The Birth Story of Rory Emerson Stein

I am so excited to finally blog our birth story!  It was such an amazing experience, and part of the reason I wanted to blog it is so I would always remember even the smallest of details.  Before I tell the story, I should identify the key players and some background information.

Lauren Slak, CPM – Lauren was the first midwife we met with and I fell in love with her immediately.  Her calm, positive demeanor, and her approach to pregnancy, health and wellness was exactly what we were looking for.  It was almost hard to believe that we found someone who was so aligned with our beliefs.  Lauren does home births, and after touring South Coast Midwifery, there was a tiny little part of my intuition that told me to have the baby at the birth center rather than at home.  So I emailed Lauren and asked if there was any way possible we could still work with her.  She created a package for us and said there was something called a monitrice.  Essentially, I got to see her for pre-natal visits on the same schedule as a standard midwife/OBGYN, but she didn’t manage any of my labs or medical portion.  She was my sounding board for anything and everything.  I went in depth with her about my fears, nutrition, and every little questions I had.  Then on the day of the birth, she would serve as our doula and do fetal monitoring at home until we left to the birth center, and then provide several post partum home visits just as she does with her regular clients.  Having her on our team was HUGE.

Rachael Herrera, CNM – Rachael was our midwife at South Coast Midwifery.  She delivered Rory and was SO awesome.  She is seriously so cool and fun to be around…yet she also has a very calm disposition.

On the day of the birth it was Eric, Lauren, Rachael, a nurse, and an assistant and they all dedicated their energy and focus to me 100% of the time.

So now, before we get to the birth, we have to go back a few weeks.  At 38 weeks I had my first cervical exam and I was 2 centimeters dilated and 80% effaced. (Dilation is how open your cervix is and 10 cm is considered complete.  Effaced is how thinned out your cervix is and it needs to get to 100%).  I knew it was very common for first time moms to deliver 7-10 days past their due date, but this made me feel like I would most certainly be on or before my due date.  At 39 weeks I was 3 centimeters and still 80% effaced.  I was now “SURE” that I would not go past my due date…LOL. 

Then, at 40 weeks, on my due date I was 4 cm and 90% effaced.  Well the “due date” came and went.  We went out to dinner that night (it was a Friday), I built a new coffee table on Saturday, and we went to watch football with friends on Sunday.  I knew how common it is to go past the due date and Eric and I really maximized our last moments together before coming parents.  As each day passed I thought for sure it would be the next day. 

At that point I was trying everything.  I had been walking and doing prenatal yoga my entire pregnancy and didn't miss a day of either of those two things starting at week 36.  Over the next week or so I had ramped up my efforts… chiropractor (which I did frequently throughout pregnancy), acupuncture, herbal remedies, etc.  All of the induction techniques I used were things that would help the baby come if he was ready, but wouldn’t force the baby to come if he wasn’t…and apparently he just wasn’t ready.


At my 41 week appointment, Rachel said I could do a membrane sweep, and that would most likely send me into labor since I was already 4 cm and 90% effaced.  Since the baby was doing well, I opted to not intervene quite yet.  I really didn’t want to force him come out before he was ready.  I felt great and Rory was doing great, so it seemed like waiting was the best decision for us. 

However, we were against a clock.  By law, at 42 weeks, midwives must transfer care over to an OB/GYN.  Our ideal plan was to have the baby at the birth center with our midwife.  At our 41 week appointment (a Friday), we decided to do the membrane sweep on Monday if he hadn’t been born yet, since the following Friday marked 42 weeks.  I honestly thought there was no way I would make it to Monday.  Monday came, and I was still pregnant, so there we were sweeping the membranes.  I hated to intervene, but we starting to fight the 42 week clock.  Whether that membrane sweep caused our birthing time to begin, we'll never know, but things certainly picked up that night!  After my appointment we went to lunch, and then went for a 2 mile walk.  That night we ate dinner and I went to bed thinking that it probably wouldn't happen because I wasn't feeling any different.

