I had planned to UC and at first had felt ecstatic about the prospect. Then I prayed for help to prepare and was stunned to get a "no" answer. I couldn't visualize the birth or feel good about it no matter how much I prepared or prayed, which was a lot. Intuition and guidance from God are critical in UC and mine was telling me "no". I read Rixa Freeze's dissertation on UC and learned about autonomous birth, which is giving birth according to your own intuition rather than having guidance from a birth attendant. I realized that this is what I really wanted. I wanted to have my baby without people around watching and telling me what to do and messing up the naturalness of the flow, so I started preparing for that instead.
I told myself I would birth autonomously no matter what location I found myself in during the actual birth. I would tune out wherever I was and listen only to God and intuition and the baby. When I went into labor, I knew instinctively that I needed to go to the hospital and not stay home, but I was still guided every step of my labor on what to do and when from within. It was so different than my other births. I knew the position of the baby, how to turn him, what positions to use, how fast I was progressing. I could see the baby and the cervix with my inner eye, it was amazing. I knew the perfect time to transfer to the hospital (not too soon, not too late), it all just came in the moment because I was listening for it and prepared for it and not afraid. When I got to the hospital I sat in the waiting room for awhile drinking plenty of water before checking in. I was so calm and unrushed, it unnerved my mother and husband. My 10 year old daughter totally understands autonomous birth and she was thrilled to see it unfolding and loved that I was taking my time.
When I walked into labor and delivery they thought I was a visitor because I was so calm. My hospital does triage, labor, and delivery in one birthing suite, no moving around. This is pure genius and really helped me out. Once in the birthing suite I knew that my dilation had regressed temporarily while I changed locations from home to hospital, but that once I got back in the groove I'd go back to where I had been. They started a 30 minute health history which I ignored in favor of working through contractions and my family answered for me. They put a fetal monitor on which I ignored and a hep lock which I also ignored. I just tuned everything out including those unfortunate hospital protocols. I did hear my husband say something about labor pain and heard my daughter shush him for inappropriate language. She told him pain and hurt were words that had no place at a birth--he needed more positive words. I definitely heard that and loved it! Then a nurse checked my dilation and pronounced me to be 4cm. She informed me and my family that I must lay in bed with the monitor and she would recheck in an hour and if I was 5cm I would be officially admitted for labor and delivery. I cheerfully told her that I would not dilate any further if I laid in the bed and that if she wanted dilation I must be allowed to stand. She consented and gave me a better monitor that was supposed to withstand movement. Then I seized a great opportunity. I suggested that my family go get lunch and come back in an hour. They believed the nurse that they were in for a long haul and happily left. I was thrilled to be all alone in the birthing suite! I thought maybe I'll get to UC after all! That time was precious. I walked and spiraled and sang beautiful songs to my baby in low deep tones and moved instinctively to various positions to facilitate my baby's positioning. I imagined I was birthing in a beautiful forest I knew well from my childhood. I helped myself to water when I needed it (don't tell the nurse). Eventually, as always happens (this is my fifth birth) a nurse came running in to tell me that the monitor was showing the baby was in distress. I assured her the baby was moving just fine and that the monitor was slipping around and not working right. She asked me to please lay down for just 10 minutes. At that point I was actually almost done dilating and really ready to lie down anyway, so it worked out fine. She checked me and said I was 5+cm. My intuition told me that all this centimeter stuff was nonsense and to just keep "feeling" my progress with my inner eye. I knew that everytime they checked my dilation regressed, but as soon as they were done I opened back up. I knew I was almost complete. After the nurse checked me she left again and I was alone again. A few minutes later, my water broke. I wondered if my contractions would feel more intense now, I was exhaling about 9 times per contraction and they were very intense. After a few more contractions I all of a sudden had a contraction that took 18 exhalations. Yikes! I thought. I wonder how many of those there will be? On the next contraction it occurred to me to try a very small push. I had never felt a pushing contraction in my first four births or any sort of urge to bear down or the baby moving downward, I've always just felt a lot pain that I can't interpret. I've always been completely coached and worked without the guidance of instinct. So when I did this little tiny push and felt the baby move and felt the energy of the contraction switch from dilating to pushing I was totally amazed! Yay, only one 18 breath contraction after all! I kept small pushes a few more contractions and then went on to regular ones and then my family returned. The one hour was up. The nurse came back and in a chipper voice announced that I was officially admitted to labor and delivery and that I was now