Birth Story Part 4: The Birth
As I mentioned before, I was on bed rest for almost 2 weeks and was told to do basically nothing a couple weeks before I went into labor. I was losing my ever-loving mind! I have no idea how women who go on bed rest very early in their pregnancy do it! I just wanted this baby to get here already! And since I was on bed rest I was nervous that it would slow down the process. I had a large exercise ball I would sit on and do hip circles and figure eights a couple times per day, but other than that I was in bed.
Four months before she was born we bought a television for our bedroom. We just had the one in the living room and since our house was not air-conditioned, except for the window unit in our bedroom, I wanted a TV in our room. It is important to note that once it started getting hot I told Chad I was moving if we did not put a window unit in the living room! Thankfully, due to my complaining he obliged and we got the biggest one that would fit in the window! It was amazing!
Back to the TV…so the evening before she was born I was watching television in bed and fell asleep. I woke up to the smell of rubber burning and realized it was coming from the TV. It was toast. Needless to say I broke down into tears and thought it was the end of the world. (It really is pathetic how upset I got that I couldn’t watch TV in our room!). I really think that’s what sent me into labor (I’m only half kidding!).
I remember waking up at 4:08am and feeling some weird and painful cramps. I tried to go back to sleep but the pains were getting more intense and I was having insane back cramps. It was almost impossible to time anything and my water had not broken. I had been having cramps and pains for a few weeks now so I did not think I was in labor at first. I decided to take a bath, but the pains were getting so intense that I just had to get out. I remember peeing and when I stood up there was a gush, but I thought maybe it was just pee. I woke Chad up and he told me to call my doula and tell her what was going on.
A doula is like a birth coach. She does not deliver the baby, but is there for emotional support. She knows positions to get you into to help the baby get into the right position. She knows ways to speed up labor, and she can intervene when the doctor wants to do something that is medically unnecessary. My doula, Brooke, also taught our birth class. She was insanely educated so I new she would be lots of help. Before going into labor I knew she would be a great asset in the birth center, but when I realized I was having a hospital birth I was even more thankful for hiring her.
When I called her I could hardly describe what was happening. It was all so random and nothing was really where I could time it. The back cramps were getting more severe and it was just constant pain. Since I did not know if my water broke she told me to go lie down for 15 minutes and then get up and see if there was a gush and to call her back. There was no gush but because the pain was so intense she said to go to the hospital. At some point before we left the farm there was a gush so I knew my water had broke.
It’s funny looking back because all the other times we thought we were going to Tulsa and coming home with a baby I made sure the house was clean, I shaved my legs, straightened my hair, put on make-up, etc. This time I did not care about anything at all! Well, other than getting my baby out!
We pulled into the hospital at 6:54am. The drive there was horrible. It normally takes about an hour and twenty minutes and we got there in less than an hour! I remember the nurses saying they thought that they would see me again soon. Since I had been monitored there twice before we had got to know each other a bit. They put us in a room and I put on a gown. I thought I would be mad about the gown since I bought a cute dress to wear for the birth center, but at this point I would have been just fine naked! I had never in my life felt so much pain. The contractions were about a minute apart. People kept trying to get me to sign papers and I wanted to punch them in the face. Did they not realize how much pain I was in? How am I supposed to sign anything right now? Geeze!
I was thankful one of the nurses looked at me sternly and told me to calm down and breathe, because changing my breathing really did help. I could not lie down. I had to be standing and holding onto Chad and in between contractions I sat in a rocking chair and rocked. At one point I told Chad I did not think I would be able to do this without an epidural, which is something I was absolutely opposed to before. The nurses checked me and I was 100% effaced and dilated to a 5. I asked the nurse how much longer she thought I would be in labor and she asked if I wanted the truth or a lie. I said the truth. She said it normally takes 2 hours for every centimeter you dilate. That’s 10 hours, I thought!!! I told Chad there was no way on earth I could be in this much pain for 10 more hours. I felt so cold and weak and my eyes were rolling back in my head. I just knew I was going to pass out. I had never felt anything like that before.
Brooke, my doula, walked in and the first thing I said to her was that I could not do this anymore. She said that was good because it meant I was almost done. The back cramps were just as bad as the contractions and they were constant. Thankfully, Brooke brought her TENS unit and put it on my lower back, and it made the world of difference. The exercise ball the hospital had was really small, and since I was used to sitting on ours Chad went to the car to get it. We never even got to use it because by the time Chad came back up it was time to push.
