We had our 4th baby!
For those of you who are wondering if I am officially 11 months pregnant, I’m here to tell you that I’m not – I had the baby. And I’ve been terrible about telling you about it! So today I want to share the birth story of our fourth child.
It’s always pretty vulnerable and a little overwhelming to share a birth story. To me, it’s so personal. It is so private, so special and sacred. But at the same time, I love hearing from other moms their experiences, because I feel like that’s what I attribute to my own growth and just understanding of what birth can be. Each time I have a baby, I feel so inspired by the process and I feel like I’m kind of born anew with this new baby. I also feel like we’ve learned so much over the years and the difference between what it was like when I had our firstborn, Jack, to this most recent birth has been like night and day. Both Michael and I have grown so much, we’ve learned so much about birth and the experience, we felt more empowered and more confident in making decisions that are right for us and our family and our children.
I have been asked a lot of questions like:
What was the birth experience like? Why did you choose a birth center? Tell us about the baby. What’s the name? What’s the gender?
So, I am going to share a BIG time behind the scenes of a birth that I have never experienced before!
Choosing a Birth Center Instead of a Hospital
A while back, we decided that we were going to have this fourth birth (assuming that everything was healthy and good) in a birth center. I’ve had three child births in hospitals and with each one I got a little more confident in myself, my husband got a little more confident, and we started to understand what we wanted and what we didn’t want. We started to get a little bit more empowered to make the decisions that were right for us. So, we were very confident that this time I wanted to give birth at a birth center.
We found a team that we adored. If you are in Wisconsin and you are able to get to the Alba Birth Center, do it because we fell in love with the birth team and the whole premise behind it. And while it is two hours away from our house, it was worth it. Our births in the hospital felt very medical, meaning the doctors and their team were experts who were coming in to save me from this medical situation that’s happening and they need to intervene. Now, with each birth in the hospital, I was able to articulate better to the team that I was working with what I want and what I don’t want but oftentimes, you feel kind of powerless when you’re in a hospital because they just have a system. They have a process that they walk you through. But at the birth center, it was so wonderful to be working with a team that basically put the reins in our hands as they should be. We want their guidance. We respect their expertise, but I know more about my body. I know more about the experience I want to have and I don’t need to be saved unless I need to be saved. God forbid if something happened, thank you for medical interventions. I’m so grateful for what we have access to in the Western world and in modern civilization, but birth is something that has been going on for quite some time and it is a wonderful, miraculous experience (even though it can be really, really painful) and choosing the right team that honors how you view that experience and birth is really important.
And even though this was *spoiler alert* my longest, most painful and most challenging labor that I have yet experienced, I’m able to look back on it with such joy and gratitude versus the frantic feeling that I had in the hospital each time and how I had to fight for the control that I deserved to have.
The Natural Birth Labor Story
So, let’s start with the labor story. We were at my in-laws for the entire week, leading up to when I went into labor. We went up for Christmas, and came back to our house on December 30th. My due date was January 9th and I wanted to be in my home and settled when going into labor. On New Year’s Eve, we were hanging out with the kids, having game night and I started to feel touchy. Like anytime the kids would make a loud sound or drop something and I just felt my nervous system was on hyperdrive. So, I could tell something was brewing. We went to bed and at 12:30 my water broke.
I laid in bed debating on whether or not I should wake Michael up. I just felt this intuition tell me “Nope, stay in bed and rest. You’ll know if you need to wake him up.” So I laid in bed and ultimately, I drifted back off to sleep because my contractions started but then they really started to fade out. I had a good peaceful sleep until about 5am. Then I decided to wake Michael up and despite this being his 4th rodeo, he still responded (nearly out of a dead sleep) with an excited (and quite hysterical) “Stop ittttt! No wayyyy! Stop ittttt!” ???? Gets him every time, I guess!
So, with both of us awake, we called his mom to come stay with the kids and I got up and started my day. Although my water had broken, my contractions were really not kicking into high gear. We let my midwife, Katie, know what was going on and she assured us that there is no need to rush. My mother-in-law got to the house and we just spent the day pretty normally. We spent the morning with the kids, did some meal prepping and then I kind of retreated back to the bedroom. After talking to my midwife, I told her, you know, things aren’t really progressing, I can tell something’s different this time, because when my water broke with my third, almost immediately, I felt pressure. This is one of many reasons I am glad that we chose a birth center. In my past experiences, when my water broke and my contractions didn’t start, they would always tell me to go straight to the hospital and that they had to induce me immediately. And with my first I did that, because I didn’t know any better. With my second, I advocated for myself and my doctor agreed to give me 8 to 10 hours at home, but then I had to come in.
