year story took place in. 2013.
country birth took place in. united states.
Eight years later I had my first daughter and again had a very uneventful birth, but this time I was determined to do things a little more my way. I had to literally fight to not be induced. I would be told they were scheduling an induction and I would say, “Well I won’t be there”. I was eight days late and finally went into labor two days before they told me I had to be induced. I went to 7 cm and finally got my epidural after a long day of laboring and being told to stay in bed.
My next child came shortly after my daughter. They were 17 months apart. I used the same doctor as I did with my daughter and again argued with them about being induced. Luckily he came only four days late. My labor was again the same - about seven hours of active labor and at 7 cm I received an epidural. Once I received my epidural I went into shock. My whole body began shaking to the point I thought my teeth were going to crack. I asked the nurse to help me and all I was told was, “Don’t worry. Its normal”. I gave birth to my second son and was not able to hold him for about a half an hour because of the shaking. To say the least it was not an overall happy experience.
Now we knew we wanted more children but I knew for myself I needed to find a better way of doing this. A way that I was in charge of my body and the decisions that happened during labor. I found a midwife in my area who delivered at the hospital near my house. I decided I was going to have a natural birth. My husband said no. He was very sure that one, I couldn’t do it, and two, I would die (his exact words). But I came to a conclusion that I could do it because I was made to and all my labors had been about the same with no complications. My midwife agreed that I was a good candidate for natural birth, and that I was more than capable.
My due date came and went like expected but when I was almost 42 weeks we began talking about induction. It broke my heart that all my planning was about to go out the door. But two days before my induction date I began having contractions around 11:30pm. I decided I wouldn’t wake anyone. So I packed my bag and went to sleep. Around 2 am the contractions woke me up, and I knew it was time to make some calls. I went to the hospital a little earlier than normal with a natural birth because I had to receive antibiotics for a positive group B test. My husband and I arrived at the hospital around 3am and my sister-in-law was there shortly after. I was checked in, given my antibiotics, and put on a monitor for maybe five minutes. After that I was asked several routine questions including was I planning on using drugs and my answer was no and do not ask me if I want them. I also let them know I wasn’t a touchy lovey person. I really just wanted to be left alone. My midwife always thought this was so funny.
Once we were checked in my midwife came in and checked and let me know she would be right outside if I needed anything. (That is also a plus to a midwife. They are there from beginning to end.) So we began to walk the halls. My husband took a nap at one point while my sister and I just walked. We talked about anything we could think of and every time we passed the nurses lounge, we joked about stealing the donuts. During the walking the contractions would get bad at points and I would try to just push through them. Movement helped during the times I would have to be monitored and have a contraction. It was always so much more intense. I remember thinking to myself, "How in the world did I lay in a bed and get through these for hours on end?"
The walking helped for about 3-4 hours, but it got to a point where I could no longer walk through the pain. I would have to stop and lean against the wall; I knew it was time to stop walking. This was a point where I knew I needed to find a new form of management. I decided to take a hot shower and just sat with the water breaking on my back which helped. This was the time my sister got there. She thought it would be fun to face time my mom (yes, I was still in the shower). I finally got out and moved on to the yoga ball. I would sit pretty still in between contractions and have conservations. But during the contractions there was a lot of concentration and slow deep breathing. At one point I was breathing very fast through the contraction and my sister-in-law had to remind me how to breathe. Once I got my breathing under control it became a lot easier to manage.
By this point my contractions were about every two minutes and starting to last longer. I was getting close to the point where I had always thrown in the towel and asked for an epidural. But I was staying calm, I knew myself and I couldn’t allow myself to cry. I knew once I did, I wouldn’t stop. I had to just focus on one contraction at a time not ever thinking about the next one just remembering that there was an end to this one. It was monitoring time again but this time they allowed me to stay on the ball, which helped slightly. My husband was doing his best to support me by holding my hand, rubbing my back or just telling me it would be ok. I finally broke down, it was a bad contraction and I was tired and felt very defeated. I cried, I sobbed through the whole two minute contraction. Once it was over my sister-in-law told me, “ok it’s over no more crying. Get it together”. And she was right I had made it this far. I could keep going.
