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Since the day I found out I was pregnant I knew one thing for certain, I wanted this birth experience to be different. My daughter is such a blessing in my life, but her birth was far from what I expected. After a very long labor with just about every medical intervention you can imagine (short of a c-section) I was left feeling bruised and beaten. This time was going to be different. This birth was going to be ours - not my OB's.

So I took the first steps by choosing a family practitioner with a more natural, family-centered approach to birthing. I immediately felt more comfortable in the first visit with him than I ever had with my previous OB. He listened to me, answered my questions, and had a calmness about him that eased my fears. As the months of my pregnancy progressed, I became more certain that I had made the right choice.

I had an ultrasound performed around the 22nd week of my pregnancy. I was measuring a bit large and it turned out I had a fibroid in my uterus. Nothing to worry about, my doctor assured me, just good to know about and watch. He also told us that we were expecting another little girl. We were so excited to know that we would have two little girls - sisters! My "due date" was August 11. Just 10 days before my daughters 2nd birthday.

On August 10th I woke up in the middle of the night to fairly strong contractions. These were different than the Braxton Hicks I had been feeling for weeks and they were coming pretty regularly. After about an hour, I woke my husband and told him I though we were on our way. He quickly called the grandparents and prepared then to be ready to come get our daughter as we would most likely be leaving for the hospital soon.

After a few hours, I fell asleep and woke up in the morning with no more contractions - and no baby. This starting and stopping went on for the next 5 days. I became physically and emotionally drained and was worried that when real labor did begin, I would be too tired to get through it without interventions. I called my Doctor for advice. He offered the possibility of getting things moving with Prostaglandin gel. He knew how much I wanted a natural birth, and was very aware of my fear that an induction of any kind would make that impossible. He assured me that the Prostaglandin was a very gentle way to go, and that if my body truly was not ready, it would most likely have no effect at all. After another sleepless night filled with stops and starts, I called in the morning and agreed to have the gel. I had some fears about what this might mean for my hopes of a different kind of birth, but I trusted my Doctor, and I was simply worn out.

At the hospital my Doctor examined me and told me that I was only about 1-2 cm and most likely would not be having my baby today, gel or no gel. He told me not to get my hopes up too much because I would probably be going back home. Little did he know that my body had other plans. Within 30 minutes of administering the Prostaglandin, my contractions began coming every 3-5 minutes and growing in intensity. This was it - real labor had begun.

So here I was in the hospital (not where I wanted to labor) and my labor had been started artificially (not what I had hoped for). But I was determined not to let go of this birth. I could still make it our own. My first course of action was to take off the hospital gown and put my own nightgown on. This helped me get out of the "patient" mindset. Then I had my husband cover the clock with towel. I did not want to get in the trap of counting the minutes and hours as they went by. I took off the monitor and agreed to use it only for 5-10 minutes every few hours. I had my husband call my doula for extra support. Then, most importantly, I banished the bed. I looked at the bed as my enemy. If I lay down, I felt I would lose everything I had wanted so badly. We walked, and walked, and walked some more. I sat on a birthing ball. I got in the shower. Anything to stay out of that bed.

After about 3 hours of harder, but still bearable contractions, I got in the labor tub. It felt wonderful! I stayed in for about 30 or 45 minutes and felt great. I felt so powerful and so ready - I could do this! I was doing this! Walking back to my room after getting out of the tub, the contractions began to hit hard. I was entering a different stage, and I could feel my body working overtime. I got back to the room and sat on the birth ball with my top half leaning onto the bed. My husband sat behind me in a chair and held me. With each contraction I pushed back into his body and held his hands tightly. As I moaned through the pain, I felt that we truly were one person going through this birth together. He was my literally my support, physically and emotionally. Even through the pain, I felt more connected to him at that time than I had ever experienced before.

After about 5 hours of labor, a nurse came in to examine me and told me I was about 5 cm. What? Only 5cm? I was working so hard, I thought I would be so much further along. I started to doubt myself and my body. Maybe I couldn't do this after all. Maybe I should just get the epidural, lay down and be done with it. My husband and my doula both immediately recognized my change in attitude and went to work to bring me back to focus. We used visualization to work through the contractions. I was lying in a field in the sun, with a slight cool breeze flowing over me. It was a perfect spring day. As each contraction began, I breathed in the fresh air and felt the breeze drift over me and relax my entire body. I was back - and I knew I could do this with their help.

Another hour or so into labor I was exhausted and could no longer stand or move very much. The pain was incredibly intense, and I finally gave myself over to the bed. I lay down on my side and my husband rubbed my back and held me as I worked through the contractions that were coming fast and hard. I held onto him like he was my lifeline. It was as if I could not get close enough to him. I needed him so much. I was again doubting my ability to make it through this drug-free. After all, my first labor was 18 hours and I was only 6 hours into this one. I could not do this for another 12 hours. It was just too much. The nurse came in and examined me to find that I was 8 cm. Unbelievable! I would be pushing my baby out soon. But I had no idea how soon.

With the next few contractions my body took over and I could feel my muscles starting to push. The nurses told me I had to wait - I still had a little bit to go before I was ready to push. But my body did not hear them - it was ready. My doctor came in and very calmly surveyed the room, got his supplies together, and sat down. I yelled at him, and everyone else in the room, "I don't care if you are not ready - I am and I am pushing now!!"

When I began to push something amazing happened to me. It was the closest I had ever come to an out-of-body experience. I pictured myself as a powerful lion, and I actually began to roar and yell as I felt my baby moving through my body. Pushing was both torture and ecstasy at the same time. I felt every part of my baby's body as it moved through me and out into he world.

As my baby was born, the first words I heard were from my husband. "It's a boy!" he shouted. What? A Boy? For a split second I thought he was playing a trick on me, but I knew he would not do something like that at this time. I began to shout "It's a boy! It's a boy" over and over. Everyone in the room began to laugh and cheer. My doctor, with a wide grin on his face, said only "oops!"

Benjamin Wallace Goeller was born on August 15, 2003 at 8:28 pm. He was 7 lbs. 10 ounces and 19 inches. He is beautiful and perfect in every way. And the greatest surprise of my life.

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Well, you just gave me my morning cry.
Oh, how I love to cry at birth stories. That was/is/will always be BEAUTIFUL Laura! What a beautiful experience you shared with your husband. I too remember needing mine - Jeff would press against me so I could feel how I was suppose to breathe. He kept me from going 'away' to a darker place within me when the pain became intolerable. He made so much of everything tolerable.

And yes, I love your explanation of the final DRIVE to push. How your body writhes and contracts to bring that child into the world. I felt all of Kenny - and yes, painful but exhilarating. The ultimate rush.

Thank you! Thank you for sharing your birth story. Thank you for reminding me of mine.

This has got to be the best forum here at MDC. The point where all our blessings emerge in physical form.
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