In this series we share birth stories of all kinds from mothers around the globe — with the hope that they inspire, educate and inform expecting mothers. Interested in sharing your birth story? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org . Read more birth stories here.
Mama Name: Cassie (@cassiedulworth)
Baby’s Name: Freyja June
Birth Date + Location: October 20, 2018 | Irvine, CA
Size: 8lb 6oz | 21in
It’s been almost 3 months since the birth of Freyja June and I’m so excited to finally be sharing it. Honestly it’s taken this long for it to really sink in that I am a mother. I have a beautiful baby girl. My pregnancy with Freyja and birth was magical, there’s no other way to put it. It was everything I hoped for and more. And I hesitate to say that for fear of alienating those mamas who didn’t have the picture perfect birth experience they wanted. But I strongly believe that birth should not be feared. And while pregnant, I read positive birth stories and they gave be so much confidence and belief in my body. So I’m sharing mine in hopes that it inspires some of you to release the fear you may have around birth and step into a place of trust in your body, and your baby.
I had a fairly smooth pregnancy with no issues. We choose to use a midwife practice and birth center for our care, and it was the best experience. I’m one of those women who truly loved being pregnancy. Sure I got aches and pains and heartburn. But to me, the good outweighed the bad. It took awhile for me to get pregnant in the first place, so when I was, I cherished those months.
At the end of my 3rd trimester however, my fundal height was measuring a bit small, so at the advice of our midwives I ended up getting a few extra ultrasounds. Let me say here that based on her movements and my intuition I never had any fear/doubt about her growth. I could see myself growing and she moved like crazy in the womb, even though the numbers were “off.” Lesson number one in trusting my mama intuition. At every ultrasound baby girl was measuring perfectly on track.
I’ll also say that, unlike most women, I wasn’t completely over pregnancy at the end. I had prepared myself mentally that I would probably go to 41 weeks or longer, based on being a first time mom. So I wasn’t in a rush. I fully trusted that she would come when she was ready. At 40 weeks (Monday) I had an appointment and cervical check. I was fully effaced and baby was at a 0 position in my pelvis, but I wasn’t dilated. My midwife told me she thought it would still be a week or so, and I agreed. So I spent the next few days relaxing and hanging out at home. That Thursday afternoon (40+3) I felt a few changes while making dinner and started having some waves. They were not strong but consistently around 15 minutes apart. I spent the evening relaxing with Aaron, bouncing on my birth ball and just distracting myself. I wasn’t convinced yet that it was true labor.
Our plan was to labor at home as long a possible, and then head into the birth center once I was in established labor. By 2am the waves were about 4 minutes apart, lasting 60 seconds, so my doula suggested we contact the midwives. The waves weren’t super strong – I could still talk through them and was just using my hypnobirthing techniques and bouncing on the ball. The midwife on call decided to have me come in and evaluated. I felt like it wasn’t time but we went in anyway. I had requested to NOT be told how dilated I was throughout labor – to me that seemed like more of a mind game and I wanted to focus on trusting my body + baby. Not a timeline. But at this point I was only 1cm, so back home we went. At home I got in the bath to relax and get some sleep for the rest of the night.
That night and the whole next day my contractions spaced out but slowly got more intense. I relaxed in the bath with some clary sage + lavender essential oil. Or in bed trying to sleep in between waves. Throughout the day they got stronger to the point where I had to sit up and focus on my breath each wave. I was also pretty nauseous too, so I kept a bottle of peppermint oil in my hand the whole time — which helped so much!
By Friday night (24hrs. Into labor) I was getting pretty tired. But it never crossed my mind that I couldn’t do it. I was listening to Rainbow Relaxation and different affirmation tracks all day and just repeating to myself “I trust my body, I trust my baby.” Or “My body knows what to do, and I follow it’s lead.” I was having trouble eating/drinking though because of the nausea, so Aaron kept encouraging me to have sips of a smoothie or bites of oatmeal for strength. We had been chatting with the midwives throughout the day to keep them up to date on how I was doing. It’s hard to describe what the contractions felt like, but to me they weren’t painful. They were intense, and HARD. But in between them I felt perfectly fine, and I kept thinking, “It has to get worse than this, right?”