free to move about the room and labor with intermittent monitoring. She also wanted me to sign consent forms for vaccinations (we didn't) and pitocin in case of failure to progress! She said other stuff, I don't really know what. I was focused inward and ignored everything else. So she took the papers to my family and I was on my own again for 15 more minutes. I was still in bed in a side-lying position and this was working perfectly for me. After she got done doing paperwork the nurse returned and said "guess what, your water just broke!" (Poor nurse, she was waaaay behind). She asked if I felt like pushing, I confess I shook my head no to buy more time. I only got a few more contractions though. I could feel the baby move down and then slip back with each contraction, there was a ton of pressure. I realized that I was going to meet my baby soon and was in total disbelief. I felt like I should have ages left to go. I almost wanted to quit pushing because I couldn't believe I'd done it. Pushing was supposed to be impossible for me and this had flowed so naturally. The nurse now realizing that I'd never gotten out of bed and was completely and intensely focused decided to do another check which turned out to be a peek that sent her into a tizzy. She called for the midwife to come. The baby was very close now and I felt the odd sensation of the head pushing on the opening of the birth canal and then slipping back in. At some point someone, nurse or midwife, had the audacity to yell okay now, push! How silly, whoever it was had her timing all wrong it wasn't the right time to push at all! Imagine if I'd sat in bed for the last 45 minutes ignoring my pushing contractions until whoever it was came along to coach. It would have been birth one through four all over again. Ouch! Anyway, I was done. Then the midwife who had just arrived gently said, you're going to have to open your legs to deliver honey. This I realized was true, but I couldn't do it. I had EXTREME pelvic girdle pain with this pregnancy and I couldn't lift my leg alone from a side-lying position. She offered to help and I gladly accepted. I could feel the head crowning. The burning was significantly less than my first four births as I expected it would be in an autonomous birth. The head came out easily and then the shoulders stuck tight. I don't know why. The contraction ended, the momentum ended, and no birth yet. The midwife went into action mode. You've got to push the baby out, push, push, push! This wasn't coaching, it was emergency. I've studied a lot and I know perfectly well that stuck shoulders is not good. I pushed like I've never pushed before with no contraction and nothing happened. The midwife said authoritatively, "I have to roll you onto your back." I knew to trust her. With my pelvic girdle pain there was no other position I could possibly do. It seemed like the nurse gently pulled while I pushed and then pop, the baby was out. My mother said it didn't look like gently pulling at all to her, but rather quite vigorous pulling. Either way, my baby was born safely and I knew WHY I wasn't given the go ahead to do a solo UC. It had felt like only seconds that my baby was stuck, but the midwife said it had been two minutes and the baby hadn't taken a breath. When the baby did come out, I turned to look at him and expected them to put him on my tummy. Instead I saw that the cord was already cut and they were taking him away! I was aghast. The midwife looked at me and apologized. It had been a mistake, with the stress of getting the baby out, they had assumed he would need to be revived. They were wrong. As soon as the shoulders were out, he gave a lusty cry, the midwife unlooped the cord which was loosely around the neck and he was fine. They gave him perfect apgar scores of 9/9. They just kept saying over and over "9/9! we never give 9/9." The nurses started the newborn exam right away and I resigned myself to it because my daughter was leaning over him and glowing and I could still see his face. It was sweet. He weighed 8 lbs 15 oz. I pushed the placenta out immediately, I've found that even if I don't feel a "contraction" a good push usually delivers the placenta right away and makes hospital people happy.
The midwife or nurse said it appeared that I had had a painless labor except for when I had to open my legs for the delivery. I told her, "I did have a painless labor except that part." Of course thats not true. The contractions with this birth were quite intense much more than some of my other labors, but I just don't call the sensation of a contraction pain no matter how intense. I heard the nurse and midwife talking among themselves, apparently the nurse felt a little bad about not realizing the pace of the labor and the midwife was telling her that sometimes births are just precipitous. My family had all brought books and ipods and stuff and were amazed that they hadn't even had time to get them out. It was fast because I did it on my own. It wasn't precipitous, it was 9 hours and 48 minutes. It was an amazing experience. Hospitals always do stuff to you that is unhelpful like think your baby is in distress when its not, or inserting bad hep locks, or cutting the cord too soon and telling you not to push when you should, but I've found being positive and prepared gives you the best chances for getting your own way or accepting what cannot be. The after care was great. They made a terrible bloody mess disappear quickly, provided a special gluten free meal (so nice when other people make me gluten free stuff), did all the worrying and checking about the baby's health and my bleeding so I could just nurse and cuddle baby.