Luke | Nashville Birth Photographer
I got the call to meet Brittany and Scott around 5pm at Vanderbilt Medical Center. Though baby Luke's birth may not have gone as originally planned, the Vanderbilt staff was wonderful and Brittany delivered Luke naturally just as she'd hoped. She was incredibly strong and exclaimed between pushes, "I've got a whole new respect for mothers!"
Read Brittany and Scott's story below.
From Brittany: I should start by saying, I was ‘planning’ a home water birth. When 41 weeks rolled around, we headed into an ultrasound appointment to get a biophysical profile test and check on baby. The test was unfavorable with a score of 4 out of 8 points (I had to score perfectly in order to stay pregnant). At this point, everything changed very quickly. My midwife called and told us the news that we would be heading to the hospital to be induced. I was an emotional wreck. Aside from wanting a beautiful, natural birth, I also feared interventions and the hospital’s high rate of c-sections.
We decided to go to Vanderbilt because I remembered they offered nitric oxide (laughing gas) and I thought this would be a good alternative in helping me manage contractions from an induction. Checking in, I was still a wreck. Lots of tears. It was really hard to come to grips with the new plan. We were admitted around 2pm, and they checked me and found I was dilated to a 3, which was great news! The staff gave me the option between two drugs to start induction - Pitocin and Cytotec. After a long grapple with this decision, I chose Pitosin and they started the drip around 6pm. About this time, the staff changed and so did my attitude. Being hooked up to all the monitors and IVs and cord tangles, was really tough to overcome mentally. I felt “sick”.
At 7pm, I got my lucky break when they assigned me a great nurse by the name of Alexandra. She was young, very nice and friendly and I felt very supported. I didn’t pick up on anxiety from her and I liked her being in the room. I also met my doctor who would deliver our baby and he seemed very experienced. I decided I could not go through this process scared and weak and needed to accept the new plan and have a good time. My husband, Scott, has a gift of getting me out of a bad mood with laughter. I think he made my water break when he told me (and the whole room) that he was sorry for getting me “knocked up”! We started laughing and telling stories about how we met, our wedding, and our Honeymoon adventures in the remote parts of Maui.
The best part was Scott’s support. He really helped me relax, focus and calm down. Ina May Gaskin was right when she advised couples to kiss during labor to help the woman progress! He was truly the best “doula” I could have asked for. It was cool to see how when he massaged my feet through contractions, the baby’s heart rate would become more stable. He basically was a massage therapists for about 8 hours straight!
We all settled in not knowing how long this would take. Alexandra, my nurse, allowed me to do some things that I know made a huge difference in my progress. I asked for a birthing ball, she gave it. I asked to get out of bed and stand and rock, she allowed it. My midwife gave me the idea to use the bathroom door and a sheet to hang with. After that exercise, I felt a strong urge to get in bed on all fours. This was around midnight. Contractions took all my focus all the time. I rocked back and forth on all fours ‘mooing’ like a cow for what felt like forever. At this point, the fears came bleeding out. I needed my midwife and my husband to remind me I could do this. I ordered the Nitrix oxide, stat. I remember asking them both ‘if I could do this?’ and then saying ‘I can do this’ all in one sentence over and over again. I asked my midwife how women got through this, knowing she had seen so many others before me give birth naturally plenty of times. This whole phase seemed never-ending. I remember feeling like I was out of it, losing my mind, and how was everyone else was so calm in the room.
Time seemed to stand still at this point and I had to lay down. Exhausted. I felt a huge urge to push, but it was a little too soon. Breathing through these contractions needing to push but being told not too, was one of the hardest parts. The sensation to bare down was overwhelming! The doctor came in and checked me and the whole room swirled around - stirrups out, lights on, I flipped over. I kept trying to use the Nitrix Oxide mask but I couldn’t tell it was helping. They told me to keep it on for the oxygen supply (I hyperventilated a little). I just couldn’t get ahead of my breathing. I remember everyone in the room was breathing with me to help. I even looked over at Kailee and she was doing the breathing with me, too! I had heard that many women preferred the pushing stage to contractions. I remember thinking, “this part is not at all what I thought it would be like.” Hard is an understatement for what I felt. Completely laborous and scary. They told me to hold my legs and push at the count of 10. I couldn’t get the strength to do all of that, so Bobbie, my midwife, held one leg, Alexandra, our nurse held the other, with Scott hold me and helping me push forward.
I remember thinking how close I was but it didn’t seem to make much progress with each push. I felt like my eyes were going to burst with each pushing session. Finally the doctor told me to reach down and feel the baby’s head crowning and that was just the motivation I needed to keep going. The baby’s head was out soon after and then one push and the body followed. I heard a cry. Thanked God. Then the staff said was, “What is it, Dad?”. Scott opened up the leg and I heard, “it’s a boy!” followed by his sweet tears of joy. It was the most beautiful moment. I felt very present, but still in awe/shock of what just happened.
Holding him (we had not settled on a boy’s name yet) was so surreal. This perfect little person in my arms that was a mysterious mixture of both Scott and I. It was the best moment to meet him finally and know he was healthy. The adrenaline rush afterwards was pretty intense. I had to refrain myself from calling everyone I knew at 5 am to announce his birth!
I now have a newfound respect for how God made a woman’s body to create life.
All in all, I prayed for a healthy, safe baby and I desired to have a beautiful, empowering delivery for myself. Surprisingly, I got both and I know God designed it the way I needed it to be. I now have a greater respect for the hospital birthing system, and know I can feel supported there just as well. I’m so grateful for the strength and calmness of everyone in the room who contributed to such a beautiful experience. Luke was born at 3:34 am!