Hunter's Birth Story

Day 1 - A few hours after birth
"37 weeks," I answered.

"Any day now," replied my yoga instructor.

She had always asked the room of pregnant mamas the same question at the beginning of each class, but this time her reply made me think she was crazy.

She doesn't know what she's talking about. Surely I have another couple of weeks, I thought, but I should have known.

The next day, a co-worker asked me if I had noticed any signs that labor was approaching. I replied a simple no, but mostly I thought, what am I supposed to be noticing? An inkling? A maternal feeling? I should have known.

Saturday was like any other day, only that evening I had suggested that we go to our favorite pizzeria knowing that it might be the last time we go there "just the two of us." Dinner was fabulous, the pannacotta incredible, and we topped off the night with a trip to the bookstore to pick out a couple of Spanish language books for our baby. I should have known.

I should have known that my life was about to change forever.

Sunday morning Isaiah was preparing us a pancake breakfast when I hollered to him from the bathroom. I had just lost my mucus plug.

A call to the midwife set my mind at ease, "Oh, don't worry. Some women stay pregnant for a month after they lose their mucus plug."

Nevertheless, Isaiah and I decided to do some last minute prepping and shopping, you know, just in case. Our focus for the day was a Styrofoam cooler and food and anything else we wanted in our hospital bag (which we should have had packed and ready since week 32, according to The Bump). Isaiah also worked on some renovation projects around the house. I did some laundry. We put clean sheets on our bed and dozed off around 9:30 pm. At around 10:45 pm, my water broke, but since we had been told in her birth class to labor at home as long as possible, Isaiah put a towel down on my side of the bed and encouraged me to go back to sleep. We were exhausted, so I lay back down. I wasn't lying there longer than a minute when I felt another gush of water. This is really happening, I thought, and contractions began.

Another call to the midwife revealed a positive GBS test and orders to come to Labor and Deliver Triage ASAP to get started on penicillin. There went our plans to labor at home as much as possible. There went my plans to make a Swiss noodle casserole to eat our first night back from the hospital. Instead, Isaiah began to pack up the car and take the car seat out of its box (!) as I sat down to have a bowl of soup.

We arrived at the hospital sometime after midnight, and my mother and sister joined us soon after. Our hope was to deliver in the Birthing Center, located within the hospital but separate from regular labor and delivery, without the use of pain medication, to go as natural as possible. After administering the penicillin, and before transferring me to the Birthing Center, the midwife informed me that I would have 12 hours to show significant progress or the staff would have to induce labor and I would no longer be eligible to birth in the Birthing Center. Talk about stressing a mama out! Sure enough, my early labor was stalled. After about 10 hours of early labor contractions ranging from 3 minutes to 6 minutes apart, the labor nurse asked if I would like to take castor oil to help labor come on stronger, and I agreed. At the 12th hour, the castor oil kicked in and I was 5 cm dilated -- I received permission to stay in the Birthing Center!

At this point I had labored on my side, on the birthing ball, on the birthing stool, in the rocking chair, hanging on Isaiah's or my sister's neck, and leaning against the wall while walking the halls. I started to descend into the valley of doubt, declaring, "There has to be another way!" I must have also said things like, I can't do this. This hurts. And so on, but my team was there to encourage me to continue my hard work. (I also had a wonderful volunteer doula named Samantha helping me.)

One "pain relief" option I was dying to try was the tub, which I had hoped would be one of the "there has to be another way" options. During the few hours of what I figure was active labor, I kept asking for some relief. "When can I go in the tub?" But the midwife and nurse feared I was not far enough along yet for the tub -- I needed to be 7 cm dilated -- and going in too soon might make my labor regress. Nearly 15 hours after early labor began, I finally received the OK to go in the tub. (No one examined me to see if I was 7 cm. Apparently when the nurse noticed that the only laboring position I could tolerate was sitting on the toilet, she figured I was pretty far along.) We then moved to a larger birthing room equipped with a tub and I ripped off my nightgown and jumped right in. Isaiah rolled up his pants and hopped in too, until I demanded, "Get your shorts on!"