That night my waves got back to 3mins. apart so we headed back into the birth center around 4am. Walking to and from the car was the worst. I had to stop a few times to breathe through a wave and just hang onto Aaron until it was over. By then, I was at 4cm, but again they didn’t tell me this. I was pretty dehydrated though and the midwife on call was worried that it was making my contractions less efficient, so at her recommendation, I got some fluids. I’m so glad I did, because it gave me a boost of energy and got my body working well, so my contractions became super effective. The birth center wanted me at 6cm before we stayed, so I went back home to rest and labor a bit more.
She told me to go home and sleep (yeah, right) because I would likely deliver later that day. As soon as I laid down, I had a strong wave and my water broke haha! So Aaron had to call the birth center again and started with, “Hi, I know you think we’re crazy and we just left… but Cassie’s water broke.” They said to head in at 7am when the new midwife was on call. As soon as my water broke things picked up a TON. I had to be sitting forward and LOUDLY breathing through each wave. At this point, Aaron was amazing and so, so helpful for me. He was rubbing my back, reminding me to breathe and repeating the phrase “deep breath in, down & open” for me during each one. It really let me focus on my breath and staying loose, not tense. By 6am I was starting to think “I can’t do this” but at the same time, I knew that meant I was probably in transition. It was a weird headspace to be in: freaking out, but also aware of it. So I just let the feelings wash past and kept focusing on breathing her down!
We left for the birth center at 7am. It took a lot of coaxing by Aaron and our doula to get me to walk to the car because each wave was so strong. I had to stop and breathe/moan through a few during the walk, and at that point, I was considering a home birth haha! As soon as we got to the birth center I wanted to be in the tub so they started filling it up. My midwife also checked me and I was at 10cm! I had gone from 4-10cm in about 3 hours, which is why you never know how fast things are going to be!
In the tub, the waves got even stronger. I was still breathing through each one, and the water eased the intensity a TON. But my breathing was more like really loud, deep in my throat yelling or moaning. Baby did great the whole time though and was never in any distress. I labored in the tub for a bit but then I got super hot so I wanted to be on the bed. (I expected to want to deliver in the water, but I just followed my instincts and what felt right at the time!) At this point I was in my own world, and my memory of these hours is really blurry. My body took over and I was just following it’s lead. I never really got the urge to “push” but the midwife knew it was time based on my moaning & helped guide me so I knew where to focus my energy – which was exactly what I wanted. According to her I was a very effective pusher. I tried a few positions (on my side, squatting, in the tub) but weirdly ended up being the most comfortable in bed, kind of sitting up. The one thing I thought I wanted to avoid! But again, I just followed my instinct.
I pushed for about 1.5 hours, but only 6 or so waves. I so desperately wanted her to be born, and with each push I was more focused that I knew was possible. I kept asking, “Is she close?!” because I knew once her head was out, the hard part was over. With lots of encouragement from Aaron and our midwife team, I was able to push her head out! Instant relief. She had a bit of shoulder dystocia but I took a breath and gave a small push while the midwife spun her so she could be born.
At 12:26 on October 20th, with my last little push, I grabbed her & pulled her right only my chest. She was perfect and healthy and I was so in awe that I had just birthed her! I didn’t even notice tearing or any pain. All I could do was stare at her squishy face and love her. My birth team was so helpful in guiding me while also letting me really trust and follow my body. I ended up needing a shot of pitocin because I was bleeding a little much (did you know redheads are more likely to hemorrhage or bleed a lot?!). But everything was fine and we got to hang out and cuddle at the birth center for a few hours before we headed home as a new family!
I seriously had the most amazing birth experience. It was long (almost 48hrs) but I never once got fearful that things weren’t “working” or that I couldn’t do it. The course and specifically listening to affirmations everyday really cemented my mental strength and my belief in birth as a natural process. I also had an amazing birth team who made such a difference. So thankful for that and my sweet Freyja June.