One of my first friends as a freshman in college was a sweet supporter named Christi. Christi has such a gentle spirit, and she and her good friend Mandy took me, a seriously homesick and possibly depressed girl, under their wings when I really needed it that first semester. I will always appreciate them for that. In April, Christi gave birth to her first child, a beautiful little girl named Zella. She and her husband Bobby have been ecstatic over Zella's arrival, although they have experienced exhausting times as new parents, as Zella seems to have problems with gas and possible food intolerances. They have noticed some recent improvement though, and Christi has been taking Zella on walks in her k'tan wrap (bottommost pic below), which she thinks helps aid the passage of air for baby Zella. Christi was gracious enough to share her birth story on this blog. If you'd be so kind as to send warm thoughts and positive vibes her way, I know she would appreciate it. We are definitely talking about one tired mama. Following is the birth story of Zella Simone Tom, in the words of Christi.
Zella Simone Tom. 7 lbs, 11 ounces. 20 inches long. Labor started at 1:30AM, we arrived at the hospital at 5:30AM, and she was born at 6:37AM on April 16, 2014.
In terms of preparation, I did take prenatal yoga classes at The Yoga Room with Celeste McNeal
throughout my pregnancy. These classes were super helpful to learn how to relax
and breathe and stretch. Bobby and I also took natural childbirth classes through New Joy Birth with
Chris Maricle that were also super helpful. I want to give Chris a hug
because of how wonderful the breathing training was, especially when I
was trying not to push and then when I needed to push.
I went on walks once or twice a week, and I started swimming once a week the last month. I also read Natural Hospital Birth and Ina May's Guide to Natural Childbirth.
Our due date was April 19th, and Zella came three days early. I had serious Braxton-Hicks contractions three weeks before for 24 hours, and then regular
Braxton-Hicks off and on after that. This led me not to believe I was
really in labor when I was.
I woke up with contractions that were medium, and I felt like they could be gas
plus contractions. I sat on the toilet and passed gas and pooped a
little while reading articles online. Something about a Cuban refugee
baseball player smuggled to the U.S. I was going back and forth from
timing contractions and reading. They were around five to eight minutes
I tried to go back to bed, but the contractions were worse lying down. I went
downstairs and tried the couch and the other toilet. I ate three prunes.
The contractions got stronger and I started deep breathing during them.
I didn't think they were serious yet because they had only been going
on for an hour or two. I tried sitting on the exercise ball and hated
it. I leaned on the ball and that was okay.
Things began getting serious quickly. I came back upstairs and at 3:00AM
the contractions were four minutes apart and I had to do deep
breathing. I woke up Bobby and told him I was going to shower for the
heat and to see if they would go away or get better. I took a shower and
had three contractions in the ten minutes I took to shower. I didn't
even shampoo. I had to hold on to the wall during them. I went back and
breathed while leaning on the bed and put on clean underwear and
Bobby's pajamas (basketball shorts and a giant panda t-shirt). I knew it
was serious because I didn't want to put on my clothes because I didn't
have time and didn't want anything constricting me.
I told Bobby to shower and get ready. I called my mom and told her to
get ready, and I had a couple of contractions while I was on the phone with her. I had to pass the phone to Bobby when I had a contraction the
first time. The second time I just breathed, and my mom told me I was
doing good. I told her to call and leave a message with Grandma Murf to
pray. I called and left a message with our doctor. She called back and
wished us luck and said this sounded for real. She said another doctor
would be on call. In the meantime, Bobby packed the car with our suitcase, pillows, and baby car seat. I
was a bit frustrated that he asked me during a contraction if we needed a
car seat in the car. We left and I had two contractions on the walk to
the car. Bobby had started letting me squeeze his two fingers during
contractions. This would prove to be my worst car ride ever.
By this time sitting down was abhorrent and painful during a
contraction. The car ride was therefore very intimidating. I had three
contractions on the drive there. I had my eyes closed and squeezed
Bobby's hand and the door handle and breathed during contractions. I
felt shaky and cold. I prayed out loud that God would slow down my labor
so I wouldn't have another contraction in the car. Driving up and
around and around in the parking garage, I started feeling queasy and
made Bobby stop the car during the contraction. We were on the fourth
level. We made it to level six and left all our supplies in the car.
