Erika. new mom.
Born En Caul: Kaland's Birth Story
Astrophysicist and teacher Erika Grundstrom was thrilled to become a first-time mother. She and her husband, Bert, believe adventure is truly the spice of life, and she wanted to experience labor and delivery in its purest form, without medical intervention. When their son, Kaland Cosmo (Kaland means ‘adventure’ in Hungarian) was born at Baby+Company in Nashville, there was plenty of excitement to go around. Here’s their story:
“I wanted everything about my birth to be as natural as possible, but when I hit 41 weeks and nothing was happening, I started getting a bit nervous. On Monday during the middle of my 41st week, the midwives sat me down and explained that if I hit 42 weeks, I’d have to give birth in the hospital. If my baby didn’t arrive by Wednesday, I’d be induced on Wednesday morning.
My husband and I tried everything to get labor going. We had sex, took lots of walks, went swing dancing… I even tried spicy foods in the hopes that it would help. On Tuesday, I went in for a round of acupuncture and had the acupuncturist put needles in all the spots that are supposed to induce labor. After that session, I went to Baby+Company for my appointment and they told me to prepare myself for an induction.
I was heartbroken. I didn’t want to have my baby in a hospital. When my sister was induced, it took her days to have the baby and she was hooked up to monitors the whole time. I desperately wanted to have my child at Baby+Company, where I’d be surrounded by my midwives and I could labor in the tub and go home shortly afterwards.
After my appointment, I went back to the acupuncturist for another round and told him to really go for it. Then I went for a walk. At 11:30 on Tuesday night, I finally had my first real contraction. It felt much lower than the previous ones. When a second contraction came at midnight I thought things might finally be moving!
I got out my contraction timer and started timing. The first stage of labor progressed quickly. Within an hour, the contractions were 10 minutes apart, and a half hour later they were 7 minutes apart. I woke up my husband so he could time the contractions while I was in the shower. At two in the morning I called Baby+Company. I was scheduled to be induced at 5:30 in the morning, so I was hoping this labor would be quick.
Taneesha was on call, and she said we’d evaluate the situation at five, or to call if the contractions were three or four minutes apart. I got out of the shower, and the contractions became much longer and more intense. They were closer and stronger; I was having a very hard time controlling them. At 4:15, the phone rang. It was Labor and Delivery at Vanderbilt – they were calling to say they didn’t have room for me that morning! I was thrilled, especially because the baby was clearly on his way. By five in the morning, my contractions were about three and half minutes apart and ninety seconds long. Bert and my father got the car ready, and we headed to the birth center.
Margaret and the nurse, Heather, were there when we arrived. I was four or five centimeters dilated at that point. They checked in on us once in a while, but let me work through my contractions with the help of my husband. I had trouble getting comfortable, and finally perched on the edge of a hard chair where I could have counter-pressure against my pelvic floor. Around eight in the morning, Margaret suggested I try the tub. At that point, I started saying that it really hurt and I just wanted to go home. Apparently, many women feel this way right before the final push. When they checked me I was 9.5 centimeters dilated. I pushed in the tub briefly, and actually partially delivered the amniotic fluid sac.
I moved to the bed and pushed for another 20 minutes before Kaland was born en caul. He actually broke the sac himself! My husband announced the sex (we were keeping it a surprise) and it was a really thrilling moment. Everything had been so physically intense up until that point, and then it was very intense mentally. The whole experience was incredible. We ended up staying at the birth center for another five hours, until Kaland finally woke up enough to latch on and start breastfeeding. He’s such a sweet baby, and I’m so glad I got to give birth the way I wanted to.”