birth story.

so i thought it was about time to post my birth story... it's just now become less of a traumatic memory and more of a sweet memory. before i write my own, real life version, i wanted to post the letter our doula wrote us with an hour by hour journal of the event. it was 48 hours of labor... the most intense thing i've ever experienced, but we made it through - and the Lord gave us the greatest gift we could ever ask for!

Dear Amos, 

This is your birth as seen through my eyes. I am your family's doula, Betsy Woods. My role was to be a physical and emotional support for your mom and dad during your birth.  I feel it is important to start from the beginning… not just the event of your birthing, but the beginning of the relationship that I share with your family. 

I heard from your mom and dad in the summer of 2010.  They were interested in childbirth classes and doula support for your birth.  I met with your mom and dad in early June, and talked with them about what kind of birthing experience they wished to have.  I felt an easy connection with your parents, and was excited about seeing them every week for 12 weeks to attend my Bradley classes. 

As my class started, I began to look forward to developing a relationship with your parents (and see your mom’s belly change and grow).  Every week they walked in the door with their pillows and blankets ready to practice their relaxation exercises. Your parents had a very easy-going nature.  Your mom always asked the best questions and was so eager to learn as much information about pregnancy and birth as she could, and your dad was very interested in the entire process, wholeheartedly embracing his role as a father and as your mother's "coach." 
As your arrival time neared, I met with your parents to go over specific comfort measures in labor as well as go over their birth plan.  We talked about options for laboring if you decided to arrive quickly, what we could use in the hospital, when they should call, etc.  I wish you could have seen your mom from the outside…she was beautiful, full of light and love…and she was really pregnant! When I left our final meeting, I could tell we all felt very ready to meet you!
The following are some "Birth Notes" I took before, during, and after your birth:

November 7th, 2010

5 pm: Mom started to feel some contractions.

8 pm: The contractions were manageable and 8 minutes apart.  Mom and Dad decided to try and rest to prepare for the birth ahead. 

November 8th, 2010

3 am: Mom was starting to feel a little more uncomfortable with her contractions, and they were coming at 4 minutes apart.

6 am: Mom’s water broke, and there was some slight meconium staining. 

7 am: Mom and Dad called me to let me know that things were starting to happen, and because of the meconium staining they were not comfortable staying at home any longer.  I packed my bags and got ready to meet them at the hospital.

8:15 am: Mom and Dad arrived at Kaiser Permanente and checked into Triage.

8:30 am: I met your mom and dad in Triage and saw that everyone was doing great.  Your mom was managing her contractions very well, breathing deep and closing her eyes with each one.  An exam had revealed that your mom was 3 centimeters dilated. 

9 am: We walked to your mom and dad’s room where we met their first nurse, Sandy.  She suggested an IV for your parents, which they agreed to, and had your mom rest on her side in the bed while she ran the line. 

9:37 am: The IV came out, and mom’s blood pressure checked in at normal levels, but the nurse still wanted mom to stay in bed until the labs came back at “normal.”  Your mom was a trooper and stayed in bed a little while longer while we waited.  Your dad took guesses on when we thought the baby would be born.  I knew better than to say a time, so I wrote my guess down: 12-1am the next morning.  Your dad guessed it would be 2pm and your mom guessed that it would be before midnight.  We all hoped we would meet you soon!

9:47 am: Your mom’s contractions were coming at 7 minutes apart, but were now shorter in length, at 40 seconds long.  We all just wanted to get your mom upright and moving again, to encourage stronger contractions! Especially since the midwife started to mention Pitocin…

10:22 am: Your mom was finally cleared to walk, and we left as soon as we could to walk laps around the labor and delivery unit.  Your dad did an awesome job, holding your mom during the contractions and walking hand in hand with her in-between. 

11:40 am: It was time to go back into the room to get a strip from the monitor on your heart rate.  Your mom was hooked up, and they served her lunch: green Jell-O, sorbet, and chicken broth-yum!

12:04 pm: You mom (and you) started to feel a little sleepy, so you both dozed in between contractions while she was hooked up on the monitor.

12:30 pm: Time to get moving again! This time it was the stairs we tried, to shift the pelvis around and give you some more room to make your way down.  So we started with the endless rounds of stairs (forward and each side), drink, bathroom, and slow dance with daddy.  Your mom persevered and was willing to do or try anything that would make the contractions more regular. 

1:30 pm: Time to go back to the room to get on the monitor! We got your mom a ball to sit on this time while she was being monitored. 

