Thursday
March 29, 2012

Natural Birth Story


My husband and I moved to a new city when we were 7 weeks pregnant and decided to make an appointment with a local ob group very close to our house. They were very efficient – in and out in 15 minutes. For a pap smear, that’s awesome. For first time parents, it was incredibly frustrating. After an especially disappointing appointment where I was told not to participate in a 3 day 60 mile walk for Susan G. Komen (which I did participate in and walked 54 miles in 3 days!) we decided to switch to a Nurse Mid-Wife practice about 30 minutes from our home. This practice is hospital based, which was great for my husband’s security, but supported natural birth. We immediately started in a Centering Group – meeting with a midwife and other parents due the same month we were for 2 hours every 2 weeks. It was an incredible experience that really prepared us for the arrival of our child. We also prepared by taking DVD Bradley Method classes, reading lots of books, and practicing our relaxation techniques.

Our little one (we decided to be surprised by the sex!) was due on January 4th. We knew that baby would more than likely be late, but when that day came and went, my husband and I got very depressed. We were so ready to meet our baby and spent the days following our due date moping around. After a few days we had an attitude adjustment and got excited again – each day that passed meant a day closer to meeting our child! I’d been having contractions, sometimes regular and consistent, for weeks. We were prepared for baby from the day after Christmas. Waiting was very difficult!

We had our 41 week appointment on Tuesday, January 10th at 1:30pm. We were officially 40w6d. While we are encouraged to meet all of the midwives in our practice, our appointment was randomly scheduled with the midwife who teaches our centering class – we see her for 2 hours every other week. It turned out to be such a blessing! She couldn’t believe we were still pregnant and said if I was ready, she’d sweep my membranes. Done and done!

This was my very first internal exam. I know it’s standard practice with OBs, but our midwives will only check if we say that’s what we want. I’ve not wanted until today. On this day I wanted to know if this baby even knows it’s time! Was I dilated at all? Is baby ready? Yes and no. I was about 4 centimeters dilated and about 70% effaced. Our midwife was somewhat concerned with how high the baby still is, considering I’m already 4 centimeters. This could mean nothing and baby will drop into place and I could labor no problem…or it could mean that baby won’t drop and we have other issues. She swept my membranes (not pleasant, but not awful), scheduled an ultrasound for the morning, and said she’d like to break our water. We’re not opposed to that if baby needs to come quickly. The ultrasound will determine how baby is doing, if the placenta is still healthy, and what the fluid levels are – we would make a decision after that.

After the appointment I was definitely uncomfortable. Nothing unmanageable, just lots of pressure and cramping. We’d really rather not have another ultrasound and definitely don’t want to have my water broken, but if that’s what we need to do for the baby, that’s what we’ll do. I went home that afternoon to rest. My husband and I got dinner on Tuesday night and watched some TV. We went to bed around 11pm praying baby would arrive before our scheduled ultrasound.
After about 2 hours of sleeping, I woke up to go to the bathroom. It was about 1am. I had cramps, but nothing awful. I got back in bed and assured my husband that I was fine. I snuggled down with my body pillow and went back to sleep…

Except that I didn’t. The cramps were really bad and I couldn’t get comfortable. They’d get really bad and then I’d have some relief. They’d get bad again, and I’d have some relief. I got up to get in the bath in hopes that would help. I told my husband what was going on and started running the bath. Immediately I knew something was different. I was in intense pain and was shaking. I waited until the bath was full before going in and waking up my husband. My entire body was shaking. I assured him I was okay, but that it was time to get up and maybe get moving. I got in the bath and he timed contractions. They were about one minute long and 3-4 minutes apart. The bath wasn’t making the pain much better. My husband packed up a few last minute things and doted on me. He desperately wanted to make things better and I had no idea what to tell him.