The first contraction in the tub felt manageable, and so I relaxed a little bit hoping subsequent surges would feel the same. Unfortunately, the next few contractions felt excruciating, and Isaiah had been in the tub with me no more than 10 minutes when I declared, "I need to push this baby out now!" So, I climbed out of the tub and began pushing on the bed in child's pose. More pushing while squatting, more pushing while standing, and finally pushing on the bed on all fours. Forty minutes of pushing and out came our miracle, Hunter James Freerksen.

When the midwife caught our baby and set him between my legs, I looked down and the first thing I said was, "How were you inside me?!" (My belly was pretty small, so I wasn't sure how he had fit in there!) And then I said, "It's a boy!" I lay down on the bed and Isaiah put Hunter on my chest. We waited until the cord stopped pulsating, and then Isaiah cut it. The rest is kind of a blur, but the three of us cuddled for a while and it was the sweetest feeling.

Days later, I watched the video my mom took of the birth. It's amazing to be able to relive those miraculous moments. On the recording, you can hear my sister sobbing, "Mandy you're doing such a great job!" and when his head came out, there were lots of "Oh my god" exclamations. Finally, after I announced the baby's gender, I could hear my mom giggling, "I knew it was a boy!" Debriefing with my mom and sister after the birth, they both commented on how calm and in-control I seemed during labor and especially when it came time to push -- made me feel pretty good about all that hard work!

Hunter is 2 weeks old today, and Christmas Eve was his due date. This Christmas we certainly received the best gift of all! We are so very happy with the medical care we received and are thankful to the staff that helped bring our little treasure into this world. I also feel very blessed to have had such a wonderful birth partner, my husband, Isaiah. He was my rock throughout the entire experience, seeing me through each surge, holding my hands, kissing me softly and whispering encouraging words in my ears. I also thank my sister who was there to hold me up when Isaiah needed a catnap or bathroom break and my mom who brought Isaiah clothes and meals and provided another set of warm arms to hold the baby during our hospital stay. Hunter's birthday was indeed a beautiful day for our family!

Day 2 -- Waking up in our big birthing room
I'm here!
Day 4 -- Going home!


  1. I am soooooooo happy for you!!!!!!!!! This story made me cry, every birth story is so beautiful in it's own way! I love you guy's and can't wait to me Hunter! he is so handsome.

    1. the above comment is from Jenna Kayser, Hug's and Kisses!

    2. Thanks for your message, Jenna! xoxo

  2. Hey Amanda,
    Congrats to you on the birth of your beautiful baby boy! Well done on coming through what sounds like a long birth. By the way I "didn't know" the birth of my first child was imminent and went to the cinema hours before my waters broke. In fact, we think that laughing out loud at "Meet the Parents" make have had something to do with those waters breaking...
    Take care and look after yourself too

    1. Thanks, Vicky! I had read that laughter helps labor along!!

  3. How wonderful! Congrats!!! He's beautiful :)

  4. Congratulations to you!!!! He is so precious! Can't wait to see more pictures :) As for Wesley sleeping all night - idk what I did but it is amazing! I didn't use any books or anything but i did a few things that I like to think contributed - like when I fed him at night I kept the lights off, only changed him if it was bad, i didn't talk to him while I handled him (so he wouldn't think night time was a time to hang out)...and I was pretty strict on those things! I didn't do cluster or dream feeding ever, so I don't know - he can't keep his eyes open 7-7:30 now so we just try to feed him his last bottle around 6:30 or 7. That's about all I can think of! Also - I totally institute the pause for sure! this helps during naps, sometimes he will cry out but is not really done sleeping. My biggest piece of advice is just to be a relaxed mom - like we had marks fam stay with us for a couple weeks and besides the night time rules they could do whatever they wanted with him, feed him however, etc - I think it leads to a flexible and relaxed baby!

  5. Congratulations! I like the picture of him 'holding' the announcement card. So you didn't get an epidural?

    Welcome to Motherhood!


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