Hey everyone! Haven't posted much, but have loved following all your stories throughout my pregnancy! Thought I'd share my birth story (July 22) that I typed up the other night to submit to the spearmint baby blog :)
July 20th came and went. My due date. And along with it came a flood of anxiety. I was about to give birth. For years I had been dreaming of a natural childbirth. All winter long, driving to class, I’d sing along to Mandisa’s “Stronger” on K-Love while dreaming of the strength I’d feel pushing my baby into the water, drug free. But now, at forty weeks, I felt terrified knowing what lie ahead of me. I wondered if I had really made the right decision: driving over an hour away to deliver with midwives.
My appointment was with Pam. I’d met her once before, between all my appointments with the four different midwives in the practice. My anxiety was high as she brought up what I knew what inevitable. Checking my dilation and doing a membrane sweep. Up until this point, I had chosen not to check my dilation. For me personally, I liked not knowing and just trusting my body to do what it needed to in its own time. The membrane sweep scared me. During my fortieth week of pregnancy with my first son, Roman, I had my membranes swept. After nine months of dealing with hyperemesis gravidarum, I was desperate to give birth to Roman. I remember the OB telling me that within 24 hours, I’d probably be at the hospital. 24 hours later, active labor kicked in.
So now, with the membrane sweep being offered to me again, I felt like I was CHOOSING for the painful experience of childbirth to come. I just couldn’t do that, I still had so much fear about giving birth, especially with my desire to do it naturally. I was indecisive, and after finding out that I was 2 cm dilated and about 75 % effaced, my emotions got the best of me and I broke into tears.
Pam helped me to decide against the membrane sweep. She sat down with me and asked me what I was so fearful of. She reassured me once again that she really thought I was great candidate for natural childbirth. She told me that if this was what I really wanted, I could definitely do it. She told me I needed to let go of my fears about the birth. That once I could do that, my baby would come.
I left the appointment feeling emotional, but refreshed. This is what I had wanted when I chose midwifery for this pregnancy. A woman who treated my pregnancy like it was unique and special. A chance to be listened to. I spent the long country drive home opening up to my husband about my feelings about the birth.
That evening I felt good. I felt much more peaceful about the birth and more confident in my decisions. I decided to go shopping at target for an exercise ball. My midwife had recommended I bounce on one to move the baby down. I ate dinner at Panera with my son and sister in law. I remember the food tasting SO good, all of my senses were just bursting with clarity. All afternoon and evening I felt my contractions slowly picking up. By nighttime, my husband was cleaning the house and preparing in case we had to leave for the hospital.
All night long I contracted. I bounced on the ball. I got on my knees. I slept on and off. I had my husband try out some of the techniques that we had learned in our childbirth class. But at this point, light back scratching just wasn’t doing it. That deep startling pain in my back was definitely here to stay. As morning came, we scurried around cleaning and packing, tossing around ideas of when to go to the hospital. I leaned on the counters, I bounced on the ball some more, and finally decided to call my midwives.
I was so happy to find out that Pam was the midwife on call. I remember her talking to me for so long on the phone. Bring your own pillows, don’t leave for the hospital yet, she’s reserving the best birthing room for my natural childbirth. All the while, I was feeling so anxious, thinking no, this can’t be it. It’s not strong enough; I’m probably not even in labor.
So I labored around the house some more. During a contraction, I’d think “Ok I am leaving for the hospital NOW.” Then the contraction would pass, and I’d think, “No, no, it’s not time.” Finally, around eleven, we decided it was time to call my sister in law to stay with roman. Since we had a long drive ahead of us, we figured we’d at least drive closer to the hospital and hang out around town.
We drove to the hospital. My husband tried to keep track of length between contractions while he drove. About 5 minutes. I sat in the front seat the whole way. When we got into town, I still didn’t feel ready to go to the hospital. I wanted to wait as long as possible. I wanted to give myself a good chance for natural childbirth, and additionally I dislike hospitals. Since my husband was hungry, we went to Wendy’s. After enduring about two contractions in a hard backed chair, I realized that laboring in Wendy’s is a TERRIBLE idea. So we went back to the car.
I kneeled in the backseat, over my birthing ball during contractions. I remember seeing a guy parked in a truck next to us and thinking that I must be a pretty funny sight! Realizing the ridiculousness of laboring in the backseat of our car, when I could have a bed and a bath and hospital halls to walk through, I decided to go to the hospital. But once we got inside I still didn’t want to go to the maternity ward! We walked to the cafeteria and sat down. I had a contraction, and said, “Ok we’ve got to go now.” But when we got to the elevators, I decided again that it wasn’t time and sat down. Another contraction, and finally we went up to the seventh floor.
In triage, I convinced myself that I wasn’t in labor. It just didn’t feel strong enough and I felt stupid laying there with the fetal monitors on, thinking they probably weren’t picking up anything. My midwife was assisting a birth, so the nurse checked me. FIVE CENTIMETERS! I was admitted. I couldn’t believe it. It was probably about 2 o’clock at this point.