After a little while I decided to get out of the tub and go into the family room to watch some TV. My husband wanted to time contractions for a little while before calling my sister, who I wanted there for labor and the birth, or the midwives. He continued timing and I tried to relax. Contractions were getting very intense and I wasn’t able to hold still through them. I also wasn’t able to move – walking to the bathroom was getting incredibly painful because the cramps would be consistent as I was moving. At no point did I really think I was in labor – my mind was completely numb and consumed with the pain. Around 2:45am I called my sister to let her know it was time. She should start the drive from Oklahoma City if she wanted to be there for the labor and the birth. At the same time my husband called the midwives to let them know my contractions were about 3 minutes apart and about a minute long.

By 3:45am it was time to go to the hospital. I wasn’t handling the pain well at all and knew it was time to get to the hospital. But first, because it was officially Wednesday, it was time to take my 41 week picture!

I think it’s pretty obvious how miserable I am. While I’m smiling, you can tell that I’m in absolute awful pain. We took this picture, packed the camera, and headed to the hospital. The drive was about 30 minutes and my husband set the cruise control as to not speed too much – definitely didn’t want to get pulled over on the way there! I leaned the seat back slightly and had the window rolled down, even though it was very cold. I didn’t want to admit it at the time, but I was desperately nauseated. The cold air on my face was all I could do to keep it together.

We arrived at the hospital, parked, and walked in what we thought was the right door…wrong. Thankfully, there was a security cop in his car right outside where we were. We hopped in and he called for a wheel chair. I always thought I’d walk myself into the hospital, but my walking days were long over. I got out of the car and into the wheel chair as quickly as I could, but it still took me some time to breathe through contractions. The security guard with the wheel chair was incredible and very patient with me. She wheeled me right to labor and delivery while my husband followed with our bags. We got there and the person checking us in didn’t really understand what was going on with us – were we here to be checked? Seriously – I had 2 contractions in the 5 minutes while I was sitting there, was unable to answer questions, and couldn’t sign my own name. I might be in labor…

We got to a room very quickly, probably by 4:45am and the nurse took my vitals and got me set with a heart monitor on the baby. The nurse was absolutely incredible – she confirmed that I didn’t want an IV and never mentioned anything about pain medication or anything else. She made the heart monitor as pleasant as can be and understood that laying flat in bed wasn’t what I wanted to do. She promised it would be quick and I could move as soon as it was over. I was starting to get really worried because the pain was so intense and incredibly overwhelming. I didn’t think I could do it. My husband was an incredible champ and took great care of me. I now know how scared he was but at the time he seemed so calm and in control. Our midwife arrived and checked me at some point – 7 centimeters. I don’t remember that even registering in my mind. It was all happening much faster than I ever anticipated. Before long, I was ready to get in the tub. As I stood up, my mucus plug was on the bed. How I didn’t lose it before now, I had no idea. Just as soon as I got to the bathroom, I threw up. I was terrified of vomiting during labor but at the time, I was so nauseated it felt great to take control of something. I got in the tub and hoped that things would slow down a little so that I could relax and breathe.

That didn’t happen. Labor continued to speed up. Contractions were coming right after another and were very intense. I was getting cramps in my legs and while I was trying very hard to relax, it was so hard. The pain was excruciating. Our awesome nurse, my husband and our midwife were incredibly supportive – they told me I was doing it, they were proud of me, and to take it one contraction at a time. I screamed that I couldn’t do it, knowing that I had absolutely no choice. Somewhere deep in my mind I knew it was too late for any pain relief. Before long I started to push through the contractions. I didn’t mean to, my body just took over. Our midwife told me it was fine but that she was going to check me again. I didn’t want her to because I knew it was going to hurt. I was in a strange place – I just wanted a break, to take a little nap. I could continue doing it if I could just have 5 minutes of peace. During one contraction she checked me – 10 centimeters and baby’s head was +2. I got confused and thought +2 was -2 – Baby is still too high! No, they assured me – baby was ready to go!

