So I’ve been thinking a lot the past few days about the childbirth process and reflecting on my experience last time. I thought it would be nice to share my firstborn’s birth story on the blog. It’s also nice because I already wrote this a long time ago so this post requires minimal work on my part ;). I encourage everyone to read it, because natural childbirth is something that all women (and spouses/partners) should be educated on. My story is an example of how things can go very well! I hope you enjoy it!
The birth of her first child is undoubtedly one of THE defining moments of any woman’s life. I am so happy that I can now look back on that day as a completely positive experience. Everything about A’s birth was absolutely beautiful, and I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.
Let me start out by saying that anyone who is in relatively good health CAN and SHOULD deliver their babies naturally. I’m not gonna get into details here, but I highly recommend that anyone who ever plans to procreate (or anyone who has sex for that matter! I mean hey, I wasn’t planning it either!) watch The Business of Being Born. It is quite eye opening, and I guarantee you will learn something valuable.
So aside from just being sort of “crunchy” myself, this movie was part of what guided me towards a natural birth. I wanted everything to happen as nature intended. I wanted what was safest for my baby and would result in the quickest recovery. I wanted to be totally “in the moment” rather than drugged out. But above all, I wanted to feel child labor as God intended – as every woman has done for thousands of years (well… up until modern times that is!) For me, it was sort of a “right of passage,” and I was determined to make sure that some medical institution didn’t get in my way of achieving this.
I did a significant amount of research and reading since my work schedule did not allow me to take a natural childbirth class. Instead of seeing an obstetrician, I sought the help of a Certified Nurse Midwife. Midwives are MUCH better equipped at handling natural births than OB’s, who are more equipped to handle medical problems and C-Sections. CNM’s accept insurance and deliver babies at hosptials just like a doctor would. The only difference is that they will be MUCH more supportive of your decision for a natrual childbirth… and believe me, you need their support. My midwife just happens to be like the most awesome person ever. Seriously, I lucked out.
I went into labor at 3:41 AM on Monday, September 24th; 2 days before my due date. I had been having Braxton-Hicks contractions for weeks, but I immediately knew this was a real one! Since the average woman’s first labor lasts 8 hours, I decided to try and get a couple more hours of sleep. 8 minutes later, contraction #2 arrived. These contractions were only a little painful, but I was just so excited that it was hard to go back to sleep. 5 minutes later was contraction #3. Crap! They weren’t supposed to jump down that quickly! I decided to wake up husband and tell him that I was having legit contractions. He agreed that we should try to rest some more. Oh wait, here comes contraction #4. And they’re only 3 minutes apart now. Time to get up!
The first thing I wanted to do was take a shower because A) I didn’t know how long it’d be before I got a chance to take one and B) I thought the water might help ease the pain. While in the shower, the contractions were getting starting to get PAINFUL, i.e. I was doubled over and couldn’t do anything else until they were over. I’m glad I decided not to wash my hair because there’s no way I would have been able to dry it. No way.
During the shower, husband had been calling family letting them know that I was in labor. My mom and sister (who live about 3.5 hours away) were planning on being there for the birth. After showering I quickly got dressed then headed back to the bed, where I rolled around in pain for quite some time. I started to feel nauseous so I decided to go back to the bathroom and hang out by the toilet. It was pretty much inevitable that I was going to throw up – I’ve always been a puker.
Disclaimer: I look kindof scary in these photos, but there is nothing graphic in this post!
Sick Syd. Sad face 😦 Also – I spy an outie belly button! Haha
It is really hard to remember everything that happened during this time. I know husband was running around packing last minute things while I just tried to focus on getting through contractions, which were coming 2 minutes apart or less. This was the position that seemed to work for me the best. Having counterpressure applied to my lower back seemed to be helpful as well. The best way I can describe labor contractions is this: it feels like you have the worst charlie horse ever all over your entire midsection and back. At the same time there is this INTENSE downward pressure from within. Like you can feel that baby pushing down. You feel a little relief, then it just happens again. And again. And again. And it gains intensity as time goes on. Lemme tell ya folks, natural labor is not for the faint of heart!
My favorite labor position was some variation of this attractive “hunched over” pose:
We decided that since my contractions were so close together, it was time to head to the hospital. My plan was to labor at home for as long as possible to prevent uneccessary medical interventions to accelerate labor. (I’m lookin’ at you, pitocin!) So after a few more puking sessions, we hopped in the car and drove to the hospital.
That was by far the worst car ride of my life. Not being able to move during contractions was the worst thing ever. Once we got there, I could hardly even walk from the parking lot to the front door. I remember seeing a pregnant woman casually walking in with her bags packed, ready for her scheduled induction and thinking of how much I loathed her. Funny. Anyways, we went up to the registration desk on the 2nd floor and started registering. Oh wait, excuse me while I run to the bathroom mid-sentence to go throw up. Okay. At that point I gave up and let husband handle the paperwork. I went into the lounge area and hunched over on one of the couches. I’m sure I was scaring the shit out the people in the waiting room, but I obviously didn’t care.
A few minutes later, a nurse came to fetch me and bring me to Labor & Delivery. She conveniently provided me with a barf-bag (which I later utilized!) and a hospital gown to change into. Not long after, my nurse came in to triage me and check to see how far along I was. I was 6 cm dilated and 100% effaced. Yes! (For those of you who don’t know, you have to go from 0 to 10cm dilated and be 100% effaced in order to start pushing the baby out; I suggest googling “dilation and effacement” if you don’t know what these terms mean.) We were excited that the baby would be on its way soon!
