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There are two things in pregnancy that you never really expect to happen.

  1. Going past your 40 week estimated due date.
  2. Your water breaking before you actually go into labor.

Both happened to me, but in hind sight, I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Because I had planned on giving birth at Rite of Passage Birth Center in Pearland, the post date (overdue by “modern” ob standards) part had me a little worried.  I knew that I needed to go into labor by the ultrasound-set date of 42 weeks, or I’d not be able to give birth at the birthing center.

My midwives and I had a plan.  I was scheduled to go into the birth center on Monday, October 3, which was my 41 week mark to have my membranes stripped.  The idea was to try to get things going on Monday, and if it didn’t start labor, to come back on Tuesday morning, that way we had the week to stir things up.  We didn’t want to try to start at 42 weeks in case our attempts failed.  Please note, though, that by this time, I was term AND post date, so it was perfectly fine to try natural induction methods.  In post date pregnancy, you pick your battles, and membrane stripping was the lesser of two evils (the other was potentially risk a hospital birth).

Monday October 3, 2011 – 41 weeks pregnant

I started having contractions throughout the day, which I hadn’t really experienced before.  They would be every 10 minutes or so for a while and then go away, but I decided to skip out on the scheduled membrane stripping that afternoon in hopes that something would start up.  It is about a 45 minute drive to the birth center in the afternoons (with traffic), so I told the midwives that if nothing came of it, I would come in at 9 in the morning to go ahead and be stripped.

October 3, 2011, at 5:45, my water broke.  I was laying on the bed, trying to get a little rest, and I moved my leg a little to get comfortable, and I felt like water was filling up a bowl, so I slid off of the bed, and with locked knees, I headed to the toilet, where it all let loose.

At this point, I’m having no contractions, and as a doula, I know that you can go days with ruptured membranes and be fine, but for some reason, there was this little voice telling me that I really needed to go into the birth center sometime soon.  It wasn’t until after all was said and done, that I realized that my intuition was right.

I call my doula, Debbie Hull, and we talked for a while about what we should do.  We both agreed that I could just chill at the house with ruptured membranes, or I could go ahead and go in to the birth center for antibiotics because I was GBS+.

Andy, Debbie, and I decided to go ahead and go into the birth center around 10-11pm to start on antibiotics and to get stripped to see if things would start up.  My BFF Mary came over to go with us, and my mom came to stay with the boys. (Poor Mary, Andy sent her the wrong way on US59, so she took a TWO HOUR detour to the birth center.)

3cm, 50%ish effaced, and -2 station. I was at exactly the same place I had been for the past four weeks.  I didn’t let it get to me.  It’s part of it.

Everyone started arriving at the birth center. Rosemary Brown – my photographer and doula friend, Tara Phears – doula friend, Lourdes Resendez – doula friend and birth center assistant, and Mary and Kylie.

Around midnight, my midwife, Melissa White, stripped my membranes.  I started feeling contractions, but nothing really huge.  I sat on the birth ball.  I hooked up to the breast pump, which strengthened the contractions a little, but also made me have some HUGE cow udders… seriously.  My nipples were about 3 inches long inside those flanges!!

Contractions fizzled, and we all went to sleep.  Yes, all of us.  I second guessed myself, several times, for making the decision to go to the birth center when I really wasn’t in active labor.  I felt as if I was taking advantage of the space and everyone’s time.  However, once we woke up and things started moving along, I realized that the voice inside of me telling me to go ahead and go to the center… was right.

Sadly, Mary had to go home, because Paul couldn’t hack it alone!  No, in all seriousness, she forgot to leave the carseat for her son to get to preschool, so she had to head out.  Had we known what was about to quickly take place, he’d have had to just suck it up! :)

October 4, 2011, 7:30 am, Melissa stripped my membranes REALLY, really well.  I immediately started feeling strong contractions.  I walked around the birth center.  There’s a loop all the way around, and twice I made it to the same place before having another contraction, and as they began to get closer together, I’d make it half way around, then a quarter of the way, before the contractions would hit again.

All of the employees started arriving at the birth center.  Elissa Barfoot, the midwife apprentice, arrived and it was great to see her bubbly face!  I was also happy that Rebecca and Mary Lou were there during my labor.  They are always such a joy to be around!

My contractions were very low, like menstrual cramps. I felt nothing in my belly, at all.  I’ve heard people say “don’t touch my belly” during contractions, and I didn’t have that feeling at all.  There was tons of low, low pressure.

Debbie, Tara, Rosemary, Kylie, Andy and I were sitting in the birthing room talking about where the names of my other kiddos came from, and it seemed that each story somehow lead to funerals or death and dying.  I remember at one point saying to Debbie, “I guess birth and death are pretty connected, really.”  Which is actually true on a deeper level.

It was this point that I started talking about singing at weddings and funerals, and Debbie asked me to sing for her.  Of course, I’m sitting on the ball contracting.  We had Tara grab my camera to video my song, because I knew that those of you following Rosengurtle’s Birth wanted to see that!

