The birth story of our second child...

In 2005, we took The Bradley Method® classes to prepare for the birth of our first son
who was born July 30, 2005 at the Special Beginnings birth center in Maryland.  It was
a long birth – 44 hours total – but we had him on a birth stool vaginally and he was
healthy!  About 4 months postpartum, we got pregnant again with #2!  We planned
another Bradley birth at the same birth center!

For a week in mid-September 2006, we were teased with off and on painful contractions.  
There were so many times I thought "this is it" but it wasn't.  The contractions were regular
and painful but would eventually subside.  I knew to trust my body and wait for the baby to
come when he or she was ready to.  It was frustrating to be teased but I knew it was best to
be patient.  If real labor wasn't here yet, it meant the baby and my body especially my cervix
wasn't ready for real labor.

Friday, September 15th, I started having painful contractions again that morning.  They
stopped around noon only to come back again around 4PM.  I just continued doing normal
activities around my house and taking care of my 13 month old, Aidan.  The contractions
continued on through the evening and finally at 11:30PM the teasing was over!  The
contractions turned pretty serious and active labor had finally begun!!  I eventually moved to
my bed sitting up with my back propped by a wall of pillows able to talk to my husband,
Austin, who was getting everything together and checking off the items on our list of things
to-do and things to pack for the birth center.  I carried on as normal in between contractions
but had to breathe and concentrate during contractions.  They were about 7 minutes apart
and 60 seconds long and were getting really painful and intense at this point.

We had called our doula to come to the house to help us labor at home.  Before she could
arrive, however, I instinctively changed from my sitting position in bed to a hands and knees
position for a really intense contraction and my water broke at 1:30AM.  I got up and walked
to the bathroom and told my husband what had just happened.  Sure enough I looked down
and there was a clear fluid all over my PJs.  This was it!  It didn't take very long for the
contractions to intensify and get closer together.  I decided to take a quick shower while
Austin packed everything quickly into the car including our sleeping 13 month old!  Aidan was
awake now and watching Baby Einstein on the DVD in our minivan and perfectly content.  

Our doula, Tina, arrived when we were walking out of the door.  Everything was happening
really fast!  We previously permitted a newly certified doula, Jo Anne, to come with Tina to
shadow her and attend our birth since she had never seen a birth center birth experience
before.  They drove to my house together which turned out to be great because Jo Anne
drove Tina's car which allowed Tina to ride in the back of the minivan on the floor with me!

Austin had folded down the 3rd row into the floor so I had a huge space of pillows and
blankets in the back to support me while I continued laboring in the minivan for the near hour
long trip.  We left our house at 2:23AM and called the birth center on the way to let them
know we were coming!  As it turns out, Melissa, the same birthing midwife that caught Aidan
was on-call and had just finished a birth at the hospital.  Unlike our first drive to the birth
center when I was in labor with Aidan, Austin had gas in the minivan. The bumpy ride was
hard to deal with at times, but I was very focused on working with my contractions. I sat
propped by pillows in the same position as I was in, in the bed and Tina sat in front of me as
I breathed through each contraction concentrating and being focused.  Most of the time the
contractions were very close together and I felt like I had no break.  But there was one 10-
minute break where I actually fell asleep during the ride to the birth center!

Melissa met us at the birth center at 3:30AM.   I was so exhausted already.  When we
arrived, they helped me walk in and I sat up in the bed in the same position I had been
laboring in at home and in the minivan.  Melissa wanted me to scoot down though so she
could check my cervical progress.  This was my very first cervical exam this pregnancy since I
had declined the routine exams offered since 36 weeks (I didn't want to get discouraged or
excited over any amount of progress or lack thereof.)  She said I was 100% effaced and 5-6
centimeters dilated.  (In my head, I did some quick math and figured out if this labor was as
long as my labor was with Aidan, that I'd be in labor 9 more hours before the baby was
born.)  I mentally started to freak out!

This is when my "wimp stage" set in!  I started to have self-doubt that I could make it
through this pain and started to sincerely tell everyone on my birth team that I didn't know
how I'd make it through this again.  I was really fearful of another long, hard, painful labor
and most of all feared another back labor.  Everyone assured me that everything was fine
and they even thought this wouldn't be another back labor and my labor would go much
faster this time.  My midwife, doula and husband stuck to my birth plan and ignored my new
fears and kept on encouraging me and assisting me however they could.

I didn't stay in the bed too long because I was in such pain in that position.  Melissa
recommended moving me to the jacuzzi tub to labor in warm water instead.  After I moved
to the tub, either Tina or Austin sat beside the tub and held their hand behind my back for
pressure in the lower center of my back while I continued to apply pressure with my two
hands in the front on my belly during each contraction.  This counter-pressure helped me get
through these painful contractions.  I was pretty proud of myself for physically dealing with
each contraction better than I did the last time with Aidan.  This time I controlled my
screaming and there was hardly a moment I did that, I breathed very well and efficiently
through each contraction, I did my best to relax all of my muscles so that I wasn't fighting
my uterus and the work it needed to do.  Emotionally I was a self-doubting nightmare, in my
opinion, but physically I was performing like a champ!

It didn't seem like I was in the tub for very long before Melissa wanted to check my cervical
progress again.  Time was flying by because I was focusing intensely on one contraction at a
time.  It had been over two hours since I'd arrived at the birth center at that point.  She did
the exam in the water and said I was 9 centimeters dilated!  She just encouraged me to keep
up the hard work.  The contractions were very intense, very long lasting, overwhelming at
times and very close together.  It was still very painful but I didn't have the "back labor" I had
with Aidan, thank goodness!  The pain was mostly in the front and in transition I could feel
the pain in my back some too but it wasn't the horrible back labor!

