Ember's "Fiery" Birth Story

This birth story was contributed by Ashley McCullough, a BPY teacher, about the birth of her second child, Ember Rees McCullough.

Ember Rees McCullough’s “Fiery” Birth Story


I had tried almost every “natural” form of induction that I had heard. I was starting to think I was stuck pregnant. My original due date was November 4th. After having an early ultrasound, my due date was pushed back to November 28th. But I felt sure I’d have this baby before then. On November 8th, I started having signs and feelings that she was coming soon. Thanksgiving came and went; my due date came and went and at 41 weeks I really started to get nervous, I really didn’t want to be induced.

Finally, at one week and two days past my due date, I had my membranes swept. The plan would be to come back the next day (Thursday) for another sweep and again on Friday. Then, if still pregnant, they would do a “midwife induction” on Saturday and, lastly, a hospital induction on Sunday.

Thursday. I went in to get my membranes swept again and also was told that baby was not in the best position. The midwife, Mariah, suggested to bind my belly to help the little one get in a better position, which could possibly bring on labor contractions and get this party started! In all reality, I didn’t feel any different, though. No further signs of labor occurred. Still the same old feelings I’ve been having since November 8… a whole month.

Friday, December 9, 2016 at roughly 2am I woke up to go to the bathroom. As I struggled to get back in bed and get comfortable I could tell something was different. A couple minutes later I realized I was having contractions. Real contractions. Not just the Braxton Hicks I’d been having for the past month. I tried to go back to sleep, but that wasn’t happening. I was too anxious, too excited, too curious, too everything. Though, at the same time, I couldn’t believe it. I seriously thought this day would never come! It was around 3am when my husband adjusted in bed and I turned to him and asked if he was awake. He mumbled a yes and I explained to him what was happening, but told him to go back to sleep.

About 30-45 minutes later I couldn’t lay there anymore. So, I got up and went to the kitchen. I grabbed some crackers and chugged some Suki’s Blend (an herbal induction blend the midwives at the birth center suggested). I then bounced on my exercise ball as I snacked on crackers and hummed to myself and baby. Just after 4am I went back to bed and Jeremy asked how it was going. I told him it’s definitely moving along and we began to discuss whether or not we should call the birth center. Jeremy started timing the contractions. They were short, but close together. A little while later, we decided to call. At this point it was 5am. The midwife, Belinda, said that since my last labor was pretty fast, this one is expected to go quicker so we agreed to meet at 6am.

While Jeremy showered, I woke my mom and told her we were leaving for the birth center (finally!). I was still pretty calm at this point and trying not to get too excited, telling myself that it could still be a while. The car ride was rough, though. Luckily it was December and was able to belt out “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” with Michael Bublé and other carols during each contraction!

We arrived at the birth center just after 6am. We quickly got settled into the same room my older daughter, Jewel, was born in almost exactly two years prior (December 28, 2014). The midwife, Belinda, checked me and I was already 7 cm dilated. She told me her shift ended at 8am and Emily would take over from there. I got a little excited because Emily was the midwife at my older daughters' birth. I didn’t expect to have this baby in the next hour and a half so I figured Emily would be the midwife for this birth, too! How fun!

A little while later I was able to get in the tub and Belinda left us to ourselves. Most contractions I would lean forward onto my hands and knees and rock while Jeremy would rub my back a little. After about 10 or so minutes in the tub I started to get the feeling to push. I tried to convince myself that I wasn't really feeling that urge because I couldn't have progressed that much so quickly. After a few more contractions with the urge to push I told Jeremy about what I was feeling. He voiced my same thoughts, so I carried on. But after a few more contractions I couldn't take it any longer... I turned to Jeremy again and said, "No. I really have the urge to push. Go get the midwife.

I was half expecting Belinda to come in, check me, and then try to convince me that I wasn't quite ready to push and should hold off a bit longer. But to my relief, she did not! She came in and said, "Let's have this baby!" My relief relaxed me and my excitement grew as she got everything ready. She didn't even check me. She completely trusted what I was feeling and honored my body's desire to push; it was great! She asked Jeremy if he still wanted to help catch the baby and when he said sure she asked him to get ready.

After a couple of pushes or so I remember feeling this weird bubbly feeling and noticing some different movement in the water then right away Belinda said, “Water just broke.” I continued to push as Belinda started to get Jeremy’s hands in position as baby began to crown. Belinda mentioned that little baby girl had her hand on her head. I let out a chuckle during the next short break and mentioned that Jewel was born with her hand on her head, too! A couple more pushes and she was out! Jeremy helped bring sweet baby Ember out of the water and up into my arms and Belinda turned to the nurse and asked for the time, 7:12am, and exclaimed that I only endured six minutes of pushing! 

Ember Rees McCullough. (Rees means “fiery warrior”). 8 lbs, 19 inches. 11 days late, but a 5-hour labor!

I held my little baby girl in my arms and listened to the beautiful sound of her strong lungs crying. A little while later the umbilical cord stopped pulsating and Belinda got the cord ready for Jeremy to cut. Then Jeremy took Ember for a bit while I delivered the placenta. I then got up and made my way to the bed where I could more easily be checked for tearing. Both Belinda and the nurse were impressed with how well I was moving, getting out of the tub, scooting onto the bed, etc. Must be the Yoga! 

Belinda was surprised that I had a little tear but it was an easy stitch up. I was able to do skin-to-skin and breastfeed Ember while Belinda took care of the tear. Ember was a natural breast-feeder and latched on right away!

When Emily came in, she exclaimed, “I thought I was going to get to catch this baby!” Even though she wasn’t the midwife there for the actual birth, she was the one there for the after care. 

I was bleeding more than they liked and Emily gave me the choice to either have someone come in and aggressively push on my uterus every 5-10 minutes (which they had been doing and it was not fun) or they could give me some Pitocin to help my uterus contract. I chose the Pitocin and, apparently, it helped. I was able to go home around 1:30p, just six hours after Ember’s arrival.

This birth experience still seems so perfectly unreal. I could not have asked for a better birth story!

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