I sat on the bed to be monitored and the back pain was very intense. My midwife placed warm pads on my back but it didn’t do much good. I honestly was at a point where I thought it was over. There was no way I could keep doing this, and they saw that. So we decided it was time to get into the hot tub. They prepared the tub for me and walked down the hall to a quiet calm room. I got in the tub with just a sports bra on and my husband, sister, and sister-in-law were all in there with me. I got in the tub and just sank into myself. I remember thinking I wish they would just talk to each other. I could feel them just looking at me. The warmth of the tub was amazing and I remember feeling a feeling of relaxation which was very nice considering I had been in labor for over seven hours at this point.
But then everything changed. I heard more than felt a pop! It was my water breaking. This was something I was not prepared for because I had always had an epidural by this point. I screamed out, “Something is happening!” and chaos broke out. The lights came on and nurses came running into the room. They were telling me to get out that the baby was coming, and I couldn’t stay in the tub. I looked at them like they were crazy. This was real pain now and I couldn’t move. My husband came to me and helped me out as best he could; they wrapped a towel around me and put me in a wheelchair. They wheeled me to a different room, one that was right next to the tub room. This room was not ready for me or the baby so people were running around like crazy to get it set up. I was told to get on the bed so I climbed on and was begging for someone to please put my nightgown back on. (I know you are about to have a baby and my modesty kicks in.)
My midwives were there and I was told the baby was coming and to start pushing. The only thing I could recall from my class on this part of labor was that when the baby came down the birthing canal it could feel like an Indian burn. But by this point everything was so crazy I had lost control of my ability to stay calm and the main two things I felt were pressure and fear. I was so overwhelmed with what was going on at this point. It was like a movie, the screaming and people running around.
I began to push as hard as I could. It was so much different than any other time because it was all me, no one was helping the baby come out. They were allowing him to come on his own. I was breathing very hard and everyone told me to try and calm down, but I couldn’t. I had lost my control and had to just get it over with. I remember asking for someone to help me, to help me get him out and everyone just kept reassuring me I could do this. I remember my sister telling me, “You were made to do this” and me thinking I regret telling everyone that. I was so close to the baby being out I actually saw his head come out slightly. I had nothing left in me and so I just said to myself one last time give it all you got. So I sat up as much as I could, grabbed whoever I could, screamed like an exorcist, and pushed as hard as humanly possible. And then he was out just like that. Cole Michael had come into the world.
One of the most incredible parts of this whole experience was actually watching my baby come out. He looked huge. As soon as he was out they laid him on my chest where he stayed for about ten minutes until it was time to cut the umbilical cord. No suctioning him or weighing him right away. He was with me where he belonged, and he knew it. I felt like I was a little bit in shock, like everything that just happened couldn’t have really happened. It was a little rough laying there with him at one point. My amazing baby was here, but I could feel the cord half inside me.
Once they took him off I was told I had to push the placenta out. My response was no. My sister looked at me like I was crazy for telling them no, but I just wanted to be left alone for a minute. Finally I came around and it came out very easily. I ate my breakfast and we were moved to our new room. Cole nursed so easily and I thought that maybe I was just a pro by now, but the nurse told me that natural born babies nurse a lot easier because they are so alert. Cole and I rested off and on for the rest of the day. My friend who was pregnant at the time and wanted to have a natural birth texted me. She asked how it was. My answer was simply “terrifying”.
The next day when I woke up I felt amazing not just mentally but physically. After all my other children one of the worst parts for me was after having the baby the way my bottom felt. But this time was so different. I felt almost normal. There was no burning when I used the bathroom, and I had no need for the ice packs. The next day when my midwife came to check on me she asked me what I thought of the whole experience and I said, “I thought it was crazy, but I’m happy I did and very proud.”
At my six week appointment she asked me if I would do it again and my answer was absolutely. And I still stand by that. I believe as women and mothers we need more control on what happens to us in the delivery room. Yes, the people working with us are trained but it’s our body and we know what’s going on. Trust yourself and know that having babies is a beautiful and natural thing that God has given us the power to do. I tell anyone who will listen about my experience and how hard it was but how great it truly was. Some people (most people) look at me like I’m crazy for doing that and for wanting to. But I won’t pretend like it was a walk in the park. It wasn’t. I wish I had been more prepared for the actual birth so I could have stayed calm. But it's ok the way it happened too because of the end result, Cole. I think if you are good with the doctor and epidural route then that’s ok, but look into your options and know that you have them. Thank you for letting me share my story with you.