2:30 pm: Midwife came in with “the talk” (where are we going, what are we doing, how long are we willing to wait?) and I watched as your mom and dad used their consumerism and negotiated with her.  It was decided that we would wait one hour, and then assess what was happening with labor at that point.  So off we went to do whatever we could to help labor progress! We walked more stairs, drank more water, took more bathroom breaks, and snuck some bites of a sandwich your grandparents had brought your dad to help you’re your mom some more energy. 

3:10 pm: I urged your parents to get into the shower, partly because it would “buy more time” in terms of the midwife coming back and wanting to do something, but mostly because I knew it would help labor significantly if your mom was able to labor in a dark, safe, soothing environment with your dad.  So I turned on the shower, put some Christmas lights in the bathroom, and closed the door, allowing your parents to be alone, as physical touch and stimulation from the water also helps bring out the natural hormones to move labor along. 

3:30 pm: From the vocalization I heard outside the bathroom door, labor was moving along nicely.  Mom was vocalizing, dad was right there within arms reach providing her emotional and physical comfort, and her contractions were coming stronger, longer, and closer together.  Just by hearing her contractions, I could make these conclusions.  Your parents were working hard and doing fabulous. 

3:49 pm: Shift change, and we got our second nurse, Paula. Midwife Carol came in looking for your mom and wanting to give her Pitocin, but (surprise!) she was in the shower. 

4 pm: We couldn’t hold off any longer, and the midwife wanted your mom in the bed for an examination.  Your mom and dad did a wonderful job of discussing options with the midwife, and carefully evaluating any benefits, risks, and alternatives to the procedures she suggested (Pitocin).  At this point, mom’s contractions were 3-5 minutes apart and a minute long.  She was uncomfortable but coping well.  Your mom and dad refused the examination, and the midwife left the room.  At one point the nurse mentioned that your heart rate was “non-reactive,” but as soon as the midwife left, you got a perfect score on your 20-minute heart rate strip. 

4:30 pm: Mom was lying on her side in the bed, and having regular contractions.  They were starting to lessen in intensity slightly.  By looking at your mom’s contraction pattern, I started to think that you were an OP or OT baby. 

5:13 pm: Midwife Carol came in again, strongly suggesting a vaginal examination, which your mom and dad both refused.  I was impressed by the stance your parents took, and their requests for more information.  The midwife was angry that she didn’t get her way, however, and she unfortunately and unprofessionally stormed out of the room. 

5:30 pm: Mom’s blood pressure was high, and nurse mentioned that your mom had “pregnancy induced hypertension.” I suspected that this was not the case and that rather, your mother had high blood pressure due to what just happened with her midwife! Midwife Carol transferred your mom and dad’s care to the OB on-call. 

5:50 pm: We encouraged your mom to get back in the shower, since she had made the most progress there.  She was making some good contraction sounds, and sounding like things were progressing, as I assumed they would from the dark environment, loving company of your dad, and warm water.  Best of all, Dr. Perez (the OB), decided to leave your mom alone to labor for a while! Your dad snuck out for some dinner provided by your grandparents, and your mom continued to do an amazing job laboring in the shower. 

6:39 pm: Mom wanted to get out of the shower for a while and decided to get in bed, since the nurse had to take her temperature and blood pressure anyway.

7 pm: The OB came into the room to do a dilation check and found that your mom was 4 cm dilated, 90% effaced, and –2 station.  This was devastating news for everyone in the room, as surely something had to happen with all the work your mom was doing.  But I had a feeling that you were somewhat malpositioned and just needed a little more time to figure which way to turn.  The OB said that he wanted to see some change in progress (by numbers) in two hours, and they wanted to monitor your heart rate every 15 minutes. 

8 pm: Dinnertime! Your dad snuck your mom some bites of pizza (she wasn’t supposed to have anything to eat, per hospital policy, but she had been laboring hard and was hungry!) Your mom took turns lying on each side with one leg dangling over the bed.  Her contractions were intense and she was working hard, but your dad and I looked at each other, worried that they weren’t going to be frequent enough to produce the change in the amount of time the OB had given her.  Your dad took the opportunity to talk to your mom about Pitocin, which was a wise decision, knowing that the OB would probably suggest it next time he came in.  I was very struck by your dad and how he went over everything with your mom (benefits, risks, alternatives) before the doctor came into the room, so they had a “game plan” of sorts that they were comfortable with, rather than someone else calling the shots.  Even in labor, your parents were looking out for you and making the best possible choices they could in the moment with what was given to them. 

