We first learned we were pregnant with our second baby, on December 31, 2010 after I had been feeling nauseous during a car ride while visiting my husbands family in Chicago, IL. We were so excited to have a second baby close in age to our daughter, Lola! My husband, Perry, went to the drugstore that afternoon to purchase a pregnancy test, and we shared the exciting news with his family right then and there!
We cannot deny that in all the excitement, it was still hard to push away the scary memories of Lolaʼs labor! After a tough, 40+ hour posterior presentation, hospital birth, with one medical intervention leading to another - we knew right away that in order to achieve the natural birth we dreamed of, we needed to bring this child into the world at All About Babies Birth Center in Argyle, TX! Without hesitation, we called on midwife, Christy Martin, who acted as our doula during Lolaʼs birth. While Lolaʼs labor had been traumatic, Christy was such a positive force and definitely the angel at our side.
Throughout this pregnancy, Christy and her student assistant, Kelli Bankes, gave me a platform to talk through my fears while neither encouraging them nor putting them down. They had open ears and allowed me to do the venting I needed to do. I read books like “Childbirth without Fear” and “Supernatural Childbirth,” and did my best to confront the reality of the past birth, and how that could possibly relate to this birth. I came to a few realizations that brought me to a peaceful place: 1) It is neither likely nor unlikely that this baby will also be posterior, so I should be open-minded and research how to handle it in a natural way, should I experience that again (in other words... be prepared!); 2) The last birth was such a challenge, this one couldnʼt possibly be worse - so I already know I can make it through; 3) When I allowed fear to take over during labor, my body automatically tensed up, making labor pain seem more intense and therefore harder then it needed to be - my body was not able to progress efficiently in doing what it needed to do.
I took these revelations and imagined the birth I wanted, but how I would also be open to whatever challenges God intended for me and how I could give in to that and be at peace. When I thought about music and ambiance that would help me remain calm, I chose to have church hymns from my Armenian heritage playing in the background as well as the peaceful sound of an Armenian instrument called the “duduk” which is a wonderful reminder of what my Armenian ancestors fought for and how I could be a fighter too. I hoped for a birth where I would remain calm, tackle each contraction one at a time, bring our baby into the world naturally and free from drugs and unnecessary medical interventions, and allow Lola to be present if she chooses to be near us during labor.
At exactly 35 weeks in my pregnancy, I began having strong contractions about ten minutes apart for a few hours. Christy came to our home and checked me to find I was almost fully effaced and beginning to dilate. She put me on strict bed-rest for two weeks, and each night when those contractions would start again, I was told to drink a little bit of wine and get in a hot bath. They always slowed down after that, and five days later, stopped happening altogether! By 38 weeks, I was off bed-rest but told to take it easy. I ventured out to a movie and dinner with my mom and ended up with even stronger contractions only 4 minutes apart and I thought this could be it! I didnʼt know it at the time, but Christy and Kelli were at another birth, so itʼs a good thing nothing came of these contractions and they stopped once I went to sleep that night.
Finally, at exactly 41 weeks pregnant, I woke up with the most intense contractions thus far, about 20 minutes apart. While they werenʼt so close together and seemed inconsistent in the early half of the day - I knew from the intensity that this had to be the real deal - but still, I kept it to myself until I had more evidence! Around noon, my husband was in the bathroom shaving his face, and I decided to give him the heads up about what I was thinking. The very moment I said, “Perry, I think tonight may be the night!” the countertop mirror he was using, mysteriously fell (on itʼs own!) to the ground and shattered! My superstitions threatened to get the best of me, but the truth was - I was too excited to meet this baby! By 2 pm, contractions were stronger yet, painful and 15 minutes apart. I got through these contractions by breathing through them, and taking a moment to pause and lean into the kitchen countertop during the most intense part. Christy was already heading to a weekend conference two hours away, in Waco, so I knew at this point I better give her a heads up! By 4 pm, they were changing from 10 minutes apart to 4 minutes apart, hurting in my lower abdomen and around to my back and I was feeling some nausea. Christy texted me that she was already back in the area and we kept in touch. I was breathing through these contractions, focusing on staying calm and relaxed but it was getting hard. I used my Pilates ball to lean into while I was on my knees on the floor of our bedroom. Christy suggested I try moaning through the contractions, so I began doing that, and while it felt silly - it got me into a rhythm which definitely guided me through the wave of each contraction.
In the meantime, Perry had gone to the post office to mail some DVDʼs we had made of Lola, to our family out of town (since we knew weʼd be too busy to do it once baby came!). By 4:30 pm contractions were still 4 minutes apart and Christy asked me whether I felt itʼs time to head to the birth center. I definitely thought so! I called Perry and told him not to speed, but that once he returned home, we would be leaving! My mom and Perry loaded up the car and we headed out. What I didnʼt know, is that our gas tank was on empty, and Perry was crossing fingers weʼd make the 30 minute drive to the birth center! During the car ride, I stayed comfortable by kneeling on the floor in the back, with my arms over the seat and Lola in the carseat next to me. As I moaned through each contraction, Lola held my hand and moaned with me! We arrived to the birth center sometime around 6 pm.
Christy and Kelli checked to see how far I was dilated, but would not tell me because they didnʼt want it to affect my perception or emotions. Surprisingly, I later found out that when I arrived at the birth center, I was already at a 9! I would have never believed it at the time - I kept thinking the pain would get so much worse, so I must have farther go to. I got into the huge jacuzzi tub, enjoying the hot water, and was so calm in between contractions that I was able to smile and joke around, holding conversation with those around me. In the birth room with me, were Perry, my mom, mother-in-law, Christy, Kelli and midwife, Melissa McCauley. The contractions were quite intense in my back now, so through each one, Perry or one of the midwives would put some serious arm strength into applying counter pressure - this almost completely eliminated the back pain for me and I could focus on just dealing with the intensity of the contractions. We soon realized that baby was posterior, so it was time to try some of the natural methods of turning the baby that I had prepared for ahead of time. It was around this time, that my water finally broke! I missed out on that during Lolaʼs birth, since they broke my water at the hospital - and was amazed to feel it felt just like a water balloon popping!
In order to persuade and encourage baby to turn out of the posterior position, we tried multiple positioning techniques in and out of the tub. I took the homeopathic remedy Pulsatilla, commonly known to help with a posterior positioned baby turning, and Kelli performed belly lifts during each contraction. Amazingly, through all of this, I succeeded at not letting fear take over! Baby didnʼt end up turning for us, but I was able to progress through labor nonetheless. I got back into the tub where I was far more comfortable, and soon began feeling urges to push. I would ask Christy ʻhow much longer,ʼ ʻwhen should I push,ʼ etc... and she would always put the ball back into my hands, saying “do you feel like itʼs time to push?” At the time, I was looking for someone to tell me what to do - depending on them to guide me through my labor. What I love and appreciate most about the midwives at All About Babies, is the way they put YOU in control of your own labor! Looking back, I see that Christy allowed for Perry and I to bring this baby into the world ourselves, with them only being there for support. How awesome is that!? So, when I felt the sensation to push, I pushed... it took about one hour, but soon, I felt babyʼs head emerge! I reached down and felt our babyʼs head and Iʼll NEVER forget that moment or the feeling that came over me! I quickly pushed again and our little baby girl was born in the water, only 4 hours after our arrival to the birth center! I wouldnʼt change a thing about it, and thanks to our amazing team, I canʼt wait to experience a natural child birth again should we be so blessed in the future!
Minka Barbara Minasian was born at 10:01 pm on Friday, September 16, 2011.