Birth Story from Emily Frame

September 21, 2011

Note from Design Mom: After a 7-month pause, the Growing-a-Family series is back! Twice a month I’ll be posting stories about pregnancy, birth and adoption. I’m not pregnant — I promise. I just miss the stories. : ) First up: A birth story from Emily Frame.


I think most first time moms can agree that we are prepped and primed to believe that our first go at pregnancy will last for 42 weeks and labor will take at least 36 hours before we meet our bundles of joy. I most definitely believed it and with a month left in my first pregnancy my husband found a great deal on about 1,000 square feet and a project seemed to be the perfect solution. Who wants to bring a newborn home to the peaceful sounds of nail guns, sanders, and toxic stain fumes? Not us. So he got started ripping up our existing tile, carpet and wood flooring and later that afternoon we headed to our 36-week appointment.

When we learned that I was 80% effaced and dilated to a four, we felt a little panicked. My main goal was to keep that baby cooking for at least another week, to give his lungs more time to develop and my husband time to finish his large and now worst-idea-ever project.

One full week of men working around the clock and it was time to head to our 37-week appointment. While I had felt cramping for a couple hours the night before, I was still feeling great and after all the stories of “you’ll just know” when contractions start, I didn’t know if I had felt a real one yet.
My doctor checked me and laughed. I was now dilated to a six, 90% effaced and as he said I had “one bulgy bag of water”. I also tested positive for Strep B and needed at least one four-hour round of antibiotics before our baby was born to ensure he didn’t catch it. The doctor ordered us to the hospital straight away to start the antibiotics and to not waste any time.

We headed back home; I grabbed a water bottle out of our fridge (which was currently in our garage) and packed our hospital bag. I took one last look around our home, covered in dust, wood scraps, and about 600 square feet left of flooring to install and 1,000 that would still need to be sanded and stained.
We headed to the hospital, and faced confused nurse after confused nurse. “No, I haven’t had any contractions, yes I am at a six.” The sheer improbability of it all hung in the air like a balloon and followed me everywhere. They hooked me up and started the antibiotics and I watched the monitor as contractions came and went, I wasn’t feeling a thing.

As we neared the end of our 4-hour session, the on-call OB suggested we start pitocin and get my contractions consistent. My plan was a natural med-free delivery, but hoping I might avoid that looming 36-hour labor curse I agreed. I was dilated to an eight at this point but our said “I’d like to get your contractions to a place where you can’t laugh or smile like you are now.” So at 8 p.m. they came in with that large crochet hook to break my water. I waddled to the bathroom to clean up a bit and bam, there sitting on the toilet; I felt my first true blue contraction. Whoo-wee. I felt urgent about getting back in bed and started what little I could remember of Lamaze breathing. With my mom on one side and my husband on the other we worked through each contraction.

By the time I was in transition I was exhausted and it had only been an hour! With the Pitocin in my system I barely had any time in between each contraction and they were off the monitor charts. I was so tense during each contraction I couldn’t even hold my head up in between, so my husband held my head. My mom inches from my face tried to get me to follow her breathing “hee hoo hee hoo” but all I could say was “heehooaaahhouchhh.” And just when I thought I couldn’t do it for another second, bam! The overwhelming urge to push took over.

It was now 10 pm and my doctor had gone home to sleep. They paged him and said he’d be here any minute, but at this point I was like, “Who?! Give me the stirrups!” That first contraction I started pushing was rejuvenating and invigorating. Finally, I could do something about this intense pressure; labor was in my hands now. I pushed my heart out and gasped for breath in between. With a group of nurses cheering me on I quickly learned what a good push looked and felt like and I was feeling like a warrior. If I had a crappy push, I did an extra one (where this motivation is when I’m at the gym, I’ll never know.) Finally the doctor arrived, guided me through three more pushes and then said, “Stop pushing!” I didn’t know if I could, at this point I was just guiding the pressure I felt. My mom told me to take small quick breaths and I was able to hold onto that overwhelming need to push. After a moment that felt like an eternity he said “Okay, push! Hard!” And then a cry! He offered the scissors to my husband to cut the cord but he could barely see through his tears, we were both so overcome. They laid his perfect tiny body on my chest and it was like the last three hours hadn’t even happened. Peaceful, blissful, calm. At 11:12 pm on March 10th, 2010 weighing in at 7 pounds 8 ounces and 20 inches long, Hayes showed his beautiful face three weeks ahead of schedule.

Somehow two days later, we walked into our house and why yes, the fridge was still in the garage, but our floor was done.

By Emily Frame of Ruffling Feathers. Images of the Frame Family by Nicole Carman Christensen.

P.S. — For a little contrast, here’s 35 hour labor story from Michelle Hartney.