8:15 pm: The OB came in to do another dilation check, and, as we all feared, there was no change in the numbers.  He suggested Pitocin, as your dad had anticipated, but your parents were ready for this suggestion and had already decided together to go ahead with it. 

9:30 pm: Nurse Grace started the Pitocin on your mom, which was a very hard decision for your parents to make, but the one they knew was necessary due to the time constraints available at the hospital. 

11:07 pm: Your mom was sitting on the birth ball, lightly bouncing.  I warmed up a “rice sock,” a warm compress, to lay across her belly, which was comforting to her.  Her contractions were more intense, and still 3-5 minutes apart.  She was fearful of the strength of the induced contractions, but your dad was right there with her, reminding her to let go of her fears, and that he was going through it with her. 

November 9th, 2010

12:03 am: Your mom was overwhelmed by the intensity of her contractions, only made worse by the fact she was constricted to the bed because you were showing some decelerations in your heart rate, and the nurse wanted to have you on your side and with an oxygen mask.  Your dad and I continued to give her encouragement, using warm compresses on her belly, some lavender-scented oils, and our words.  Your dad took a very active role and held your mom, reminding her to take one contraction at a time, and telling her how strong and brave she was. 

1:40 am: Your mom got sick (which was a good sign for Ricky and I to see because it meant progress!) and was working extremely hard through her contractions.  She was using some low vocalization, which seemed to help her cope.

1:59 am: Midwife Mary came in to say “hello” and tell us that she was taking us back on, as the other Midwife had transferred your mom’s care to an OB unnecessarily.  Your parents were happy to have Mary there, and hear her encouragement.  Your mom tried a more upright position again, bouncing gently on the birth ball. 

2:44 am: Back in the bed again! Your heart rate kept reading decels, so the nurse asked your mom to lie on her side with oxygen in the bed again.  At this point, your mom was exhausted, frantic, stressed, and scared.  She started pleading with your dad to have an epidural, which was difficult to hear, not because he didn’t want your mom to have an epidural, but because he knew how disappointed your mom would be in herself after the birth.  Your dad mentioned this to your mom, and told her that he wanted her to do what she felt was necessary.  I asked your mom and dad if they wanted to pray about it and discuss it and I stepped out of the room, letting them know that I was still there to answer any questions or address any fears they had.  I knew that they would feel better about the decision if they felt that they had made it, and no one else. 

3 am: The anesthesiologist arrived to prep for the epidural.  Sophia, my backup doula, arrived at the hospital to take over for me for 5 hours.  (I had no childcare in that timeframe for my own two boys, and it also allowed me to take a quick two-hour nap)

4:20 am: A catheter was inserted, and your dad turned down the anesthesiologist’s offer to use adrenaline to bring back mom’s blood pressure after it dropped suddenly from the epidural. 

6:45 am: An internal exam revealed that your mom was 8 cm dilated, 80% effaced, and –1 station, progress finally!

8:30 am: I arrived back at Kaiser to find your mom resting comfortably on the bed on her side with some music playing.  You continued to have some decelerations, and the nurse wanted you to have an oxygen mask on during your contractions.  The nurses decided to turn down the Pitocin, to try to get some better reads on your heart rate. 

10 am: Another exam revealed that your mom was 9 cm dilated, 80% effaced, and now –2 station.  Your mother’s “slow” progress, backwards change in your station, and erratic contraction pattern now only confirmed my suspicions further that you were either OP (Occiput Posterior) or OT (Occiput Transverse).  We just had to figure out which way to turn your mommy so that you could figure out the best way to turn! Unfortunately, your mom was limited in her range of movement, but we did the best we could with what we had!

11:43 am: Your dad moved the back of the bed up, to get your mom as upright as possible, and contractions were coming every 2-3 minutes.  Even through the epidural, your mom was feeling some contractions and pressure. 

12:44 pm: Your mom needed to lie on her side again, due to high blood pressure.  Her contractions were still felt through the epidural, and your mom used breathing to cope through them. 

1 pm: Dr. Perez (the OB) did an internal exam and found that your mom’s dilation had progressed to a “lip” of cervix left.  He could feel your head and confirmed what we now all believed—you were Occiput Transverse.  So you just needed to figure out which way to turn and you would be on your way!

