Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Griffin’s birth story—experiencing nonmedicated labor

Most of this was recorded by Darin the day after Griff was born.  His words are in black and my comments/additions are in red.  He did get most of it right—only a few minor corrections. ; )

Active labor

Rachel sang John Denver during her contractions. We had his albums playing in the background and Rachel chimed in every time a contraction came. She found it accomplished the same thing as a breathing exercise only it was far more enjoyable and distracting.  Yes, looking back, a little embarrassing, but hey…you gotta do what you gotta do! The embarrassing part was that if I started having an intense contraction and I didn’t know the song, I just sang whatever came to me (NOT pretty, I’m sure) and if the song was too slow, I’d sing the same song, but not staying with the music at all—I took my own tempo.  I just was in my own world and did whatever helped me get through each contraction.  I felt like I came back to Earth again between contractions.  It worked wonders for a few hours and was a great experience while it lasted. All of the attending nurses commented on the uniqueness of it all, and came in quietly because they felt like it was to special too interrupt.  As the contractions increased in intensity became super intense it became harder for her to focus and relax.  Eventually singing wasn’t cutting it.  When my singing became forced and tense, I realized it wasn’t helping my cause.  I felt like it was slowing my labor because I was battling every contraction with my voice instead of letting the contraction work for me. 

Side note: Later this singing experience became so significant to me as I remembered that my grandfather Keith Griffin (who our son is named after and who died before I could meet him) loved John Denver and would often sing to his music in the car. Such a sweet coincidence that he and I have that in common and it played such a roll in little Griffin’s birth.

Transition stage

Rachel reached a point about 3 hours away from pushing when she hit a wall. Singing was no longer helping, nor was counter pressure (which unfortunately didn’t work as well this time as it did during labor with Kayden). I told her to lock eyes with me and focus on relaxing. I am convinced this was pure inspiration Darin received.  I couldn’t believe how much this helped me. We fell into a groove where she would relax and sleep between contractions and then lock eyes with me during each contraction. At times I saw pure terror in her eyes. I did all I could to exude confidence and love through my eyes. He’s right—that’s exactly what I saw and felt from his eyes. We went on like this for a few hours, saying very little. Sometimes when she was being examined for dilation or was otherwise caught off-guard by a contraction she would lose her focus and begin to panic. I got her to lock eyes with me and we worked together to calm down again. If she was relaxed and focused before a contraction started, she could breathe through it without a hiccup. She told me it was still unbelievably painful, but being relaxed kept her from panicking. During all of this we tried a variety of positions: hands and knees on the bed, reclined on the bed, standing and slow dancing, and bouncing on an exercise ball (majority of the time). On the birthing ball she had a stretch of about 40 minutes where she didn’t move or change her breathing. She was like a statue. Rachel had her hands on my thighs and we both leaned forward and I supported her head with my forehead. She fell asleep between each contraction. Dr. Honey Onstad and our nurse Elizabeth came in twice during this”in the zone” phase and were obviously very impressed. But no one was more impressed than I was. My mom was in the room at this point and said it was really scary to see me in such extreme pain and then suddenly see me stop moving. She did an awesome job staying away though. She totally gave us the space we needed and kept to herself through most of this experience. Very smart Mom!

At about 1:30 she started to feel a lot more pressure at her cervix and could barely remain focused and rationale during her contractions. At one point she was considering an epidural. We locked eyes again and we relaxed. We had to do this a few more times. Jenny and I teamed up at this point to encourage and convince her that she still had the strength to finish labor and push. I was totally convinced she could do it. In addition to helping her relax I started to pray that the baby would come now! It was time! And so it happened. All three of us were praying for the same thing I’m sure.

  labor colage


The urge to push put Rachel over the top. She didn’t relax again, but one final eye-lock brought her back and I think calmed her enough to not be afraid. That is what happened over and over. She would get scared and then panic. The pain didn’t change much, according to her, but the relaxation helped her to move onward. Back to the pushing….. She pushed for about ten minutes and then suddenly the baby was out. It happened so fast!!!!! Her first push brought the crown of the baby out. She wasn’t coordinating her pushes with her contractions; instead she just maintained a constant push. It was incredible. Honey hardly had to help the baby out, until she saw that the cord was wrapped around Griffin’s neck. She didn’t tell us that in the moment, but just cut the cord and immediately put Griffin on Rachel’s chest. He was covered with blood and other lovelies, and wasn’t responding much. No crying or anything. The nurse quickly took him over to the table and wiped him off to “stimulate him”. My heart was caught in my throat. For a split second worst case scenarios started to flash across my eyes. I remember asking everyone, “why isn’t he crying? shouldn’t he be crying??” I was confused by the fact that everyone seemed to be so calm—even my mom, who I was sure would demonstrate some visible concern if she was thought there was something wrong.  I just watched her, with camera in hand, quietly and calmly make her way over to the nurse who had the baby .  It looked like she was just going to take some photos. Still… no one was answering or even acknowledging my questions.  Looking back, I am so grateful that everyone was careful to not panic me.  I already felt a bit delirious from labor and I’m sure I would have reacted completely irrationally if I knew there was something to be concerned about.  Fortunately that lasted only a few seconds before he started to cry and they returned the baby to me.  He had no residual effects of the cord trauma and we were blessed to have a healthy baby boy!


just after birth collageKayden meets Griff Collage


  1. Love birth stories! Did you have Kayden with an epidural? What are your conclusions on each type? Obviously, each labor is different, but which did you like better and why?

  2. Those pictures are so cute!! Aaaah! Your babies are so perfectly adorable.

  3. This was inspiring to read. I can only imagine how that experience brought you and Darrin together--so sacred. Glad we're friends!