by Cassandra McCoy MAT, LAT, ATC, RYT
I didn’t think I was going into labor that night. In fact, when my doula told me she was coming out to my house just to check in, I thought man I don’t want to waste her time! Boy, am I so glad she came out on that Tuesday night.
A tale of two births.
I can’t tell you about my daughter’s birth without mentioning how my first experience went with my 2 ¹/² year old. Without it, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
With my first birth, I was told my baby was going to die if I wasn’t induced. I was told he was underweight and not getting the nutrition that he needed. I was also told point blank by my OB/GYN (please ask me her name so I can tell you how much I do NOT recommend her), that she knew I wasn’t ready to have a baby but I needed to be there that night to induce. She made it sound like I wasn’t being a good mom if I didn’t, because apparently I didn’t want him here yet. So 40 hours after labor was induced, my son was born. 40 painful hours filled with a lot of anger and hatred on my part and 1 hour of pushing on my back scared and tired. At around 38 hours, I finally had to get an epidural because I was so exhausted from 3 days of no sleep and 38 hours of painful contractions.
They told me “baby is healthy, not underweight, so that’s all that matters”. But it wasn’t all that mattered to me. I was angry. I was defeated and powerless. I felt like my power had been taken from me and replaced with doubt, sadness and trauma. I was a professional who helped people like me, how did I let this happen?! I ended up with a grade two tear, several other tears in the surrounding tissues and two grade two prolapses, but baby was healthy right?! Who cares about the mom.
I experienced lots of symptoms for the next 1 and a half years trying to recover. I vowed to never have another cold because I was terrified of what could potentially happen or what injuries might occur when I did.
Then in 2020, we decided we wanted another one, if I could regain my health that had taken a bit of a turn. I was doubtful we would be successful, but sure enough, in May we found out the good news! Two days before I found out I was laid off.
Getting laid off is still the best thing (besides my kids, husband and education) that has ever happened to me but it threw a wrench in my plans for my birth experience.
The thought of having another hospital birth terrified me. I would get flashbacks to my first experience just being near a hospital. But losing your insurance can change things.
I wanted to go to a birth center, we have an amazing one in town with wonderful professionals. It ended up not working out, we just couldn’t. I was so sad, and at first, terrified because that meant one thing, a hospital birth, during COVID to make things even worse.
So I started to do research. What were my options and what factors could I control in this experience that was going to be far from what I had wanted.
With help from my amazing L&D nurse, I found a doctor who was very much against induction and intervention unless extremely necessary. I also found that this hospital was one of the only in the area allowing doulas. So check and check.
I met with the doctor, who was the closest I had found to my favorite OB/GYN who had moved, that I had met yet.
I asked him point blank questions and he answered them honestly. He didn’t tell me what I wanted to hear to just pacify me, unless he was straight forward with me anhis approach to birth and that was refreshing.
I called and booked a doula who also took pictures at birth. I knew my mother in law wasn’t going to be allowed in the room so I wanted to somehow capture the experience for her to see later. I met with my doula twice before the big day and texted with her quite a bit leading up to the big day as I tried to get our daughter to come into the world.
Our daughter is very headstrong already, so all the things I tried to do to get her to come just weren’t working out. I was progressing nicely, even hanging out at 80% effaced for 2 weeks but all the tricks were not working.
At 41 weeks, which was a Tuesday, my doctor did a sweep of my membranes. He was confident it would work this time (we tried at 40 weeks with no response).
I went home feeling the same and my dad come in that afternoon just to be around before the birth. I had made peace with the possibility of not experiencing spontaneous labor. So I was focused on taking in the final days enjoying my little family before we grew by one.
I was texting with my doula all day Tuesday after my OB/GYN swept my membranes. I experienced the same false contractions I had been feeling for the last few weeks, nothing more.
So when she told me that she wanted to head my way that evening I was skeptical. I didn’t want to waste her trip all the way out here. But she said she had a feeling and wanted to come hang out, fine by me!
She said she could come around 7pm.
Weirdly enough, around 6:55pm, I started having a different feeling contraction….still irregular but these were different.
Then when she got here, she applied some essential oils and I starting pumping then alternating with figure 8s on the exercise ball.
In under a half hour, I was having regular contractions a minute apart. That’s the moment I thought, “Oh lands! Somethings happening!” That’s 8pm.
I remember walking into the kitchen and seeing my doula making tea and thinking what in the world? She knew.
