This birth story is near and dear to my heart because I had the pleasure of attending it. It had many highs and lows, but I walked away from it with renewed hope in the medical system and their ability to facilitate a mother and baby centered birth. Sarasota Memorial Hospital Labor and Delivery nurses stood alongside us, supporting and allowing this beautiful birth to unfold. Enjoy!
Andrew’s Birth Story
by Sarah Beechy
During pregnancy with our firstborn I had so many ideas of what I wanted labor to be like. I had a plan in my head, but it wasn’t at all what happened. I was absolutely devastated when I was told I needed to have a C-section. I don’t think it’s wrong to have a cesarean, I just wanted more than anything to experience a natural birth. So when we got pregnant with Andrew, I had my mind and heart set on natural birth, and I was one determined mama!
Tuesday, April 15th, I awoke at 1 am to a hard contraction. It was the middle of the night, so I just went back to sleep, but it was not long before another one hit. I got out of bed, as it hurt more to lie down, and went and sat in my glider. I had been having prodromal labor for about 2 weeks, so contractions like this were very normal to me. After about an hour they got harder and closer together, about 5 minutes apart, but I wasn’t convinced yet. I asked my hubby (James) to make me some tea and I tried to relax as much as possible. Around 2:30 a.m. I couldn’t find a comfortable position through the contractions, and standing on my own was not happening. We decided it was time to call our friends to come take care of our firstborn, Isaiah, and head to the hospital hopefully to have a baby.
When we arrived in triage at Sarasota Memorial Hospital, the nurse took me right to a room, as she saw the pain I was in. James went and got us checked in, while the nurse took me back to get “checked.” Sadly, I was only 3 cm. I told the nurse I felt like a wuss at 3 cm. How could I be in this much pain, with such a small dilation?! She was kind and said; “Every labor is different for every woman.” They monitored me for about 30 minutes, and then moved us up to labor and delivery!! I can’t tell you how excited I was to be admitted. We were about to have our baby!!!
When we got to our room, another nurse took over and had us sign papers and answer questions between contractions. I honestly just wanted her to leave so I could breathe, move, and focus with my husband on the task at hand. About an hour later she was finished and we were able to labor in peace. Lol.
The next hours are honestly a blur. I stood and swayed. James held me up when a contraction would come. I sat on the birthing ball when I could. I tried lying down. I think I would have tried handstands if I had the muscles.
As the time passed there was a shift change, and we received a new nurse. This woman was an angel!!! Her name was Noe, and she was super pumped about our desire to have an “all-natural birth.” She was giddy and her face glowed as she tried to help us find different positions. She didn’t mind us doing whatever we wanted, with the exception of eating, as I was a VBAC patient, and they wanted to be extra cautious.
9:30 a.m. came, and my dear friend Whitney arrived to help coach me through. At this point I was 4 cm, and progressing very slowly. James was very tired, so Whitney took over for a bit so he could rest and eat. I rocked on my ball and held onto her tightly when a contraction came. By this time I had found my “labor noise,” and had no trouble using it. When I seemed weak she reminded me how amazing it was going to be to meet my baby, and that God had given me the strength to do this. When the contractions were too hard to “hum” through, she would tell me “You never have to have that contraction again. That one is over.” She kept me motivated!
Hours passed by; we tried more positions. Eventually they had me lay down again because I kept falling asleep in between my contractions. I hated lying down, but I knew I needed to rest. While sleeping I would dream I was having contractions, and then wake up to them. Seriously a nightmare!!! I wasn’t upset though. I kept my focus on the PRIZE!
4 p.m. came, and I asked for the epidural for the third time. Only this time I yelled for it through a contraction. James and Whitney both said my face changed, and they knew I had reached my limit! They made absolutely sure that I knew what I was doing during the next break, and then asked the nurse to call for it. Our nurse, being the gem that she is, got us to the front of the line, and the anesthesiologist was there within 20 minutes. I’d love to tell you about the hoot that this guy was, but that’s another story in itself. All that really mattered was he had the good stuff! In no time I was pain-free and resting peacefully. There weren’t any regrets about my decision. I knew I was out of energy and my body was to overwhelmed to breath through anything more.
After receiving the epidural my labor slowed a bit, and around 7 p.m. we decided to have my water broken to try to get things moving again. It worked! By this time I had made it to 6 cm, and we were finally over halfway there. We had another shift change, and received our night nurse, Kristin, who was another Godsend. She was on board with our plan and helped as much as possible. The doctor and her were very hopeful that baby Andrew would make his grand entrance in the next couple of hours!
Well, the next couple of hours came and went. My body was doing everything it needed according to the monitors. Andrew was responding wonderfully, but things were moving like pond water. The doctor came in a couple of times to check on me, and then finally decided to go take a nap. We had made it very clear that as long as baby and I were responding well, we would like to wait it out. The doctor and nurses were so wonderful, and patient. They honored our request without any hesitation.
Around 10 p.m. Kristin started putting me in different positions in the bed to help keep things moving. She checked me every couple of hours and kept a close eye on baby through the external monitor. Around 5:30 a.m. Doctor Cohen, who was on the night shift came in to check me one last time before his shift ended. 9½ cm. I was so close. He decided to see if he could push my cervix out of the way to get me to 10. He did it!!! I was officially 10 cm!
After getting me there, Dr. Cohen and now nurse Noe told me they wanted me to wait to push baby until I “labored down” a bit. Basically he was at the zero position in my birth canal, and they wanted my body to move him down to a plus three before I pushed. They said my pelvis was very small, and they weren’t sure if he could fit through. I obviously didn’t like hearing this, but I was willing to wait a little while longer.