Sidenote: during this entire process, I was going through excrutiating amounts of pain. It was difficult to even answer simple questions, and I thought I was going to die when I had to lay on my back for the nurse to check me.
I remember being asked to rate my pain during contractions on a scale from 1-10, but before I could even answer, the nurse said, “from the looks of things, I’d say that’s a 10.” She was right. I was at my limit. I rated my pain between contractions a 6. They asked if I wanted any pain control or epidural, and they were totally fine with me saying no. However, I could tell that they assumed I was going to come begging for an epidural later. They started explaining that they were going to give me a hep-lock to give me fluids or blood if needed. I then interjected saying that I did not want any needles in my arm at all. The charge nurse went through this spiel about how I could die and it’s a matter of seconds… blah blah blah. I just politely replied, “Thank you, but I am still going to decline.” Funny enough, I was totally scared of becoming a total psycho bitch while I was in labor, when in reality I was very nice, polite, and gentle. Go figure.
The nurses left husband and I alone. I alternated between my classic hunched over position, lying on my side, and a little walking around to get through contractions. So remember that 10 rating I threw out earlier? Well it turns out that the pain scale actually goes up to like 11 of 12, because somehow it continued to get worse. I NEEDED husband to give me a back massage during EVERY contraction or I felt like I was going to die. This is the last picture we managed to take before things got out of control. How fake does that smile look?
The home stretch of labor was probably the most mentally and physically challenging thing I have ever endured. (Update… running a full marathon on only 3 weeks of training might be close!). It was probably somewhere around 8:30AM when I said to husband, “I don’t know how many more of these contractions I can handle!” This is the one and only time I was negative during labor. Though I didn’t realize it at the time, I also believe this is the point where I reached transition (in other words, I was dilating to that last 10th cm). From what I’ve heard, it is not uncommon for women to experience a complete nuclear meltdown during transition. I’m glad this didn’t happen to me.
I was in a lot of pain and thought it might help to try a new position – I had read that squatting can be helpful. So I tried that and felt the urge to push. It was only 4-5 hours into labor so I thought it was way too early to push. Husband was kind of freaking out because we hadn’t seen a nurse in quite some time. He ran out into the hallway and told them that I felt like pushing. The nurse immediately came in and checked me. 10 cm! Call the midwife ASAP! Thank goodness it was during work hours and her office was right across the street. The midwife arrived in 10 minutes.
Those 10 minutes were NO JOKE. I was hurtin. But when Noel (the midwife) entered the room, I immediately felt calm and relaxed. I don’t know what it was about her presence that comforted me, but from that point on, labor was a breeze. We discussed birth positions, and I told her that I didn’t want to be on my back due to an increased risk of a tear/episiotomy and that squatting felt uncomfortable for me. We decided to go with a side-lying position. However, when I got in this position, I didn’t really feel the urge to push anymore. Figures. Noel suggested that whenever the next contraction comes that I should try pushing a little bit just to see how it feels. The instant I started to push, my water FINALLY broke! It was a TON of fluid.
After that happened, the urge to push returned with a vengeance. Noel coached me to inhale deeply, then hold my breath for 10 seconds while pushing as hard as I could. Then take one deep breath and repeat until the contraction is over. It was so hard to hold my breath for that 10 seconds, which is funny because earlier I wanted to hold my breath through every contraction (which is NOT what you’re supposed to do!) It was exciting because with every push I could feel her moving farther down the birth canal.
By some miracle, I also felt awesome during the pushing phase. I was not tired and I was not in pain. I remember asking husband for something to drink between contractions. I am so so so glad that I chose a natural birth so that I could fully enjoy this moment. During the 3rd contraction since that initial push, husband and Noel reported that they could see the head. I tried not to get too excited since I knew I still had a long way to go (most women push for about an hour). I was mentally prepared for an endurance event.
On the next push, I felt the most deep, intense, sharp pain. It felt as if my hip bones were being pried apart. I let out a short (but MEGA loud) scream. Noel was saying, “Sydney, reach down and pull out your baby!” but I was in such disbelief that I didn’t make it up there in time to catch her! (Noel caught her, of course). I was overwhelmed with shock and joy – I had no idea she would come so quickly. My sweet little girl was born at 9:06 AM. She was immediately placed on my chest and it was love at first sight!
Here she is at about 5 seconds old!
My sister made it to the delivery room like literally 1 minute after she was born. My mom followed about 20 minutes later. I was kind of glad that they weren’t there during labor though. I would’ve killed my mom. Oh it would’ve been a fight.
The first thing she did when she was born was both pee AND poop on mommy. Lol what a sweetie. Since she was placed skin-to-skin, my body naturally produced the oxytocin needed to deliver the placenta without an injection. Noel also informed me that I wouldn’t need any stitches at all (natural birth for the win!) Baby received perfect 10’s on both of her APGAR scores, and latched on to nurse within the hour. She was only removed from my arms briefly to be weighed.
After she nursed, the nurse helped me clean up and I was moved to the postpartum recovery floor. It was incredible how quickly I recovered – I was up walking around almost immediately. I felt great and was so happy that I didn’t have to deal with any medicine side-effects or epidural sites. All I had to do was enjoy the company of my new baby and our many visitors in the hospital. The baby and I were doing so well that we were discharged from the hospital the very next day, which is rare for a woman’s first delivery.
All in all, it was such a beautiful and amazing experience. Seriously ladies – natural is the way to go! You won’t regret it.
Okay, so did I sell anyone on natural childbirth? Thoughts?
Anyone ever had a home birth? I really wanted to do it at home, but insurance doesn’t cover it here.
If you’ve had children, what would you like to do differently from last time?