2:45 pm: Another exam—you had turned, but you chose to turn to Occiput Posterior rather than Anterior.  We all shook our heads at this “naughty” baby :o) Your mom was definitely feeling “pushy” at the peaks of her contractions now.

3:30 pm: Pushing time! Your mom tried various positions, both on her side and on her back with feet supported by the squat bar, holding onto a towel.  Your dad gave some great encouragement and a cold washcloth to your mom’s forehead.  Your mom did an awesome job pushing; she listened to her body’s cues and pushed instinctually. 

5:42 pm: You were born! Finally! It was a beautiful scene for everyone involved.  Your parents cried they were so happy to meet you.  After some quick checks, you were placed skin-to-skin, directly on your mom.  Your parents studied your every feature, and told everyone your name—Amos.  You tried your hand at breastfeeding and latched successfully and instinctually, which was just what I was praying for, after this long and hard labor!

Your parents spent a little time with you, and then asked your grandparents and Nina to come into the room to meet their precious boy.  Your dad’s family had been waiting a long time for you to come, sleeping in the hospital and praying for your safe arrival.  They loved you from the moment they knew about you, and were there for your parents right when they needed them.  It was a beautiful moment for me, seeing these parents of parents, with memories and hopes and dreams pouring out of their hearts as they laid eyes on you. 

I left you, your mom and dad, tucked away in their hospital room for some alone time, skin-to-skin time, nursing time, and sleeping time.  As I walked outside into the cool evening air, I couldn't help but think it was the perfect setting to have a baby and thought of the new family of three, cocooned inside in the warmth and love that only a child can bring. 
So while things did not go exactly the way your parents planned, this was how you were brought into the world, and I’m sure you have many more surprises in store for them!

If I had to take one observation or remark about your birth, I know that it would be about the enormous amount of love, devotion, and respect your parents have for each other.  Your dad was so “hands on” with your mom’s pregnancy and your birth. And your mother is SO strong and amazing.  She is determined, and courageous, and just about the kindest person I have ever met.  My small observations about your parents are just a small representation, of what kind of parents I know they will be. 

Your mom had a pretty tough labor, and when she became unsure, doubtful, frustrated, and scared, there was only one person who she turned to for comfort and support --your father.  I love seeing this, because even though mom is so overwhelmed by all the sensations she is feeling, she instinctually grabs his hand, calls out to him, or allows him to hold her up.  This love that brought you into this world, baby, is the same that got you out, and will continue to follow you through your path in life.  

Amos, I am inspired by your parents and the extent of where love can go.  Not only are they deeply in love with one another, now they have you.  Challenging, intense, tender, and exciting are words I would use to describe my experience of your birth.  I hope that when you read this you feel a bond with your parents that goes beyond the typical “mom and dad” label.  I hope you realize your innate relationship.  The three of you are teachers for others.  Sacrifice and change are inevitable, but your family is there.  Be open to the fact that they too are learning, growing, and are doing their best.  What a gift you have received having your parents to lead you through life.

With Love Always,
Betsy Woods


  1. I cried reading this. Such beautiful words she wrote about you all...

  2. What a great story to have! Our birth experiences seem very similar (although, you were in labor for much longer!!) Its so interesting how much the hospitals push for interventions...the beginning of my labor i also had a midwife who desperately wanted me on pitocin b/c my water broke before my contractions started and they gave my the "24 hour" timeline. but the 2nd midwife on duty was much more understanding of our birth plan. even though it did not turn out as you planned i'm glad you and lil Amos did so great!!!!

  3. michael and i just read this together. this was wonderful. we love you and ricky and amos!!!!

  4. so emotional reading this! wow! i loved how she described both of you and your love for one another. you are an inspiration Tiffany!

  5. Oh my gosh, Tiffany... so many thoughts and emotions reading this. First of all, THANK YOU FOR TAKING THE TIME TO SHARE THIS. We are full-blown into plans for the arrival of our little one, so I have been excited to read your sharing of Amos's grand arrival. This store is absolutely beautiful and momentous, courageous and patient [long-suffering]. I love the marriage, friendship and relationship that you and Ricky have - it is SO evident the strength and devotion that you have in each other thru this story. I love the account and support of your doula - how awesome is this! She was such a tool of the Holy Spirit to encourage you guys and fight for what you wanted. How incredible - I love that she used "tender" to describe this experience for her - I agree just from reading it.

    Blessings, BLESSINGS and thanks again for sharing.



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