So I labored on. Walking the halls with my husband, hanging on him as he rubbed my back. Leaning over the back of the bed on my knees. I had no IV, no fetal monitors. I had a big water bottle filled with ice water, and I was able to snack on graham crackers and peanut butter.
Yes, it hurt a lot. The release of the contraction was the best feeling. The feeling that it was dying down and oh the rest in between… bliss. The nurses periodically monitored my baby with the Doppler. It was irritating to have to hold still while they held the monitor. Everyone was encouraging, telling me how great I was doing.
Walking the halls again, the contractions were starting to double and triple up on themselves. The contractions would peak and then peak again and then AGAIN, and I‘d drop all the way down to the ground before it would die down. And then I’d have a couple weak contractions that didn’t even feel that strong. My midwife’s assistant came in around this point, and I asked her when I would get checked again. She started a speech about how getting checked can just be disappointing when you find out you haven’t progressed much, and that it would probably be a while. The midwife momentarily showed up and asked how I was managing and if I needed to try something else for the pain, like the tub. I told her that I really had wanted to save the tub for when things were really getting bad, but that I was feeling a little stressed about the pain. She checked me and said, “No wonder you are feeling pain, you are EIGHT CENTIMETERS!” She told me I could start pushing if I wanted. My response was, “There is no way I’m eight centimeters. It’s not painful enough!” I felt in a daze as things starting getting hectic. They moved me into a big gorgeous birthing room, the one my midwife was saving for my natural childbirth that she was so sure I’d have. People started multiplying in the room, and they wheeled all that baby stuff that comes out of hiding when your baby is about to come.
I stood there waiting for the tub to fill up, and I started feeling like maybe I wasn’t in labor again. I was just standing there rubbing my own back, feeling like there was no way this was it. I was super excited to take off the hospital gown and get in the tub. This was what I had been waiting for! Stripping down to my hot pink sports bra and being in the water. And for that first moment, it felt VERY good. I stretched out in the tub staring out at the gorgeous blue sky. But, I was quickly reminded of the intense pain of childbirth. I just felt so confused that I truly had come to this point. I’d read so much about labor. Transition in my mind meant a lot of things: cold sweats, throwing up, panicking and begging for an epidural, I had prepared for all of these things. But here I was just sitting in this tub, in a lot of pain, but still so pulled together. I was still waiting for everything to fall apart. The pain was intense. I was moaning a lot.
And then I felt the baby. He was there and wanted to come out. My midwife said, “If pushing feels good, then go ahead and push.” To which I told her, “Oh, I’m pushing!” I remember people everywhere. I remember an older man standing by the baby warmer. I remember smiling women all around the tub telling me how great I was doing. All the while I was just rocking my hips back and forth, moaning. Loudly. I had no idea who all these people were, and I didn’t really care. I just cared about getting my baby out, and all of these people seemed very fascinated and interested in that, and that was okay by me. I was glad they were here, they seemed to be enjoying themselves watching me moan and push. Then after a few more contractions, my midwife wanted me out of the tub. She said, “You’re going to have to get out of the tub eventually, so you may as well do it now.” I held onto two women and walked to the bed.
My baby was born while I sat on the bed, holding my legs back. This was the worst pain. Everyone was encouraging me, and kept saying “One last push!” Which would lead to more and more one last push. It seemed to be taking forever. It was painful and uncomfortable. I kept crying out, “Oh God, it hurts!” I remember thinking that there was no way any other woman in that hospital would be having a natural childbirth that day, because I was definitely scaring them out of it!
And finally, Asher Michael was born! After I birthed his head, his body followed, and I felt very thankful to feel his body slip out without any more pushing. They placed his wet purple little body on me and it felt AMAZING. He was beautiful and little, and I wish more than anything that I could feel that feeling again right now. The feeling of that first touch, his skin soft as silk. He was perfectly clean. He was 7 pounds and 12.5 ounces. Exactly two pounds less than my first son. My placenta was birthed shortly after, also without any pushing. It felt like a beautiful release. It felt great to birth the placenta. It was warm and smooth, and I was done.
My midwife told me this was the most blissful birth she’d seen. A woman on my right side was thanking me for letting me witness the birth. She let me know that she is a midwife student and that she was just really grateful that she had been present at my birth. She seemed so lit up, and excited. I thought it was really special that Asher’s birth got to be part of her preparation for midwifery.
Unfortunately, Asher had to be taken away from me to the special care nursery. It turned out that he had taken his first breath before he was born, and aspirated amniotic fluid. My husband spent time with him as my tear, the one that finally let my baby burst into the world, was stitched up. We spent a long week in the hospital before Asher was able to come home. It was one of the hardest weeks of my life. I will always mourn what I lost that first week. But I am so thankful to God that our little baby is now perfectly healthy. And Asher and I are definitely making up for lost time now.
And as my midwife told me, no matter what happens in my life, I’ll now always have Asher’s birth to look back on. And it will remind me, that I can do anything.
“When the waves are taking you under
Hold on just a little bit longer
He knows that this is gonna make you stronger, stronger
The pain ain't gonna last forever
And things can only get better
This is gonna make you stronger”
the gorgeous birthing tub.
our asher michael.