What makes you think that?” I told him I’d had 4 contractions in a row since waking. When I told him they happened within 20 minutes, he sleepily rose from his comfy sleep and knew it was game time. He timed each contraction with an app on his phone (smart thinking) – it was definitely game time! We called the midwife and she encouraged us to get as much rest at home as possible before coming into the center. Thus, we stayed at home as long as we could.

Labor progressed quickly while at home, as I was having contractions 5 minutes or less apart and they lasted longer than a minute each. It wasn’t long before I couldn’t talk through them and I stopped talking all together. Your dad was so great – he held a trashcan while I puked, cleaned up pee off the floor, and was there to rub my back and hold my hand for every contraction. Around 3:30 am, we decided it was time to leave for the birth center. Your dad called Lovey and Mema to let them know the exciting news! He drove as fast as he could while staying safe, and I held onto the backseat through each contraction.

We got to the birth center and it was such a relaxing environment! The lights were dimmed, the tub was already full for me, and the midwife (Emily) and student midwife (Emma) were chipper to be there, despite the early morning hour. I asked to get into the tub almost immediately, because I had been told so many great benefits to laboring in water. The water felt so good and relaxing – I never wanted to leave! Your Mema came a couple of hours later and was there to support your dad with whatever he needed.

Labor went by surprisingly fast, as it seemed every time I looked at a clock another hour had passed. I thought in my head, “Thank you, God!” though there was no way to know how long it would last. So much of labor was a blur – I kept my eyes shut most of the time to work through contractions, so I didn’t really see anything that was going on. Your dad was by my side the entire time encouraging me, helping me breathe through contractions, giving me drinks and food (I hardly ate or drank anything), and telling me that I could do it. I remember opening my eyes several times just to look at him – to get affirmation that it would all be all right, that we would get through it, and that he was still there. Each time I looked up at him, his face and voice assured me.

Several hours had passed and contractions became stronger and stronger. I felt they became more intense so quickly and they remained that way for so long. The midwife encouraged me to try different positions outside of the tub during this time. As reluctant as I was to get out, I knew I had to do it. I spent most of the time on my knees in the tub, so I chose to get on all fours on the bed – I hated laboring on the bed. I practically begged to get back into the tub after only a few minutes, which is exactly where I ended up going.

Around 9:00 am, there was a point that contractions suddenly became less frequent. I thought to myself, “Did I already hit the transition phase (the worst part in labor before pushing begins)?” I finally had some relief in between contractions, and I was immensely grateful. This is when I felt sporadic urges to push. The urges felt as if they were back-to-back, but according to your dad they were 10-20 minutes apart – the concept of time was very fuzzy by from my perspective. This cycle happened for roughly two hours, and I started to get discouraged. I thought, “If I felt urges to push, why wasn’t she coming out?” My back pain was so intense, and I didn’t know if I could continue much longer. Emily encouraged me to get out of the tub at this point to try other positions. She did a cervical check and confirmed I was 10 cm dilated – wahoo! But my water had not broken (to my surprise), and she said the sac was very strong. She encouraged me to labor on the labor stool. I labored on the stool for about 15 minutes before my water broke . . . all over the floor, all over Emma . . . it was like someone popped a water balloon made of a rubber tire! It was crazy. The pain was so intense at this point, I begged to get back into the tub.

The next hour was filled with intense urges to push, and this time they were definitely more frequent than before. It felt different, though, because I actually felt you making your way down the canal. As it came closer to your entrance time, your dad joined me in the tub as we anxiously awaited your arrival. He held my hand and let me lean on him while pushing (I even accidentally screamed in his ear). Emily and Emma were close and attentive, which made me feel reassured we were getting close to meeting you. Emma frequently put a mirror into the tub so we could see the progress. At first, I didn’t want to look because I was nervous I wouldn’t see anything and continue to feel discouraged. But the further things progressed, I would take quick peaks to see your head slowly emerging. It was so crazy seeing your slimy, little head slowly peaking its way through. I wasn’t sure how long this phase would last, but I was praying it wouldn’t last very long!

