Everyone experiences the process of pregnancy, birth and raising children differently. Before last year, I had the privilege of hearing many of your stories. Today I’m excited to share mine in hopes that you may be inspired…
January 19th 2019
It’s 1:30 am and I’m 40 weeks + 3 days pregnant. I wake up to mild ‘period cramp-like’ contractions. I always hear that when they are mild, they are easy to sleep through, but I couldn’t do that very well. The anticipation of finally meeting our baby boy was so exciting! I knew that this was the beginning of the real deal. After several hours of settling into how I was feeling and the realness of it all, I dozed off for a few hours around 4-8am. It’s so cool how the body knows what you need. And I was going to need my strength.
That morning, I got up and around like I normally would. I made coffee and some breakfast for Peter and me, then sent a message to update my midwife, Margie, and doula, Cheryl. They both said similar things—eat well, stay hydrated, don’t start timing yet, and just relax!
So, we hung out on the couch and watched Dirty Grandpa. It was a hilarious movie to watch while in early labor. I did time some of my contractions here and there, which I probably shouldn’t have done to help me not focus so much on the pain I was already feeling. At 2pm I started to feel like I really needed to concentrate on my breathing to deal with some of the intense waves (contractions). That’s when my husband said, “I started to need him.”
We went about our day as normal as possible. After getting to my “due date” I knew it would be anytime, however, the reality set in that it was finally here and on HOW the baby had to come out. Holy crap!!! I was a little nervous of course, but overall felt ready and confident that my body knew exactly what to do.
Things started to pick up a lot in the afternoon and at around 3:30pm Peter reached out to my midwife, Margie. After having contractions all day long, I didn’t feel the baby move like I was used to and that was making me nervous, so Peter asked Margie to come make sure everything was all good. She listened to his heart rate, which was great, then left to go make some dinner.
Margie came back around 7-7:30pm, as the contractions were getting very intense. Peter had also sent our doula, Cheryl, a message to come. She lives about 45 minutes away, so she headed over and arrived a bit before 8pm. Sometime between 8pm and 10pm the student midwife, Melissa, and assistant midwife, Emily, got over to our house as well. A lot of details are a blur, so I’ve had to ask my husband, doula and midwife when certain things happened, or they’ve reminded me of things that had slipped my mind. But the one thing that I can say I remember is the amazing support team I had around me. Having all these women and Peter there allowed me to relax and focus on Otto—on his birth.
In my mind, I thought… ‘I’ll definitely have this baby tonight.” The intensity seemed as if there was no way I wouldn’t. After all, I had been practicing visualizing this fast, easy birth and I had already labored all day. Things were picking up, so they were only going to pick up more in my mind.
Wrong—very, very wrong was I.
I labored ALL night long.
Side note: I know this is normal. This is the beauty of the natural physiology of our bodies. The mind is a powerful thing, so when you spend an incredible amount of time visualizing how it’ll go and then the situation goes a bit differently… it throws you, naturally. Little did I know it wouldn’t be until the next morning that I would give birth to Otto. My husband said when it got to be morning time, he drew the blinds in the bathroom so I wouldn’t know what time is was because he knew it would make me anxious (he knows me so well!).
I knew that my labor was lasting much longer than I thought it would, which shook me. Thank goodness God doesn’t lay out a timeline of events of our lives or it would be too much to handle. Faith. That’s where faith comes in.
I’ve always been relatively careful in most ways, and I think entirely too much about mostly everything, necessary and unnecessary. I’m a people pleaser, I’m often indecisive and have always been sensitive. More than anything, I’m an empath. This seems like a good thing—and it absolutely is! It’s hugely a part of what makes me, me. It allows me to connect, in some way, with just about everybody because I can truly almost feel other’s emotions. However, it’s something I work on a lot because if any of you are an empath like me, you also know that it can come with unnecessary worry and anxiety, both of which I am prone to.
Over the years I’ve worked very hard on harnessing those issues. I’m a huge believer in self-care and I do my best to practice what I preach to my patients with this. If you don’t take care of yourself, you will slip into the weaker parts of your personality. Of course we will always have ups and downs, that is life, but the more we learn about the importance of self-care, tuning into our individuality and unique personality traits and what makes us feel our best, hopefully that will help those slip-ups to happen less often and gain better strategies as to handling anxiety when you feel it on the prowl.
Taking care of ourselves allows us to be our best for the ones we love.
Okay, back to the story:
Between those hours of 8pm and 10pm, Cheryl helped Peter and I so much with labor positions and just all sorts of things I had no idea would be so incredibly helpful. Our bedroom is upstairs, so we’d do things like: walk down the stairs, lap around the kitchen, walk back up the stairs, sit on the toilet, go back to the bedroom and move around swaying my hips side to side and in circles standing or sitting on the ball, going to hands and knees—then with the ball, squatting, etc. All types of positions.