I don’t think I actually thought “I’m having a baby tonight” until 8:45pm. Contractions ramped up quickly and soon all I could manage was being on all fours. My loving doula told me to try going to my bed with the exercise ball and draping over it during contractions so I could rock. Boy did that ever help! Before long I had my music playing on my phone, eating a banana, rocking on the ball and starting to roar like a bear during contractions.
I was able to read and sing with my first born as we put him to bed for the last time as a family of 3.
My doula calmingly told my husband to start getting ready. Something I said a bit later too, almost thinking we might have waited too long.
I remember asking my doula “Am I a wimp, or did things just get really intense really quickly”
She was kind enough to tell me all signs pointed to me being in transition, so I felt a bit better and that things were moving along appropriately.
Being in transition during the 15 minute car ride to the hospital was an experience! I held onto the hand hold and lifted myself up with every pothole and contraction. My husband was over in the driver’s seat giddy with excitement. “This is awesome! I’m getting to drive my pregnant, laboring wife to the hospital!” To which I replied “I’m Glad I can make that happen for you now please drive!”.
To set the scene,
He almost missed the exit off the highway. I was yelling “TURN left here!” In the middle of a contraction. We laugh about it now.
At 10:11pm I texted my L&D nurse friend that I was on my way, 10:15pm, she told me that they were set up for me as we were pulling into the ER.
The receptionist didn’t realize I was in labor until about 5 minutes and 2 contractions of us just sitting there while she was getting stuff together. I had to request a wheelchair because by that time my whole body was shaking and contractions were very very intense. My amazing doula pushed me up the hallway and I just remember getting pretty dizzy, thankful for the wheelchair and not having to walk. 10:30pm
By the time they wheeled me into the room and checked my progress, I was fully effaced, 8cm dilated and baby was at zero station. 10:55pm.
With my doula’s and nurse’s help, I got changed, vitals taken, heplock in and positioned on my knees with my arms over the elevated back of the bed.
Contractions came almost two at a time, with one tampering off then ramping back up immediately. My husband had my right hands and my doula was on my left side. Suddenly, mid contraction I felt my water break! I remember telling him “So that’s what that feels and sounds like!” I literally felt the baby move down.
My doctor asked if I could flip to my back to protect my perineum. My doula knew I didn’t want to deliver on my back so she asked if we could stay here and see if I could relax and push effectively.
One contraction later, I felt my body push. Like I wasn’t actively pushing out when thinking about pushing, it just happened. I purposefully relaxed. I sent relaxation to my glutes and floor with every breath. 3 contractions later, baby was born. 11:10pm
Her cord was so short, the doctor had to hold her for a minute to let the placenta pulse out a bit. Then my husband was able to cut the cord and hand her to me. Trying to move from on my knees to sitting felt like the end of the hardest, most rewarding workout I’ve ever had! I can’t even begin to describe the joy, excitement and thankfulness I was feeling in that moment. Not that it was done, more that it had all happened. Already, I could feel my pain disappearing, my relief flooding in and my joy taking over.
My baby girl was here.
My golden hour was perfect. The pictures hold my gaze to this day as my pure joy was just too much to put into words. I felt relief that it was over when my oldest was born. With my second, it was joy and thankfulness that I had the chance to experience every moment.
My doctor told me everything looked great, a bit of heavy bleeding but no tearing. I repeat, NO TEARING. Slight nick but no tearing, stitches needed.
The tale of two births. In one, I learned about determination, manipulation and overcoming. In the other I learned to allow, feel empowered and renewed. Both were necessary in making me the mom I am today.
My advice to mamas going into their 1st or 2nd births plus advice for delivering during the age of COVID is coming soon in the next few weeks. I will link to the article here.
As Oklahoma’s only Certified and Licensed Athletic Trainer who is specialized in prenatal/postpartum care and rehab performance exercise, I focus on utilizing the best rehab exercise techniques and whole body science based methods to providing my patients with a comprehensive approach to transforming their health. Certified in numerous manual techniques such as Rocktape, Neurokentic therapy, IASTM and more, my goal is to help my patients recover and live pain free in the way that works best for their body. By utilizing yoga, barre, strength training, functional training and other rehab approaches, I am able to help my patients return to what they love.
I run a small business called Positively Balanced LLC and run a nonprofit branch called the Be HEaRd Women’s Health Platform. As an adjunct professor at Tulsa Community College, I teach Applied Anatomy and Kinesiology, Foundation of Health and other online courses.
.When not empowering women through my business or teaching, you can find me playing with my kids and husband outside, gardening, cooking, teaching yoga, and other movement classes!