A couple hours later the epidural started wearing off. I began to moan and breath through the contractions, all while being stuck in bed. Another nightmare! Noe asked me to hold off as long as I could before getting a “top off” from the anesthesiologist, as each injection slowed my contractions. After about 4 hours of this we decided to redo the epidural, and started me on Pitocin to help keep my contractions steady. We weren’t too excited about the Pitocin, but Noe and Dr. Sullivan assured us that if baby wasn’t responding well to it we could slow it down or stop it altogether.
After receiving the second epidural, and realizing that I had been in labor for about 32 hours, my mind grew shaky. Questions started flooding my mind, and I could feel fear setting in. My focus had been on Jesus the entire time, so my questions went straight to Him. God, do you want me to have a C-Section? Why aren’t you doing anything? Why is this taking so long? He responded very quickly and clearly. Sarah, this is for my glory! When I heard this I asked Whitney to write a couple of phrases on the marker board. Statements the Lord had given me during my pregnancy, that now made so much sense. “Leave your ‘what ifs’ at the door”, and “The Lord has given you this.” I also was reminded of my labor verse, “The Lord will fight for you; you need only be still.” Exodus 14:14. After writing this, I asked her to turn on the song that was chosen to help me through labor, Oceans by Hillsong. Then she sat in bed with me and we began to cry, pray, and worship. Talk about a holy moment. Nurse Noe even joined in for a second. It was amazing how the Holy Spirit moved in my heart. I felt my confidence return! He had given me this, and I would be pushing my baby out!
James had gone for a walk, and when he returned Whitney let him know that she had contacted a midwife friend asking for safe positions to put me to help move baby down. We talked to Noe about the position, and I could see on her face that she wasn’t fond of the idea. Honestly, it scared me too, as I didn’t have any feeling in my legs, and it involved me sitting on the edge of the bed, while James and Whitney held me up, but I was willing to try anything to get Andrew to come down. It was noon at this point, so I told Noe I’d like to give it till 2, have her check me, and if things hadn’t changed I’d like to try the position, and then start to push. She said she’d talk with Dr. Sullivan, but it was fine with her.
Noe returned about an hour later, and said she’d like to check me, and then wanted me to start pushing. Apparently she had talked to the doctor, or come up with a game plan by herself to avoid “the position.” Either way, I didn’t care. I was ecstatic!!! Whitney had gone to get coffee, so we called her and told her to hurry back. She was elated and got there ASAP. Andrew hadn’t moved, so we just went for it. I remember, at some point, Whitney asking me if I felt like I had the strength to do it, and like fire shut up in my bones I responded with, “You watch me push this baby out!!” Lol. I was ready!!!
Commence pushing!!! Noe had me push in different positions. First, on my back, then on my right side, left side, and we tried hands and knees, but I couldn’t hold my legs up. As I pushed through each contraction, James and Whitney held my legs and counted to ten. Noe kept me motivated and watched to see if baby was moving down. After I found the right muscles to push with, he started moving. Talk about motivation! Noe had another nurse come in to work with me. Moe was her name, and she was an awesome cheerleader. She got things really moving. Then came Nurse Anne. This woman wins pushing motivator of the year! She helped me push harder than I thought I could, and with each push they could see Andrew’s head more and more! Near the end things got really exciting. I’m not sure how many nurses were in the room, but it felt like the super bowl had come to the hospital. Everyone was cheering and excited. “Just keep going.” “You’ve got this!” “He’s moving down!” “Look, James, you can see his head!” Comments were flying from everyone.
Around 3:30 p.m. they told Dr. Sullivan to come quickly, and told me to stop pushing as hard, because I had to wait for the doctor to deliver my baby. Are you kidding me??? I need to push and push hard. My body did not want to stop pushing. I could feel everything, and everything said to PUSH! It only took ten minutes for him to get there and get set up, but it felt a lot longer than that. Now in position, Dr Sullivan said, “Alright, Sarah, on this next contraction I want you to give it all you’ve got.” Nurse Anne was right in my ear, “Here we go… Take a deep breath, and PUSH!!!!” She counted to 10. “Let it out, and again, and one more time, Sarah! Alright, now breath.” It took three contractions, and his head was out. One more, and his body was out!!!!
HE’S HERE! HE’S HERE! WE DID IT! HE’S HERE! I remember I just kept repeating this, as I cried tears of joy! They suctioned out his mouth and nose, let James cut the umbilical cord, and put him on my chest. James and Whitney were right there with me, as we looked at our little warrior, Andrew Benaiah Beechy! Born at 3:44 p.m. on April 16th. He was 8lbs 15oz and 21 inches long. Altogether we labored for 38 hrs and 45 minutes.
I don’t think there are words to describe the feelings I had after accomplishing the vaginal birth I had been fighting to achieve, especially after such a long labor. The entire process was amazing. Through it all I felt so empowered and even now I feel so connected to the people who were there with me.
If you are hoping for a VBAC, have a birth plan and make sure your doctor is completely on board with it. Sullivan and Cohen are wonderful, but there are many doctors out there who are pro-VBAC.
Make sure you have a strong team. There were definitely weak moments on my part, and my team kept me strong. I knew I could trust James and Whitney when I had to make a hard decision. We never made a decision quickly, and we always talked it through.
As a believer, I sought the Lord for direction throughout my entire pregnancy, and I believe with all my heart that He was right there taking care of the details. My faith kept me strong when things didn’t seem to be going in the right direction.