When the nurse came back in Brooke had them check me again. I was a 9. Oh thank God! It had not been very long since the nurse told me 10 hours so I was so relieved. Brooke had me get on my left side and pull my right leg up. I automatically started grunting and pushing. She had me blow through the pushes so the baby would not come just yet. The doctor had gone to get coffee because he thought I would still be a while so they had to call him and tell him to hurry and get back. I remember hearing him outside of the room just chatting. He did not realize I was the patient that needed him.
Chad said he was in boots and shorts and did not look doctor-like at all. I really do not remember what the heck he was wearing! They had me turn over and start pushing. This was the easy part. The contractions were over and all I had to do was push. I pushed a few times. It really was not very long and then she was there on my chest. It makes me cry just thinking about it.
I went into labor at 4:08am, made it to the hospital just before 7am and she was born at 9:10am. I did not cry when they put her on my chest because I think I was still in shock from the whole experience. It was so fast! Words cannot describe how it all went down. She weighed 7 pounds 9 ounces and was 21 inches long.
Chad was able to cut the cord. A few minutes after they put that high-pitched screaming little girl on my chest she started nursing. That is when I started to cry. I remember saying something like “This is my baby.” Breastfeeding my child is something I had dreamed about and when she latched on for the first time I felt more peace and love in my heart than I can describe.
She nursed for an hour while the doctor sewed me up. I had a second-degree tear. I do not remember much about it, but while I was pushing the doctor wanted to do an episiotomy. It is better to tear naturally than to be cut. When you have an episiotomy nerve endings are cut, but when you tear naturally it tears around the nerves and heals faster. There is a larger chance of long-term damage when nerves are cut. Pushing her out was not as painful as I had thought and I did not even know I tore until they told me. When the doctor had suggested an episiotomy supposedly I told him he could do whatever he thought was needed. Thankfully, Brooke and Chad encouraged the doctor not to do the episiotomy. They gave me a hard time later for even considering it. Hey…I was a little out of it!
We stayed in the hospital for 24 hours and then went home. We were both very healthy. Eden Grace had some bruising on her face from coming out so fast, which most likely contributed to the jaundice she was hospitalized for later in the week.
Earlier in my birth story I mentioned Better Birth Now, where we took our birth class. They offer several services to pregnant women and mothers. My doula actually started the company. One of the services they offer is placenta encapsulation. Many cultures around the world consume the placenta of their child due to the massive amount of nutrients it contains. Instead of eating it, I thought I could stomach swallowing it in pill form. It not only replenishes iron, but reduces the risk of post-partum depression. Since I am considered high risk for postpartum depression due to being diagnosed with anxiety and depression there was no hesitation to have my placenta encapsulated. I am so thankful I chose to do so because I genuinely believe it helped me to recover faster both mentally and physically.
Though I was not able to have Eden at the birth center like I planned, I had a completely natural, intervention-free hospital birth. It was so much better than I could have imagined. I was so proud of myself for being strong enough to say no to unnecessary interventions. I did not have iv fluids, I was not hooked up to any monitors, I did not have an epidural, and they did not even monitor my blood pressure, which is ironic since that’s why I was there in the first place. I could not have done it without my amazing doula, Brooke and my husband there by my side.
I am also very thankful for my midwives. Though in the end I could have had a birth center birth my midwives did not know that. They were cautious and at the first sign of concern they referred me to a physician. I will definitely be thanking them for their care when I see them for my six-week checkup.
I wrote this birth story more for Chad and I than anyone. I know we will look back on this in the future with tears and smiles. But there were also several of you who questioned midwifery during my pregnancy and I hope this gives you a glimpse of what it is all about. I trust the midwives at the birth center. They are very educated and careful. My hope is that midwifery will grow in the United States. I also hope that pregnant women will realize they are in control of their labor and delivery. It is up to us to educate ourselves and use the resources out there. Being pregnant and having a baby has given me a passion for natural childbirth, and I really believe God is going to grow and use that passion in the future. I believe doctors and hospitals are necessary, but only when they are necessary.
Well, there you have it. I tried to remember as much detail as I could without being too graphic. I’m sure I left out some things. Eden is 5 weeks and 1 day old as I am finishing this birth story and it still does not seem real to me that I have a daughter.