This time, when I called my midwife, she gave me all of these different strategies to try to get the baby moving down into the right position. Things including really strong red raspberry leaf tea and something called the mile circuit, where you follow these different positions that you get into to try and get the baby to drop down into the position that it needs to be in to deliver. After trying these different strategies and none of them working enough, we felt like it was time to go to the birth center.
The Benefits of a Birth Center
The birth center was so cozy. I was stepping into this really quiet space with essential oils and my playlist going in the background and just such an enjoyable setting. It felt much more like an Airbnb than a medical facility, even though it had all the equipment needed if, God forbid, something went wrong with the baby or me. And there are so many other positives to being in a birth center.
At this point, if you’re in a hospital setting, you are not allowed to eat (in case of a C-section) but my midwife kept encouraging me to eat because I was literally running a marathon, I needed sustenance. She even told us to bring a really hearty, warm, homey meal so we prepared this huge organic shepherd’s pie that I thoroughly enjoyed around 9 pm between my contractions. It was such a brilliant idea and definitely not something I would hear in a hospital setting. After the hearty meal, I slept. I had nothing left in the tank and sleeping was such a gift.
I awoke around 11 pm and I felt like my body was starting to do more. But I still didn’t feel that pressure and I was really getting frustrated. I tried to stand as much as possible, moving my legs in ways that were opening my pelvis and making space for the baby. And at this point, I’m exhausted. I’m in agony. I really focused on relaxing and breathing and talking to my baby. I would talk to my baby through these contractions in my mind “We’re in this together, you’re moving down, I’m getting closer to you.”
Throughout this whole thing, I had not had any cervical checks because I didn’t want them. At this point, my midwife checks on me and sees that even though my water had broken the night before, the baby had kind of plugged the rest so when she checked me, it released the remaining bag of waters. From that point on, all bets were off. For the next four wonderful hours, I was in the most high intensity labor I’ve ever experienced.
What I found was that every time I went to the bathroom and sat on the toilet, that’s where I had the most productive contraction, meaning I could literally feel the baby dropping and my midwife kept encouraging me to do just that. So, I’m sitting on the toilet and she says “Okay, you’re ready”. And it’s amazing how the body is so innate. I start to push and I can feel the baby coming. She asks me to stand up but I can’t so Michael scoops me up, kind of under my arms behind my back and for the first time out of four kids, I deliver the baby standing up. Immediately she puts the baby on my chest and I’m holding it for several minutes, just in awe of everything that had just happened and then Michael finally says “Well, what is it?” And I’m like “Well, I don’t know, I haven’t looked” and I turn the baby towards him so he could see, and he says “It’s a girl!”
Naming Our Baby
Now, we come to the story of her name. Michael and I have very different naming philosophies. I grew up in a big, extended Italian and Arabic family and we just name after people in our family, that’s just what you do. And he comes from a more American culture of what names do we like or what are some strong names that we know, etc. We don’t even bother talking about names, until the baby’s born. So when she was born, I just felt God placed it so strongly on my heart that we were going to name this baby after my mom – Nadema. My mom was named after her grandmother who was from Syria. And thank God I’ve married such a wonderful man who is so open and knows how much tradition and heritage and family mean to me. So Michael obliged and we named her Nadema Bell, because Michael’s mom’s maiden name is Bell.
One of my favorite parts of this birth experience was the fact that within two hours of Nadema being born the rest of our children were there with us. And it was just such a blessing and a gift, and it has been such a joy thinking back on that experience, which is wild because I can’t tell you enough how challenging that was. But at the same rate, it was good. It was filled with so much goodness. And it was so empowering because the ball was in our court for every decision.
What I loved about talking when working with Alba is that they tell you everything. They list you all the reasons why you might consider something or why you likely don’t need it so that you can make an informed decision. This is so important because there are a lot of things in birth, and in hospitals, that are done and blanketed across everybody, because it’s easier and because it covers all the bases. But that doesn’t make sense for every person, for every healthy birth. So it was really nice to have the knowledge and that empowered, informed consent.
I am so excited to share this birth story with you because it’s been such a blessing and our sweet little girl has become the apple of our children’s eye. We are all doing well. We’re just living the beauty and chaos of having four little kids, homeschooling, running two significant businesses and just being in the thick of it and really loving it. It’s so different this time – I’m not as stressed, I have a little bit of wisdom coming into this and I know that everything is fleeting, everything is temporary. “This too shall pass” for the hard part and “this too shall pass” for the good stuff. So, enjoy it while you have it and soak it up.
- Alba Birth Center
- Episode 159: Meet My Mom: Mogul on Servant Leadership, Business Wisdom, + Raising Crazy ‘Ol Me
- Nadema Bell’s Birth Story
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