Note from Design Mom: throughout my 6th pregnancy, I posted advice, memories and stories about pregnancy, childbirth, adoption and growing a family on Wednesdays. My baby is hardly a baby anymore — here’s her birth story and her newborn photos — but the series has been so popular that I’m continuing it indefinitely. You can find all the stories in this series by clicking here. Have a story you’d like to share? I’d love to read it. You can send it to me at

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Shannon (8foot6) September 21, 2011 at 9:09 am

Oh man I am nervous to have a baby naturally…We had a midwife and planned a natural birth with my first son, but he was breech (we tried everything to turn him)…this time, so far, we are vertex. I am prepping for VBAC. fingers crossed (I have 6 weeks to go)


2 mattie September 21, 2011 at 9:22 am

i love this! this is almost exactly how my second labor/delivery went except i had an epidural. i didn’t even feel one painful contraction. i went to my 39 week appointment dilated to a five and had my membranes stripped. i had little contractions all day and went to the hospital just in case. i didn’t want to have a baby on the freeway and i needed the antibiotic as well. i had little cramps for a long time, but once i had that little dose of pitocin, i went from an 8 to a 10 in five minutes. i think i could have handled it without the epidural because it went so quickly, but i was too scared. good for you for sticking to your plan!


3 Lynne K September 21, 2011 at 9:24 am

Just the other day, I was hoping you would bring back the birth stories, and now you have! I looked forward to them every week with my first pregnancy, and now I’m carrying #2! Birth stories make me so happy!


4 Design Mom September 21, 2011 at 12:29 pm

Oh good! So glad I could make you happy.


5 AnEmily September 21, 2011 at 10:52 am

Thanks for bringing these back. My kids are 8 and 11, but I still get excited to read birth stories.


6 Design Mom September 21, 2011 at 12:28 pm

You’re welcome, Emily. I get excited too.


7 Anna Kitchens-Culp September 21, 2011 at 11:46 am

What a small world (wide web)–I know Emily Frame from school! She’s a great mother and talented woman. I am glad you brought the family growing stories back. Even though I’m not currently adding to mine, I like to hear about those precious moments when a parent realizes they’ve etched another person into their heart forever.


8 MrsF September 21, 2011 at 11:55 am

OMG!!!! I am covered head-to-toe in goosebumps right now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That is pretty much how my daughter came into the world only a few days after Emily’s beautiful boy was born (albeit at 36 weeks). My labour (which felt like menstrual cramps) was brought on by Strep B. I’d planned a Zen-like, drug-free, natural, water [hypno] birth experience but at 36 weeks a water birth was a no-no. I did get my Zen-like, drug-free, natural [hypno] birth, though (my Mum was surprised at how relaxed and smiley I was throughout – lol!) and it was the most wonderful 4-and-half hours of our lives.


9 Erin September 21, 2011 at 12:39 pm

Super! Glad to these again. Glad to see you, too, Emily Frame. (I popped on over to your blog and left a comment there, too.)


10 cheree September 21, 2011 at 2:21 pm

so happy that you are bringing this series back! it means even more now that I am pregnant and expecting baby #1.


11 Shannon @ A Mom's Year September 21, 2011 at 2:30 pm

I love this series, too! So glad to see it’s back. I feel very lucky because I’ve had three birth stories and one adoption story, so I know what they both feel like. :-)


12 the emily September 21, 2011 at 4:01 pm

What a beautiful story! I love it. Although I have to add–I had a natural birth with my second baby. I had no idea I was in labor, although I was feeling the contractions, because I had never felt one single contraction with my first baby (lovely, lovely epidural). So by the time I got to the hospital with baby #2 I was too late for any medication. I hadn’t taken any preparation classes for breathing or anything and was totally unprepared for a natural birth. Luckily it was fast, under two hours, but I never felt the urge to push, only very extremely intense pain, and pushing made it a thousand times worse. I cannot understand where the relief comes for other women in the pushing. Every push was excruciatingly worse than the contractions alone.


13 clairsy September 21, 2011 at 6:26 pm

With my first due in 6 weeks it’s lovely to hear a positive story that isn’t the marathon of pain that you normally hear. It sort of seems a shame the docs wanted to use pitocin, I wonder how it would have gone had Emily been allowed to continue as she was – sounded like she was doing a great job! Thanks for sharing Emily – beautiful bub.


14 Emily Frame September 23, 2011 at 12:33 pm


Too bad I was a rookie mom and had no idea what Pitocin really was! I had my second baby in July sans Pitocin and labor only took 30 minutes! You live and you learn ;)


15 Heather September 22, 2011 at 8:43 am

Thank you, thank you for bringing the birth stories back! I would love a baby #3…right now, these stories will have to suffice! xo


16 Joyce C. September 22, 2011 at 5:06 pm

I’m so glad birth stories are back! I loved them and missed them! I was just thinking to myself what happened to them so I’m glad you put them back! Thanks!


17 Octavia DB September 23, 2011 at 4:21 pm

Congratulations! Your baby has my birthday and my first born’s exact measurements :)


18 Hollie September 23, 2011 at 10:33 pm

Yippee! Birth stories are back! (Well, I love the not-birth stories, too). Gabrielle, this series MADE my birth experience. It made me totally calm when my birth plan went out the window thanks to a medically necessary induction at 36 weeks (goodbye, birthing ball and walking the baby down; hello, catheter, IV, pitocin, mag sulf, antiobiotics, etcetera) because I had read so many birth stories that I was rolling with the punches. Thanks to you and the other awesome moms who shared, I knew that even if things went crazy (and they did), I would probably come out the other side with a baby and that’s what mattered.


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