(They kept asking for our birth plan right after the baby was born and I
kept saying it was still in the car. :) God has a sense of humor and
didn't let me be a control freak.)
We walked through the lobby and down the breezeway, stopping three times for
contractions. I held on and leaned on Bobby. I felt the intense need to
push and started blowing small breaths to stop. During a contraction, I
told Bobby to not chew his gum. It was wiggling me and I just couldn't
Once we arrived at the hospital at 5:30AM, things were kind of blurry until her birth just over an hour later. I remember that the nurses walked me into a check-in area and
asked if I had to pee and gave me a cup. I had a contraction and
couldn't pee at all. And I missed having Bobby's hand to squeeze. The
nurse wanted me to get on the bed and I was fighting it. I kept standing
up and getting off because the contractions were so strong and I was
trying not to push. They put a monitor on and Zella's heart rate was
stressed during contractions. They asked silly questions that I'm pretty
sure I answered in all the pre-op check-in paperwork. I accidentally
told a nurse to "Shut up, please!" when she asked questions during a
Finally, they got me to stay on the bed for a minute and checked my cervix and
said I was complete. I felt vindicated and a bit scared. They asked if I
had wanted an epidural and I said no. They said good! They rushed to
get me a wheelchair and to a delivery room. They said my water hadn't
broken but was bulging. They said there was a doctor there but they were
paging my doctor, Dr. Dietz, to come because she was on call until 7:00AM.
I had a contraction as they wheeled me down the hall. I was really trying
not to push, but my water broke as we entered the room. Lots of nurses
were zooming around setting things up. A nurse decided to tell me it was
okay to push if I didn't mind the possibility of my doctor not making it. They took
the bed apart and let me put my feet on pegs. My mom arrived and stood
in the background, telling me I was doing great and breathing great. I
was relieved to stop fighting it but couldn't remember how to push
effectively. During one contraction, I told Bobby I really wanted to
And then Dietz arrived. She took control, grabbed my left leg and
ordered Bobby to take my other leg. She said it was time to push like I
was pooping but to relax my legs and spread them and to curl up my body
and put my chin to my chest. I pushed three times through a contraction.
Then tried to rest and breathe. Then pushed again, and the next push I
was serious and pushed into the pressure and pain. I felt stretching and
abdominal pain. Dietz said I was almost there and the baby was coming. I didn't believe
her but I pushed and felt my face go red and hot. She said she had a lot
of hair. My mom echoed, "She has hair!" I
didn't believe them either. Her head came out and her body slid right
out afterwards. They put her on my chest and started cleaning her. She
cried loudly. They waited a bit and then clamped the cord. Bobby cut it
and it squirted blood. I was afraid I'd feel more contractions to
deliver the placenta, but it came out without me realizing it.
Afterwards, Dietz sewed up a second-degree tear and a nurse cleaned me up with cold
water. I shivered and shook from adrenaline and endorphins. They gave me
a local anesthetic. They also asked if I wanted pain meds, and I didn't. I
just focused on Zella and the pain was manageable. I was still in shock
that she came out of me and that I was no longer pregnant.
My retrospective thoughts:
Dietz's coworker came by the next day and said she's never personally
seen someone come to the hospital complete--and she's never heard of a first
time mom doing it. Hearing this and thinking of the experience, I feel alternately thankful, humbled, and crazy proud. The scary part was wanting to push when I got to the hospital and knowing I couldn't yet. But I got to soon.
I opted for no epidural. The contractions weren't quite pain. They were more like medium menstrual
cramp pain in waves that were bad 30 to 40 seconds and then 'okay' pain the
last 60 seconds. However, I experienced a crazy pressure when I needed to push. There was also pain during
pushing, but pushing was pretty short and intense. It was like being on a
fast moving train and not being able to stop.
If I hadn't read and gone to classes and practiced breathing, I probably
would have fallen apart because it was overwhelming and would have been
scary if I hadn't known what to expect. Also, I had been praying for a
smooth, fast birth. Wish granted!
* If you're interested in reading other natural birth stories, you can read about my labor with Van in parts one and two, Mikah's birth with Adelaide, and Keri's birth with Callen, or you can click on the Birth Stories label on the left of the screen.