Then at midnight I woke up to the feeling of a little leak.  I got out of bed and my water burst all over the floor.  Ok, so this it!  I was immediately flooded with anxiety because I knew labor was imminent.  I had done so much physical and mental preparation, but was it enough??  We immediately called Rachael and she told us to try to relax and go back to sleep because I would need the rest. (Maternal exhaustion is the biggest reason that women transfer from a birth center or home birth to the hospital for an epidural).  She also said that contractions may start, or it may be a while, but the most important thing was to rest, and to call her when we were on our way to the birth center.  We were instructed to head to the center when the contractions were 3 minutes apart, lasting 1 minute each and had been that way an hour, commonly referred to as 3-1-1.  After we hung up with Rachael, we called Lauren.  Lauren also said the same go back to sleep (or at least close my eyes if I couldn’t sleep), and call her when things picked up and we wanted her to come over.

Well, things got started immediately.  I started having contraction after contraction.  Eric started timing them on the app he had downloaded and he thought he was doing it incorrectly because they were so close together so soon.  We had heard SO many times that labor for first time moms is pretty long.  Our doula lived 45 minutes from us so we called her to head over around 3am because we didn't know how fast things would escalate.  Eric packed the car and got us ready to go at which point we had reached 3-1-1 and then past it!  Contractions were now less than 3 minutes apart and we decided we should go.  He called Lauren and told her that we weren't going to wait for her and we would meet her at the birth center.  Luckily she had just parked at our house.  She came inside and listened to the baby and everything sounded good and she said it was indeed time to go.  As I was walking to the door I had my first contraction with a downward thrust.  I said to Lauren and Eric, "I don't think I'm going to make it to the birth center."  Lauren said she would check my cervix.  She said very calmly, "I think we can make it, but we have to go now, and I am going to ride in the car with you guys."  The initial plan was for her to follow us in her car, but she grabbed her midwife bag and got in the front seat.  I was in the back seat on my hands and knees and poor Eric was safely speeding down the freeway at 4am.  I barely remember the drive at all.  Lauren was applying counter pressure to my lower back which really helped.

When we got the birth center just before 4:30a I jumped straight into the tub.  The hot water felt SO good.  After laboring a bit in the water Rachael had me sit on the toilet with a squatty potty and do a few contractions there. Then they had me get back in the tub.  Then they had me go the bed and lay on my side.  Rachel was SO awesome at compartmentalizing the process by keeping me moving and having me do just a few more contractions in each location.  She also instructed me where to move my leg and how to position myself to bring about the most progress.  Laying on the bed on my left side was apparently going great because I was there for a little bit.  Then she had me roll over on to my right side, and then back on to my left side.  I was deep in concentration and felt like everyone around was so far away.  I could hear them, but I felt like I was in my own world.  It was just Eric, Rachel, Lauren, and two of Rachel's assistants.  It was quiet and peaceful.  There were candles lit and a fake fireplace going.  They brought me cool wash cloths and fanned me when needed and let me direct the whole process.  As each contraction came on I would let them know it was coming, push 3-4 times and then tell them it was gone.  I felt totally in control, and that really helped me feel empowered.  At 6:59a (after a short 7 hours of labor), our son, Rory Emerson Stein was born!  It was such a crazy feeling to feel him wiggle himself out after his head came out. 

It also turned out that he was posterior, aka sunny side up!!  It was a shock to all of us because he was anterior (face down, the way he is supposed to be) at our appointment the day before!  They think that when my water broke he may have flipped around.  Even still, babies generally rotate themselves to be face down before actually being born.  We were SO fortunate for so many reasons.  Often times posterior babies end up being a c-sectioned because they get stuck since the largest part of the head is coming out first rather than the smallest.  The pushing stage of a posterior baby is on average 4 hours because it is harder to get them out and mine was probably 1-1.5 hours.  We were SO fortunate to have had such a fast labor and that we didn't have to transport to the hospital because of him being posterior.  Everything turned out exactly how I had visualized over the previous nine months.

After he was born they all left the room and let us bond with the baby for a while before coming back to weigh him, measure him, etc.  Then at about 10:15a, just about 3 hours after he was born we headed home and were back in our bed by 11am.

I laugh looking back because in my bag for the birth center I had packed sage to clear the energy in the room, and I had birthing affirmations I was going to put up, we packed a camera, and I had a cute bikini top to wear in the tub....and we had no time for any of those things!  It turns out I was just about 10 cm at my house before we left to the birth center, and had he not been sunny side up, he probably would have been born in the car!  Everything turned out exactly the way it was supposed to and exactly how we wanted it to. 

I really feel that we earned that amazing experience by all of the research we had done in selecting our team, and all of the hard work we put in to physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually preparing for the birthing time.  I am so grateful to have had the experience we wanted that further taught me that truly, all I need is within me.