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This is pretty long - over 4 pages in MS Word!

My whole pregnancy was a breeze physically, but very difficult emotionally. I never had morning sickness, but I did have a UTI early on and a bad cold at about 34 weeks. However, my brother passed away very unexpectedly (at the age of 28), my husband's cat became very ill and had to be euthanized (less than a month after my brother died), and my husband was laid off from his job (two months before I was due). The job that provided our medical insurance! Thankfully, the generous severance package included insurance through the month of May (I was due April 27).

I knew from the get-go that I wanted an unmedicated, natural delivery. My mom gave birth to all three of her children at home (on purpose - I always have to specify that), and my mother-in-law used the Bradley Method to have her last two (of three) without medication - and that was in the late 60s/early 70s! My husband's cousin had great success with Hypnobirthing, so I started a "home-study course" based on the book and CDs, since the nearest instructor was over 2 ½ hours away. However, due to the emotional upheaval of the last two months of my pregnancy, I found it very hard to practice on a regular basis. I would get very upset and cry when thinking about our baby's delivery, because I didn't know how we'd manage financially without my husband's income. I was planning on staying at home with our baby after the birth, and wasn't sure if I would be able to. Thankfully, my husband found a job and started in early April. What a relief!

At my last pre-natal appointment (on my due date), I was 3cm dilated and 50% effaced. My OB did a membrane sweep and said that he expected to see me in the hospital when he was on-call three days later. The next day was my last day at work. I started to feel … something around 9:30AM, but I wasn't sure if it was contractions, because it certainly didn't feel like menstrual cramps, and that's how everyone described contractions to me. It felt more like the baby's head was pushing down on my cervix and on the back of my bladder. My coworker (who has a two-year-old) said that she was pretty sure they were contractions, and that I should expect to deliver soon. The contractions went on all day long, but I wasn't really able to pay attention to them, because I was trying to get as much work done as I could before leaving.

We went to my in-laws' house for dinner that night. By the time we got there, I had figured out that I had been contracting all day long, and that this might really be IT! My mother-in-law was overjoyed to hear this, as she had never had to wait a full forty weeks for any of her children OR her grandchildren, and was very anxious to meet this little one. We started timing my contractions around 7:00, during dinner. After we ate, my mother-in-law turned down the temperature on the hot tub to a safe 99° F so I could enjoy the warmth of the tub. That was blissful! I spent about 90 minutes in the tub and loved every minute of it. Then, I went upstairs and showered and got dressed again. By about 10:30, it became obvious that I wasn't going to head to the hospital from their house. My contractions had gone from 10 minutes apart and lasting 30 seconds down to 3-4 minutes apart, but they were only 10 or 15 seconds long. So, hubby and I headed home.

We had a few things to take care of around the house before bed, like making doubly sure that my bag was packed and printing up my birth plan. I couldn't get the on-line form to work - I had to fill it out three times before I could get the darned thing to print. We finally went to bed after midnight. By then, the contractions were strong enough that I couldn't sleep through them, but I didn't say anything to my husband. (They never did feel like menstrual cramps. It felt like something was pressing down on my cervix, and then up my abdominal muscles while spreading out to the sides.) I lay in bed and breathed through the contractions and tried to relax as much as I could - I knew that I wasn't going to be sleeping for a while! Around 1:00 AM, I started timing my contractions, just by watching the bedside clock. For an hour, they came 4-5 minutes apart and lasted about a minute. I got out of bed around 2:00 AM and called my OB's office. I got online to pass the time. I didn't hear back from them after more than 30 minutes, so I tried again. Apparently, they had tried to call me at my work number. No wonder they didn't reach me! The OB on call said that I should go ahead and go to the hospital, at least for an evaluation. I sent an email to all of my friends and family, and woke up my husband - right on the dot of 3:00 AM. We slowly gathered our wits and our things, and made our way to the hospital.

Upon our arrival (4:17 AM, according to my bracelet), I changed into the lovely hospital gown and answered the 174 questions they have to ask. The nurse checked me, and I was a good 6 cm dilated, so I was definitely staying! One of the questions they asked was whether or not I had a birth plan. Hubby got it out of the bag and handed it to the nurse. My husband took the phone list and the cell phone out into the hallway and started calling our immediate family.

