July 19th 7:33 a.m.
8 pounds 3 ounces, 19.5 inches
born at 41 weeks gestation
(Congratulations to everyone I've missed the past 2 weeks!!!)
I went into labor at 6:30 p.m. the previous night while at a restaurant. Contractions were about 7 minutes apart and easily manageable pain-wise. I ate a huge meal. Bad idea in hindsight. My water broke at 11:00 p.m. and the contractions got more intense at that point. They got closer together, about 5 minutes apart. I hadn't felt the baby move since my water broke, so I started getting nervous. I also wanted to get to my final birth destination so I could get comfortable with my surroundings. We were admitted to the hospital at 1:30 a.m. We beat the midwife to the hospital. I hated being on the monitors for the first 20 minutes. The belt wasn't registering my contractions and the baby wasn't moving, so they made me stay on even longer. I was nauseous and vomited up my huge dinner. When the midwife arrived, I told her I was going to die if they made me stay lying on my back with those belts any longer. She was flexible and let me sit on my ball and used a hand held doppler while watching my contractions. She also checked me. I was only 3-4 cm dilated. I was totally pissed that I had already been in labor for 7 hours and had no progress from the previous week's check up. I started to question why I wanted a hospital birth. I wanted to be at home where people weren't poking me. I wished I hadn't made the rookie mistake of coming to the hospital so early.
I got in the shower. The midwife didn't want me getting into the tub when I wasn't very far along. I vomited a lot again. But after a while, the shower wasn't cutting it. I begged her to let me in the tub. She agreed. The tub helped as long as I laid on my side, not my back. My body hated the back-lying position. I was exhausted at that point. However, outward signs showed little increase in progress. My contractions were quite irregular: either seemingly on top of each other or as long as 5 minutes apart. I was also dealing with the pain quite well. I used low, rhythmic moaning sounds. No tense, high-pitched screaming. I used controlled, deep breathing. No hyperventilating. I don't think anyone thought I was having this baby any time soon.
I started dozing off between contractions when they were farther apart. My head would slip under the water since I was on my side and I would wake up inhaling water. My poor husband had to hold my head above water for hours while I was in the tub contracting and dozing!
I decided that the tub wasn't cutting it anymore. The doula suggested walking between contractions and slow-dancing during contractions. Again, I don't think anyone thought I was very far along and wanted to speed things up. I agreed. Walking between contractions was nice. But I got exhausted quickly. My body hates losing sleep, so I decided to get into a side-lying position in bed. I knew that upright positions would help labor get more intense, but I just couldn't do it.
When I was back in bed, apparently my husband asked the midwife to check me. She refused thinking I wasn't very far along and didn't think it would help to check. My contractions were still irregular and seemingly not very intense to the outsider. The whole time, though, I was thinking about giving up. I thought about the epidural. I thought about asking for a C-section. I wondered why I ever wanted a natural birth. I thought the idea of a natural birth was stupid. Why did I think that I could handle that level of pain? I must've been delusional when preparing for this birth. But my husband and doula spoke encouraging words through each contraction. Normally, I would've thought this was dumb. But their motivation really put me at ease. They told me I was doing such a great job. I started to believe them. I think they were silent for a contraction or two and I actually missed their praise.
After a while in bed, the midwife did another check. 8 cm! All without my contractions ever really getting regular. I knew what was ahead though: transition. I knew it would get more intense and I knew I wouldn't be able to doze off in between contractions because they'd be so intense. But I also knew it would be the shortest part of labor. But apparently, my body doesn't play by the stages of labor rules! After 8 cm, my contractions didn't really speed up, and only got slightly more intense. From the outside, they didn't seem intense at all, because I was totally in the zone with my pain management.
At about 7:00 a.m. or so, my upper leg in the side-lying position started to involuntarily "spasm." I had the urge to push! Wow! I asked for the midwife. I told her that I was having the urge to push, but I would not feel comfortable pushing without knowing whether or not I was complete. She said she understood exactly what I meant. It was such a relief that we communicated that. I was getting nervous about having to push the baby out, so having someone understand what I was going through helped so much. She checked. Complete! But with a small lip. However, she thought the lip was small enough that I could push through it.
I got on my hands and knees. The back of the bed was raised so I could drape my upper body over it. I pushed when I got the urge. However, I was pretty ineffective at pushing at first. The lip was gone after a few minutes. Then I started to get the hang of pushing. I'm so glad I practiced the chain breathing and positioning of my chin at my chest. That really made pushing go. Instead of letting the baby slip back after each push, I was able to make a lot of progress. The midwife even told me to slow down and only push with contractions. I didn't realize how fast I was trying to go! I was just in the zone and wanted my baby out! The ring of fire wasn't bad for me, actually. I think being on my knees helped that. The midwife called out, "We need a baby nurse in here!" The room started to buzz with activity, though I couldn't see any of it with my head mashed into the bed. I few more pushes (a total blur) and my baby was out. Only about 30 minutes of pushing total. No tearing. I had to climb over the cord and my beautiful baby was handed to me. She was born calm and alert. I am so lucky to have her.
I am grateful for my husband who made sure I didn't drown, let me squeeze his fingers for hours, spoke encouraging words, interpreted my cavewoman-speak to the rest of the birth team, and never left my side.
I am grateful for my doula, who brought me water, made my face cold, covered me or uncovered me, suggested positions, and though I had never met her before, made me feel at ease when I was scared.
I am grateful for my Bradley teacher for giving me all the tools I needed to have a natural childbirth.
I am grateful for the midwife for her amazing balance of medical knowledge and experience with natural childbirth.
And I'm grateful that I had a beautiful and healthy baby that makes me happy every day!