I decided to sing His Eye is on the Sparrow, because the lyrics were so fitting for the moment. Here’s the video if you missed it.  That, and I just love the song the way Lauren Hill did it in Sister Act.  So beautiful.  It was rocky at times, but what I didn’t know is that I was about an hour and a half away from the arrival of my baby boy!

Contractions started getting really intense after walking around the birth center one last time.  I decide to go ahead and settle into my room because things were getting a little hairy for me, and it was dark, quiet, and I had lots of friends and support all in one room.  With the center going on about it’s daily business,  I now know the importance of asking if someone is in labor whenever I have an appointment so that I am not too loud.

My favorite spot for laboring was in the bathroom clutched to the sink with the light off doing a rocking, dipping like motion that Debbie asked me to try.  At first, I hated it.  It was a pain, not fun on my knees, but THE MOST ABSOLUTE ESSENTIAL part of bringing my baby down.

After dipping at the sink for a few contractions, I decided to go sit back on the ball, because my legs were feeling weak and heavy.  Debbie had Andy put his hands on my shoulders for comfort. He didn’t really know it at the time, but it helped me a lot.  Later, he told me that he didn’t really want to do that, because he knows how claustrophobic I am, and he thought I would feel weighted down.

I was in a lot of pain, but Debbie’s voice always seemed to bring me back to my center, and helped me melt into each contraction.  I remember her telling me to melt, that and God wasn’t going to give me any pain that was greater than me.  It never failed.  Just when I thought I was going to lose it, she would say the right words, and the contraction would start to settle.  At one point, I mentioned something about how God really did plan labor perfectly, because even though it would get hard and so painful, it wasn’t ever long enough to break me, and it always subsided into a few seconds of rest.

The ball felt counter productive for me.  While standing at the sink, or walking, it felt like the baby was moving down, but sitting on the ball, I felt corked.

At about 11:30am, I got up to go to the sink.  I turned the bathroom light off, and started dipping.  I had a couple of contractions, and I remember Debbie telling me, “you’ll know when the baby is almost here when the pressure doesn’t go away after the contraction has ended.”  That kept happening.

Around 11:40am, I had a contraction that brought the baby down, but when it was over, I didn’t feel the pressure, so I had to tell myself that it just wasn’t time.  I psyched myself up for being there for another 2-3 hours.  Debbie said she heard a quiver in my voice, and told everyone that “it was time”.

The very next contraction, I dipped down, and had to push!  I felt major crowning, standing a the sink, and I told Andy “Ring of Fire”!

Debbie told Rosemary to go get someone, and they said she ran through the birth center yelling “FIRE, FIRE” and they all jumped up, because it was absolutely time for baby!! (Of all things I wish was on video, that is it!)

I came out of the bathroom thinking I wanted to have the baby on the bed, because that’s where I’m most comfortable.  Everyone else thought we’d have a baby on the bathroom floor.

I laid on the bed and pushed once, and Elissa told me to hold off (the baby was coming SO extremely fast, my guess is she was trying to save me and the baby from trauma, drama, and damage!), and I remember saying “I can’t!”, but I did.

Kylie wanted to catch the baby, so she was trying to put gloves on, and Melissa finally told her to forget it!

One more push, and and the head was out.  We all noticed that his head was significantly smaller than Hawk’s (thankfully!)

11:47am – The final push, and the baby was born into Kylie’s arms.

Kylie started crying as she announced to the room “It’s a Boy.”  She was disappointed, because she wanted a girl so bad, but she’s totally find with it now.

A bit later, someone asked for his name and I looked an Andy. I wasn’t really sure what was going to come out of his mouth, because we were not really 100% sure.  Quickly and confidently he said:

Jett Layton Johnston


10/4/11 | 11:47 am | 9 pounds, 1 ounce | 21 inches

Nana and Mr. Bill arrived just a little late, but they were so happy to see their newest grandbaby – #6 (#7 is due in November!!!)!  Kylie kept Mimi, Mary, and her aunts (I hope!) posted via text.

I worried about going to the birth center too early for nothing.  As I see it, had I gone in to be stripped the day before and then gone home, I would have never made it back to the birth center in time to have the baby as fast as he came.  There would have been traffic, and by the time I would have driven home, gotten everything in order, and driven back, I may have had him in the toll booth!  On the other had, had I waited to go in on the morning of the 4th, there is no way I (or my birth team) would have gotten much rest knowing that I could potentially go into active labor at anytime.  As many doulas will tell you, once you get that first call, it’s not always easy to go back to sleep, even though you know that you’re going to need the rest.

I would like to thank everyone who attended the labor and birth of Jett, aka Rosengurtle.  The experience was more than I could have ever hoped for and dreamed of.  It was very peaceful, and I’m honored to have shared it with all of you.  All of my doula friends were amazing and supportive, and Rosemary is a fantastic photographer!  The midwives were spectacular and more than any natural laboring mom could ask for.

Also, thank you to those who followed Rosengurtle’s Birth Facebook page, even though it went so fast, it was hard to keep things updated (especially since my phone decided to screw up on me before we left for the birth center!)

*Disclaimer – Once I read over this again and again, I will probably remember someone or something that I left out.  Please forgive me!