At this point, my "pushing rock" had arrived!  My birthing nurse, Laurel, from Aidan's birth
showed up and she wasn't even the nurse on call.  It was about 5:30AM.  Melissa called her
to tell her I was in labor and she came in just for me!  I switched from sitting long ways in
the tub to sitting facing the side of the tub and using the side to put my feet on while Laurel
applied counter-pressure pushing my knees toward me.  I was instinctively pushing in the
peak of each contraction very soon after moving into that position.  The contractions were
pushing contractions now.  I wasn't even bearing down and my body was naturally pushing
the baby down with each contraction.

I only pushed in the water for 5 minutes when they noticed the baby wasn't responding well
to me pushing in that particular position, so they wanted me to try a different position
instead.  They wanted me to go to the bed and lie down on my left side but I couldn't walk!  I
felt the baby's head pressing so far down that I had no ability to even straighten my legs
out.  So, a group of them literally carried me to the bed with my legs apart.  I just did
whatever they told me to do and looked forward to pushing again!  

Once I got to the bed, I was on my hands and knees which was very comfortable to me so
they told me just to stay in that position instead of lying down on my side.  This worked
great!  
I began pushing as I'd learned to do holding my breath and pushing my breath down and
working with the pushing contraction to push my baby out!  I was able to concentrate so
well.  I loved minutes, I pushed the head out and then didn't realize I still needed to push to
get the body out.  I couldn't see my baby being born this time given my pushing position
unless I looked down through my legs.  So I asked if my baby was out, and Melissa said,
"no, you have to push your baby out", so I pushed through one more contraction with only
two big breaths and my baby's body slithered out!  

My baby was guided to the bed immediately right underneath me and I scooped my baby in
my arms and stared at...him!  It was another boy!!  Laurel put the oxygen over his face to
give him fresh air as he breathed in his first breaths.  His cord was still attached and his color
was still purple from the quick pushing adventure.  After he breathed in his first few breaths
and oxygen filled his lungs, he began to pink up in seconds!  
His skin was a plumpy pink color and he had chubby cheeks. He had long fingernails and
loved to wiggle around a lot. He could already lift his head far up into the air when we held
him on his tummy.

It was about 5 hours after he was born that I decided to take a shower and get dressed
and dress my little baby!  We all changed clothes into our "going home outfits" and we
packed up the minivan and took some pictures.
After 8 hours of uninterrupted early labor followed by 7 hours of active labor and 10
minutes  total length of labor was 15 hours, only 2 hours and 45 minutes of labor was at the
birth center.

I was the first to hold him in my arms and holding him skin to skin kept him warm so there
was no need for him to be separated from me and placed in a baby warmer.  We wrapped
heated blankets around him, too.
He was so beautiful and kept staring back at me.  Austin sat on the bed beside us getting
his first glance at his second born son.  We were so happy to meet him!!
After he came out, almost immediately, I had them wake Aidan and bring him in our birthing
room so he could meet his new little brother.  (Since it was so early in the morning he was
sleeping in his pack-n-play in the living area.)  Aidan was fascinated with his baby brother
and stared at him with smiles and curiosity.
We also banked his blood just as we did with Aidan.  It only took 16 minutes for the placenta
to be born.  During that time, I offered our baby boy the breast but he only wanted to stare
at Mommy and cry.

A little later, Melissa had me turn sideways in our full bed so she could do a cervical exam and
checked for tears.  She only saw one tear worth stitching.  It took 2 stitches.  The entire
with him.
I got up to walk to the bathroom to expel the remaining blood and clean up a bit.  Then, I
returned to my birthing bed holding my sweet newborn baby boy.  He began to successfully
breastfeed.  It was such a beautiful experience.  Afterwards, we called our families to share
the exciting news!

After a few hours of bonding and even a nap together with my baby in bed, Laurel did the
newborn assessment on him.  He weighed a whopping 8lbs even (3 lbs bigger than his
brother was) and measured 20 1/2 inches long with a 13 1/2 inch head circumference.  His
head came out perfectly round and didn't mold into the "cone head" that Aidan's did.  I
guess Aidan did a good job of paving the way for baby #2 and the pushing process was
much faster, as well!
After 14 hours of labor, and only 2 hours and 45 minutes at the birth center laboring before
he was born followed by 7 hours of rest, it was time to go home.  We stopped at Chic-fil-a
for some chicken sandwiches and a shake because Mommy was starving!  

We got home about 2:30PM or so and were so glad to be in our own home!  We settled in
quickly.  I nursed him one more time before Aidan and I took a much needed nap in our
family bed while Daddy and baby had some holding time downstairs (and Daddy got to
watch college football of course!).  

After our 2 hour nap, Austin called his parents to come over and watch our alma mater,
Clemson University, play Florida State and meet the newest addition to our family.  They
brought over an excellent dinner for us - ham, mac&cheese and beans!  And his mother
made some homemade cookies in the shapes of the letter "B" for boy and the color blue.  
Mmmmm!  They gave us a sweet card and a bouquet of flowers in this sweet baby boy
vase.  They gave Aidan a "I'm a Big Brother" balloon which he loves to play with!  We
watched Clemson beat Florida State!!  We took some more pictures and toasted our baby
boy's special day!  It was a great end to a wonderful birthday!
                John Paul Alexander
Due to all of the hard work and preparation for my labor and his birth paid off!  We had a
great birth team and were very comfortable in our birth environment first at home and then
at the birth center.  We were pleased to have another successful Bradley birth and to come
home with a healthy baby, healthy mother and are now a healthy family of four!
Trusting Our Bodies
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