This hospital has more than 30 very nice LDRP rooms that are all private. We never had to change rooms, and there was never a chance that we would have a roommate. We had been in our room less than 30 minutes when his parents arrived. Mine followed shortly after. (My parents are divorced, but they got there within minutes of each other.) After the heparin lock had been placed in my arm and I had been attached to the fetal monitor long enough, I got out of bed and changed into my own clothes. (The baby's heart rate wasn't changing during contractions, so they had me lay on my left side to try to get a reaction.) Then, we went for a walk around the maternity ward. We stopped at the "snack room" for some water and ice chips and then returned to my room.

I lay down on my left side (as I was told to) with all the lights out and a nice relaxing tape playing. I honestly don't remember much of the passing time - I was focusing on being relaxed and quiet. I answered questions as needed and made my desires known, but I focused on breathing and remaining quiet. I stayed in control of my reaction to my contractions. I'm not saying that they didn't hurt or that I didn't feel the pain. I just kept myself focused, relaxed, and quiet as opposed to making noise and tensing up. In my opinion, that's why I was able to have the birth experience I wanted.

However, I do remember one funny thing.

My dad was really tired, so he stretched out on the bed/couch provided for family members and promptly fell asleep. Just as promptly, he began snoring. (He snores REALLY loud!) I pointed to that side of the room and said, "That has GOT to stop," so my mother-in-law woke him up. I mentioned that there was a bed in the family waiting room, and that we wouldn't let him miss anything. So, he apologized and left the room.

As the time passed, my mom and husband came and brought me ice chips and cold washcloths and rubbed my back or arm as asked (and stopped when asked). During transition, I was super-hot and sweaty and nauseated. The air conditioning was turned down as low as it would go - it was like 65 degrees Fahrenheit in the room. My mother-in-law was wearing her jacket and almost asked for my robe to go on top of it! When all that started to happen, the nurse (Joanie) checked me and I was at 8cm - squarely in transition (this was one of four pelvic exams through my entire labor). My mom and husband kept the cool washcloths coming for my head and neck, and I was OK. They brought me an emesis basin, but I didn't need it.

At about 8:00AM, the feeling of my contractions had changed, so Joanie checked me again, and I was fully dilated. My husband left the room to go get my dad. The nurse asked if I felt any urge to push, and since I didn't, she said I didn't have to. However, I did have to pee. She asked if I was sure that it was an urge to pee and not poop. I assured her that I knew the difference. Then, she let me get out of bed and go to the bathroom. I had long abandoned my shorts and underwear, so we carefully wrapped a sheet around my belly (like a towel) for modesty's sake.

Sitting on that toilet HURT, but I had to go, so I went. When I came out of the bathroom, a contraction hit, and my husband was standing right there next to the door. I flung my arms around his neck, put my head on his shoulder and started rocking my hips back and forth. I had him put his hands on my hips and squeeze them together a bit, which was a great momentary relief. We "danced" for a while, and then I had to pee again! Upon emerging from the bathroom for a second time, my mom was the closest person, so I "danced" with her for a while, too. (The video and photos of this time are fantastic - very moving.)

Joanie asked if I was getting any urges to push, and since I wasn't, said she wanted to check me again. I moved towards the bed, and she said she could check me standing up. I put my feet about shoulder-width apart and squatted. My mom stood behind me for support. Baby only had a couple of inches left to go, so I got back in bed. This was right at 8:30. The cell phones came out again, and our extended family and friends were called. My husband stood on my left, and Mom was on my right. My mother-in-law was behind the head of the bed with her camera (she took like 250 pictures during the whole labor and delivery), and my father-in-law was behind my mom with the video camera (he took two hours of video - most of it's me pushing). My dad was behind the nurse/doctor's stool, just watching.

I don't remember much of the details of pushing, other than counting to myself (per my birth plan) and using the stirrups because my husband and my mom aren't the same height. It was a lot easier for me to rest my legs in the stirrups and then have mom and hubby push back on my feet during pushes. I did have the mirror, which was great. Seeing baby's head really gave me the incentive to push harder and longer. I did my best to keep the rest of my body relaxed while pushing and did not cry out at all. I think this was very important - although the contractions hurt and the pushing hurt, I remained in control of myself and just kept breathing and saying, "It will stop hurting when the baby is born," in my head.

At about 9:45, the doctor (not my regular OB, but one of the ladies from the practice) broke my water. I didn't realize it hadn't broken - fluid had been leaking with each push. (Early on, I had asked if that was amniotic fluid that I was feeling with each push to make sure I wasn't peeing on myself.) The last 15 minutes were really intense. When baby's head was crowning it hurt so bad! Talk about the ring of fire - they're not kidding. The doctor said, "I know it hurts but you have to push through the pain - push through it and it'll be over a lot faster." After that push, I made the only comment about pain for my entire labor and delivery - "OK, that one hurt." Everyone laughed! When the head was fully delivered, I opened my eyes, and watched the doctor pull the cord from around the baby's neck. Apparently, she wasn't happy with baby's appearance, as I was not told to rest and blow after that - she told me to keep pushing: "Harder harder harder, now now now - get this baby out!" So, I did, even though I wasn't having a contraction.