From the start, we had planned a water birth. The tub was all set up in our master bathroom. Once I dilated to 8cm, I got into the tub. What I thought would be a quickly approaching birth took a bit longer than I anticipated… I stayed at 8cm for hours! Most of the night and wee hours of the morning. It was exhausting! I was existing on just a couple tiny bowls of chicken and rice bone broth soup, a few dates, a couple crackers, water and some coconut water. After a couple hours, my contractions started to stall out, so my team had me get out of the tub to see about breaking my water.
After the decision was made to break my water, Margie did so, then Cheryl helped me labor in every position possible to get things to pick back up. Throughout labor, I used a smorgasbord of skills from deep breathing techniques, yoga, tips from books like Ina May Gaskin, Hypnobirthing and Bradley Method. My breathing was slow and controlled. I did my best to relax areas of my body that had tension, which was difficult and nearly impossible for me at times.
I wasn’t surrendering and as I reflect, it was more about being afraid of losing control.
After laboring all night and into the wee hours of the next morning, slow and controlled laboring Nicole left the building. I lost it. I just laid on the floor feeling like I just couldn’t do it anymore. I told my husband and birth team how I was feeling. I had to have the baby. I thought he would never come. It was so painful and intense. I was fighting a battle in my mind thinking ‘Oh no, what if now I will have to go to the hospital?,’ which made me upset thinking about getting into a car with as strong of contractions as I was having, plus it was freezing outside and I would lose what I wanted so badly, a natural birth at home.
I think I had to get mad and fierce and voice to everybody in that room as to how I was feeling in order to SURRENDER. This was transition. My amazing husband laid next to me with such confidence in me. Telling me I could do it and I WOULD do it. I was going to do it! We say “Team Jackson” when we face hard situations or just anything that takes teamwork. He said once he told me that, I got a little pumped up and it helped me refocus. After the war with my mind on the rug of our bedroom, Peter and my birth team helped me back into the bathroom. I didn’t feel like getting into the water again, but they got me there and before I knew it Otto was about to make his debut.
As I said above, things were a bit of a blur, so here are some notes from Cheryl:
11:50 pm Nicole got into the tub. She had been feeling different. A lot of pressure and the urge to encourage bebe down.
12:25 pm Water still intact. Nicole can feel the firmness of bebe’s head with her fingers.
1:50 am Nicole gets out of the tub and goes back to the bed. Margie and Emily check to make sure her cervix is fully dilated. Cervix is a bit swollen and 8cm. Bag of water still bulging. Otto’s head is resting LOA (left occiput anterior – back of head on the left front side). There is a bit of anterior swelling of the cervix.
2:09 am – 2:12 am – 2:18 am – BREAK – 2:23 am – 2:29 am
Cheryl: I decide to time the contractions / surges / waves. Nicole has an extra bit of time between for rest. It felt like we were getting close. THEN… There is a moment when Nicole reaches her end. She feels like she can’t go on. Peter has been her rock – holding, whispering, praying for strength. We all pray together to ask for guidance and patience. Nicole is almost done!
The key word is “Surrender.” Let go and give it all to God. AND she does it!
There is a point while in the tub that baby’s head delivers and only mama knows. I see it all and choose not to say a word. Once the midwives realize bebe’s head was delivered, they encourage Nicole to turn from hands and knees to her bottom (Peter is behind Nicole). With a big push, Nicole reaches down to grab Otto into her hands. He comes to rest on her chest. At this point, everyone has tears in their eyes. Nicole cuts the cord and we transfer (without rushing) to the bedroom.
7:29 am Otto Kent Jackson was born into his mama’s hands.
January 20th, 2019 at 7:29 am. Our lives changed forever.
I birthed his head. Waited for another wave then birthed the rest of his sweet body. I caught my baby with Margie’s assistance, and we pulled him up to my chest. The cord was wrapped once around his neck, so the mama instincts kicked in and I immediately took my pinky finger and removed the cord from his neck.
There he was. Our little Otto.
Our hearts burst with love. I always envisioned the moment when I would look up at my husband, Peter and how much love would be in his eyes. When it finally happened, that moment was bigger and more beautiful than I could have ever possibly imagined. His heart beamed with tears in his eyes, looking at me… looking at Otto. Realizing what we all just did! The most special moment for our little family that I will cherish in my heart for the rest of my life.
We sat there rubbing his sweet back and body, encouraging him to get any remaining fluid out and give us a nice big cry. He was making all sorts of sounds and then there it was, the cry!
After the cord stopped pulsing, I got to cut the cord. Then came the time to help me out of the tub — my whole body felt like it just got rocked, I was so incredibly sore, in the best type of way. It was as if I had done some type of obstacle course for 15 hours. Peter took off his shirt so baby would have skin on skin while my midwives and doula were helping me. He laid in bed bonding with little guy on his chest while they got me settled. Peter said Otto sat and just stared at him in bed.
I hadn’t had much to eat in hours, so once I got into bed, Peter put baby back on my chest while he went downstairs to prepare me some yummy breakfast. He brought it up and my sweet doula, Cheryl, laid next to me in bed and fed me while we finished up the last few lovely things we needed to tend to.
