Gaia’s Birth Story


I had spent all of Friday night experiencing uterine surges 10 minutes apart. I was so certain that our baby would be in our arms by Saturday. Alas, after laboring through the night. The tightening mostly stalled out the next morning despite seeing the first signs I was losing mucus plug. I spent the day up and about, eagerly awaiting a pattern to indicate that I was approaching active labor. I ate a lot! I was so hungry. I took a nap. I made dinner and got ready for another sleepless night.

Since, statistically, most births begin at night, I was expecting a repeat performance of Friday in hopes I would progress further. By midnight I had established a pattern of surges lasting around 1:30 at 7 minutes apart. They were becoming more intense and I began to experience a lot of discomfort in my lower back. The level of intensity actually really began to surprise me and I started to feel the first twinges of what I would classify as pain.

Despite in mounting intensity, the surges remained 7 minutes apart. I knew that was still pretty far apart, so I felt kind of embarrassed when I called into Jorvi hospital around 1:30am to ask the opinion of the midwife who answered. She informed me that it would be better to stay home given what I had told her but, as a third-time birther, she ultimately left the decision up to me. I also inquired about how full the ward was and she told me that if I wasn’t coming within the hour, then I would need to call back to confirm that they could receive me. The ward was almost full.

I began to feel worried and somewhat defeated. I didn’t expect to feel pain, at least not so early on. I wondered if I was doing something wrong even after all those months and trying to reprogram my thoughts about birth. Could it be that it hadn’t actually worked after all? But it made so much sense! Why couldn’t I cope? I wanted to get into the hospital and see if using the gas and air would help me relax enough to proceed naturally and get my thoughts back on track. It was the only relief method that I could accept as being in line with my plan about how I wanted the experience to go.

I also felt worried at the prospect of waiting at home since it might have meant that they would redirect me to another hospital in Helsinki. I wasn’t familiar with those places and the idea of a longer car trip also made me scared. It was with some disappointment and flailing confidence that we called our neighbor to come over and sleep on the couch to help with the boys in the morning. I called Jorvi to confirm I could still come in and I got the green light. It was around 3am.

The trip to Jorvi is only around 15 minutes from our house and, at 7 minutes apart, I was able to time things so I only had one surge during our ride. I felt relieved to be on my way in at long last but also pretty nervous about what I would discover when I arrived. What if I was only a mere centimeter dilated? What if they sent me home? I had this very confident list of wishes tucked inside my maternity card. I felt silly about handing them in. Deep down, part of me was already doubting myself enough that I felt embarrassed to confidently walk in and say that this baby was coming into the world peacefully and calmly… naturally.

I handed over my maternity card and birth wishes and waited for a midwife to call me in. Once in the examination room I mentioned that I was interested in using the gas and air. I was told I could go straight to a birthing room to be monitored there (would have gas and air immediately then) or I could wait there and use the gas and air after the monitoring. I chose to wait. I was informed that I was 3 centimeters dilated. I was elated! I had never gone into the ward with so much progress before. 3 centimeters was fine with me, though I was still having a hard time relaxing enough through surges. The midwife left the room.

A surge or two later someone else came in. Her name was Johanna. She was a game changer. Going into Jorvi, I felt disappointed in myself for not waiting longer at home. Coming out of Jorvi, I was so incredibly happy that I went in when I did! Johanna was there and her shift was ending at 8am. What if I had waited?! She informed me that her other clients had been assigned to other midwives so that she could take my case. After the receptionist read my wishes, she knew that Johanna and I were a perfect match because Johanna is passionate about everything I was hoping for. She had a lot of experience with water births, natural births, Hypnobirthing, etc. My wishes to keep the placenta or ‘breathe my baby down’ weren’t strange and unheard of to her. Delaying the clamping and cutting of the cord wasn’t exception for her, rather routine.

Her presence gave me confidence. Her encouragement gave me the assurance I had lost somewhere in the previous couple of hours to begin imagining I could do this again. The next couple of surges came and went and they didn’t overwhelm me. She checked the cervix again and I was nearly 5cm dilated! I was so unbelievably happy I was making serious progress and so quickly too! My surges were still 7 minutes apart though. She gave me a sweep to get things moving along. It worked. Very well. Within the next 5 minutes I went from 7 minutes to about 3 minutes apart and with intensity that was taking my breath away. It was around 4am. She went to fill up the tub.

30 minutes later I was in the warm water on my side with a soft mattress under my head for comfort. She predicted that at the pace I was going that I would reach 10cm at around 6am. I found that humming pretty loudly through surges helped me to get through them. My lower back was aching pretty badly and I struggled to relax. I think I cried a bit. It wasn’t quiet and it wasn’t exactly peaceful. I was clearly laboring but I was in the water, holding my husband’s hand, and under the guidance of a midwife who understood what I was trying to accomplish. She often told me about how well I was doing and how quickly things were moving along. Tuomas spoke to me softly and kept me hydrated with my water bottle. I didn’t touch the gas and air and I was past the point of even being able to request an epidural. Besides, Johanna confidently ensured me that I didn’t need one. I had a calm resting period and began to feel the need to bear down at around 6:15am. Johanna examined me to confirm that I had reached 10cm.

At this point I was definitely experiencing discomfort. I was beginning to tire and struggle. We changed positions a couple of times to get things moving along. I asked her to help guide me in anyway she could. The amniotic sack was still in tact at this point. I progressed a little and was able to feel the amniotic sack myself before it finally broke.

Johanna determined that the baby was actually facing forward rather than toward my back. Birthing in the water was not going to get this baby out. The positioning was wrong. Johanna’s shift would be ending soon but she was staying on with me to the end. She called in the next midwife on duty and had her get the birthing stool ready beside the tub. I got out and Tuomas supported me from behind. After another one or two surges I could feel the baby’s head and birth it. Once the head was out then Johanna was able to turn the body around as I birthed the rest. A girl! I had birthed a baby girl! I could hardly believe it! Gaia Serafina was born at 7:42am on Sunday morning. My very own sweet baby girl, the answer to one of my deepest wishes.

Johanna handed her to me where I held her for a couple of minutes and she received the vitamin K shot. Then they helped me up and we walked together to an adjacent birthing room where I could lay down with Gaia while I birthed the placenta. It came quickly and easily without the aid of a pitocin shot. Then we clamped the cord and daddy cut it since it had been a long while and it wasn’t pulsating anymore. I had the placenta wrapped up and Tuomas took it out to our car to put in the cooler. Once he returned we all had breakfast together, even Gaia who latched onto the breast perfectly and nursed like a pro! I had a shower while Tuomas weighed and gave Gaia her first bath.

Once the paperwork was done Johanna and I said goodbye. I tried with failing words to express how grateful I was for her confidence and help. I don’t know how it would have turned out otherwise. My previous experiences left a deep mark and having someone there to keep my eyes on the prize as I used everything I had practiced was just what I needed to accomplish it. I suppose in hindsight I should have considered a doula more seriously. She told me that it’s clients like me that make her job worth while. Then she left. I tucked Gaia into my shirt a short while later and we were wheeled up to the newborn ward. We had a short 2-day stay in the hospital and got to go home Tuesday afternoon as a family of 5!

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