Baby didn't make any sounds at birth, but was quickly put up on my chest, where my husband peeked and made the announcement - "It's a boy!" (We hadn't found out the baby's gender.) He cut the cord, and they whisked our son over to the incubator. Baby wasn't doing well - purple, floppy, and unresponsive. (His one-minute Apgar was 4.) They massaged him vigorously and put an oxygen bag over his face to help him out. After his Vitamin K shot, he perked up significantly. He was back in my arms within 15 minutes. During all of that, I delivered the placenta (it was really kind of cool-looking) and received my only anesthesia - a tiny bit of local for my one stitch. The really weird part was when the OB checked to make sure that the entire placenta had delivered - by reaching her hand up INTO my uterus! I looked at her and said, "Well, that's ONE handshake I'm never going to forget." Then, we had to decide what to name him! We both agreed like he looked like a Spencer.

After the delivery, I was having some hemorrhaging, so they hooked me up to a bag of fluids and put a little Pitocin in it to help my uterus contract back down. I ended up losing about 400 cc of blood (less than a pint). The nurses never seemed outwardly concerned about it, and that was really helpful. I was able to stay calm and focus on getting Spencer to nurse for the first time, and watched them give him a bath and all that. We were able to have lots of skin-to-skin contact that first afternoon together.

His official time of birth was 10:01 AM on Saturday, April 29, 2006. He weighed 7lb 12 ounces and was 20 ½ inches long. My regular OB was in the hospital the next day, and came in to check on us. He had heard all about my amazingly silent labor and delivery from the delivering OB. By the way - this was the first unmedicated labor that our nurse had seen. She was super-sweet and really supportive the whole time. Honestly, she didn't have to do much, but said she enjoyed watching my labor and delivery. Plus, she requested to be assigned to us again that day. How sweet is that?

We had lots of visitors over the next couple of days (at least a dozen), and were discharged on Monday, May 1 - which just happens to be my birthday! All along, I had said that I wanted to be home with my baby on my birthday, and I got my wish.

Over all, I am extremely happy with my birth experience. I am glad that I was in a hospital for my delivery, simply because of Spencer's poor condition and my post-partum blood loss. The hospital staff was really great about honoring my birth plan and following it as closely as possible. No one asked me about my pain scale, no one ever offered drugs, no one tried to tell me how to push - until the very end, that is. Then, they were more encouraging than anything, telling me when I was doing it "right" and getting the baby to come down well. The lights were mostly off, and I had my own music playing. They only checked my cervix four times - not every hour. I certainly won't hesitate to go back for subsequent deliveries, especially after they finish the multi-million dollar expansion and renovation that will add birthing tubs to most of the rooms!

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Congratulations! That's a wonderful story. I will be birthing my first in a hospital this October and it's great to hear stories of great hospital experiences with natural childbirth!

Enjoy your baby!

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congrats on new baby.

dd was born- with a cord also. She had a 1 minute apgar of 1- and a 8 by 5 minutes!!! We nursed her and rubbed her a bit and she got with it! You can check out the pics from the link at my signature line.

I am glad you feel good about your experience!

Welcome Spencer!

And welcome to Mothering mama!

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Dear Mama,

I too had a similar birth with my first two children, a girl and then a boy.
I was able to get up and use the bathroom a lot
: which increased that
contraction ring that circumferenced my whole lower ab and back. I felt myself sinking into the potty telling myself "I can take this!

Isn't it nice to be able to be attended by encourageing staff and a soothing room with quietness and peace?
When my daughter was lifted up for me to see I said "She is the most beautiful baby I have ever seen!

I am happy for you. Glad you had the extra care you needed for babe and
yourself...happy birth and wonderful family ~ spirit dove

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Thanks for sharing your birth story with us! I'm so glad that you got the experience that you were hoping for. Just so you know, midwifes bring all the gear they need for starting babies and for stopping bleeding! They are very good at it too!

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Congratulations, you have done wonderfully, I am impressed! I am glad Spencer's condition improved fast and you got to be close to him shortly after birth.

Wonderful story!


PS: also, your blood loss sounds pretty normal, not worrisome
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