I heard Emily prepare your dad to catch you when you came out, which was comforting to know we were really close. I was really nervous to keep pushing, because the pain was intense and I was afraid to cause damage – the “ring of fire” everyone told me about was a REAL thing (again, more details when you’re older). I pushed and I pushed and then suddenly – POP – I felt your head come out! And then with one more push, you wiggled your way out into your daddy’s arms! I finally opened my eyes to see your dad holding you under water (per Emily’s instructions). He brought you out of the water, your arms flew open wide, your eyes wide open, and there you were – sweet, innocent, and brand new into the world. Oh man, that was a surreal moment. All of that hard work, those long hours finally at an end, the moment we had waited for. You were here, and you were perfect. You gave an adorable, little cry for a few seconds when you first arrived. After that, you kept your eyes so incredibly alert, soaking up the new world around you. When I held you in my arms for that first time, I was amazed. Amazed at how tiny you were. Amazed that you just came out of my body. Amazed that we finally did it. I looked to your dad and we cried together. Utterly amazed at how God blessed us with this perfect child and how He got us through this 41+ week journey. That was a tender moment.

Holding you in the tub was such a crazy, out-of-body experience. I couldn’t believe you were ours. You were slimy – oh my gosh, SO slimy! But I didn’t care, you were still so perfect all covered in goo. Emily and Emma checked your vitals to make sure you were healthy shortly after you arrived. After the first few minutes, I asked your Mema to call Lovey so she could see you. Oh man, she cried so hard. We all cried. Everyone in the room was crying. We were just so happy to meet you!

Everyone in Tennessee was so excited to meet you! Papa Bear and Uncle Josh were on the phone too when we called. Uncle Josh was sweet and shared how proud he was of me for delivering you. He reminded me that I gave birth to you the way I had dreamt – naturally, without medication, and outside of a hospital setting. I realized at that moment that I did it. I actually did it. I. Did. IT. I accomplished what so many had told me wasn’t realistic and was “too dangerous.” I overcame every single fear that clouded my mind for the past 10 months. I brought you into the world as healthy as I could, without harsh medical interventions that could harm you and me. That reality washed over me with sweet relief and utter thankfulness. I cried out of pure joy and soaked it up. I was proud of what I accomplished. I was proud of how your dad supported me through it. I was so incredibly proud of how we brought you into the world. God. Is. Good.

Your dad cut your umbilical cord after the placenta was delivered about 15 minutes after you arrived. The sweet relief after you were delivered was unreal. In an instant, I was almost completely pain free (God is so good that way). We all got cleaned up (because birth is a messy, messy thing – we’ll discuss details when you’re older) and we took turns holding you. I had to get a few stitches afterwards, but that gave your daddy some time to cuddle with you.

We were all so giddy after you came – reminiscing on moments in labor, admiring you and your sweet demeanor, and sharing in the excitement that was taking place. We were all so proud of what had just happened! Emma and your dad took your measurements – 7 pounds, 6 ounces, 19 inches long, and 13 inches in head circumference. You remained alert the entire time we were at the birth center – wide-eyed, content, and soaking up your new world.

I nursed you for the first time while at the birth center. You were a natural from the very start! It was sweet nursing you for the first time, establishing that special bond between us that would last for a long time. I just watched you as you nursed, still in disbelief that you were here and ours and so perfect.

We stayed at Brookhaven for about 5 hours after you were born to make sure everyone was in good shape before we went home. Your dad and Mema figured out the car seat and your dad put you in a diaper (with Mema’s help). Your dad and I put you in an adorable pink floral sleeper onesie and a blue unicorn sleeping cap – GOSH you were so dang cute. And just like that, we were ready to bring you home! We came as two and left as three – our family was complete now that you were finally here.

Love, your Mama

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