Next, birthing the placenta. Jeez… being a woman! Something else has to come out of me?! For the love!
Margie was super gentle, as she always is, so it was no big deal. She carefully tugged on the cord and I pushed ever so slightly and out it came. I am one of those weirdos that think the placenta is incredibly cool. Because it is! That thing kept my baby nourished for 10 whole months! Then, they needed to check to see if I tore. I thought I did but wasn’t sure how much. Margie’s assistant midwife, Emily, did my suturing. I was so afraid because things were hurting a lot down there. She talked me through how it would go down and was very gentle. I did opt for the lidocaine shots for this one and the student midwife, Melissa, held my hand.
Before I knew it, I was all sutured up and that was done. Way easier than I was thinking. They helped me up to go to the bathroom to get a little more cleaned up. I remember it being so surreal to be standing upright, not pregnant anymore, a little tough to breathe and shaky. I asked to shower off instead, so I could feel better while lying in bed. Cheryl helped me shower and get dried off and dressed. Oh, that warm water felt nice!
Margie had started the baby exam while I was in the shower, so once I was out Peter and I got to help her weigh and measure him. All the while, I am looking at this sweet, precious, newborn in awe of how something so perfect could really be ours. People always say they couldn’t imagine life before their baby — it’s so true. In those moments during labor and birthing him, I was (and still am) so very proud of myself.
It was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life, and the most rewarding. Feeling every sensation that brought my son earth-side was a wild, beautiful ride.
I am a family chiropractor and have gotten the opportunity to work with many moms and babies. I’ve been to births, helping mamas and just being there for support. I’ve learned so much at each of them. I went into pregnancy feeling confident about how I would like to birth my baby and I trusted the process of it all. I trust the human body to work innately as it was designed to.
God made the perfect baby for me and for my body to birth.
However, sometimes how we hope or plan for things to go, especially with birth, isn’t always the outcome. Whether it’s a natural birth with or without the use of medications and/or drugs, a caesarian section, etc., etc., all that matters in the end is that mama and baby are healthy and happy!
I loved being pregnant and the process. I really enjoyed feeling him inside of me. The kicks, the hiccups, the little foot that always moved around on my right side and just having my little buddy inside of me. It’s amazing!
I feel very blessed and grateful that I got the beautiful birth I wanted. It was long and hard and fierce and powerful. I surely worked for it. Insert: I am woman hear me roar!
I look back and laugh to myself because of how much I tried to plan it out and prepare. Yes, it’s good to do those things to some degree, but I was quickly humbled by God’s plan. He needed me to let go. It was hard for me to lose control but once I silenced that little voice in my head and finally surrendered to the birthing process, that allowed Otto to come. My experience of birth taught me how strong I am and rebuilt me into the woman I need to be for this new title in my life as mommy. The greatest things in life are often the toughest to accomplish.
Otto is the greatest thing I’ve ever done.
Thank you for making me a mommy, my sweet baby boy.
I am thankful I had such an excellent birth team. Each of them played such a special role in my birth. My husband, Peter, was amazing and never left my side from start to finish. I felt so secure he lovingly supported me throughout our birth and did everything in his power to comfort me in all the ways I wanted and needed. My midwife, Margie, was fantastic. I knew I was always in great hands with her. She’s intuitive, caring and truly meets you where you are. Cheryl, my doula, was incredible and exactly the person my husband and I needed. She helped us through our birth so intentionally and read each moment beautifully to know exactly what was needed. Margie’s assistant midwife, Emily, and student midwife, Melissa, were wonderful additions to my birth team that I didn’t even know I would need. God truly orchestrated the best team for me.
Chiropractic was a huge part of my healthy pregnancy regime. Keeping your spine in proper alignment helps tremendously in having a more comfortable pregnancy and birth, along with encouraging baby to be and stay in optimal position for a smoother birth.
I got adjusted by Dr. Venn at Venn Chiropractic consistently and that helped me so very much. Being a chiropractor is obviously very physical, so it was wonderful to have him tune me up after the workday. Dr. Courtney Gowin & Dr. Courtney Kahla at Free to Be Chiropractic specialize in care for pregnant mamas and babies. They are both like a warm, nourishing hug! The round ligament and soft tissue work they provided along with their adjustments helped relieve any tension I had.
I took prenatal yoga with Mimi Mears on Monday nights and loved every second of the breathing and connecting with baby she coached us through. In addition to chiropractic care, I enjoyed taking yoga, going for long walks and doing other light exercise. I tried to eat very healthy most of the time until the chicken finger + fries and ice cream cravings got the best of me every now and again, drank a ton of water each day, supplemented with great quality vitamins, slept as much as I could any chance I got, did lots of positive affirmations and read a few wonderful books on pregnancy and birth.
We feel so blessed that God provided us so much love and support from our family and friends during our pregnancy and birth.
Thank you for taking the time to read our birth story!