I didn’t feel like seriously pushing in the tub. I don’t know why – I just didn’t feel ready. I think that confused everyone in the room. I wanted to breathe through the contractions and not push yet. Eventually I wanted to move back to the bed. It was about 6am or so when I walked from the tub to the bed – our midwife commented that she was amazed that I could walk around at 10 centimeters. Once I got to the bed, I was breathing through contractions and got serious about pushing – and my water broke! It was like a water balloon bursting under me. That really gave me the urge to push! I got serious.

Unfortunately, my sister missed all of this. We’d planned for her to be in the room for the birth and I prayed she would make it in time. I was vaguely aware of my husband talking to her on the phone – her GPS took her to some random neighborhood. We had planned to listen to the labor mix of music I’d prepared, we’d practice relaxation techniques, unfortunately there just wasn’t time. My husband also made sure his family was in the waiting room – I have no idea when they arrived. Once my water broke the urge to push was incredible. I tried a few different positions and everyone was incredibly encouraging. The space between contractions got very uncomfortable and I just wanted to continue pushing. Everyone said they could see baby’s hair – baby was right there! At 7am my sister arrived just in time to see our baby’s little head getting ready. I continued pushing. Our midwife coached me to relax the rest of my body and concentrate all my energy pushing. She was massaging with mineral oil, which while necessary, was very uncomfortable. The head wasn’t coming moving down.

Our midwife looked right at me between contractions and told me that I had two more contractions to push as hard as I could. If baby wasn’t here, she’d need to make a very small cut because his head was stuck. I knew that cutting was not something our midwifes did unless it was necessary. I understood how serious this was. Through the next two contractions I pushed with all my might. The nurses, midwife,my sister, and husband were so inspirational. They told me I was doing it – but I knew I couldn’t do it without each of them. After two contractions his head was still stuck. Not budging. She needed to cut.

I asked if she would numb me – she laughed and said of course! At this point I was able to relax slightly through the contractions because they were coming slightly farther apart. She prepared me and once she was ready I pushed with everything I had…And the room gasped! I was so worried for about a split second. Water splashed everywhere and suddenly they were holding this wiggly little baby! He was screaming and it was the most beautiful sound I’ve ever heard. My husband announced that we had ourselves a little boy, something he’d waited nearly 10 months to announce! Our little man was born at 7:27am – just 6 hours after I woke up with cramps.

They placed the baby on my chest. The nurse listened to his heart and cleaned him up while he was on my chest. I don’t know how long it was, but it was glorious.My husband and sister were right there also. At some point my husband ran out to the waiting room. One thing he couldn’t wait to do was announce to his family whether baby was a boy or a girl.

Eventually it was time to cut the cord – we delayed until the placenta stopped pulsing. My husband was a champ and loved being part of that. They took the baby to clean him, weigh him, and take more vitals.My sister and husband went with him to the other side of our room while our midwife stitched me up. She and I chatted and she apologized again for the cut. I knew that it was what needed to happen and felt like she definitely did the right thing. Unfortunately, I also tore and while nothing was terribly deep, I was in rough shape. She delivered the placenta and got to work. I think she sewed for about 30 minutes or so. It wasn’t pleasant, but I adore our midwife, so it wasn’t awful either. It was nice to know that my sister and husband were with the baby – I was calm about how he was doing because I could see them the whole time.

Once I was cleaned up, we got visitors! My husband’s family was all out in the waiting room more than ready to meet our little one. They came in and passed him around – each exclaiming how gorgeous he was. He has dark beautiful hair and big blue eyes. His head was only slightly misshapen and his face was a little puffy. He was the most gorgeous newborn I’d ever seen. He didn’t have a name until several hours later – once my husband and I were alone with him.

Wesley Daniel was 7 pounds 10 ounces and 19 3/4″ long at birth. He’ll be 2 weeks old on Wednesday. My husband and I are so in love with him. We had a great birth experience and while I’m no where near ready to do this again (I think the bruising and stitches need to heal first!) if I do, I will definitely be birthing with our midwives!

Thank you for the opportunity to share this. My hope is to inspire other moms and moms-to-be who are looking for a natural hospital experience. I blog about my experience at www.cookinwiththejohnstons.com
Leanne

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