My birth story

For the first half of my pregnancy, I saw an OB for my prenatal care. As this baby wasn’t exactly planned, at first I just made an appointment with my mom’s OB — the guy who actually delivered me and my younger sister. And, at first, I liked him. We had our first ultrasound at 7 weeks, saw that little flicker of a beating heart, and made an appointment to come back at 10 weeks. During those 3 weeks, I started thinking about what kind of birth I wanted for this baby. I had heard that epidurals crossed the placenta and I didn’t want my baby to be drugged and drowzy after he or she was born, but I didn’t think there was another way. My cousin had her second daughter without an epidural, in a water birth. I messaged her on Facebook and she said that she would do it again in a heartbeart. I started reading up on water birth and other natural pain management methods and decided to ask my OB about it at the 10 week appointment.

His response was less than encouraging. He dismissed it as a fad, said that the birth tubs went unused at many hospitals, said that there was no medical benefit for either the mother or the baby. I went away from the appointment dissatisfied with his response. Everything I had read online made a water birth sound so peaceful, so calm, so natural. Why was he so dismissive or even hostile toward the idea? It was then that I began looking for another model of care.

Through a divinely-ordained series of events, I found a certified nurse midwife and a birth center about 45 minutes from where we were living at the time. After much prayer and research, I convinced my husband to take a tour of the facility. He wasn’t sure, but agreed to do the tour with me. I am so glad we did! We fell in love with the birth center; it was basically a bed and breaskfast where you came home with a baby. 🙂 And the midwife was wonderful. I instantly felt at ease with her. I didn’t feel like I would have to fight for what I wanted all the time like I did with the OB.

We decided to switch to the midwife practice, deliver at the birth center, and signed up for Bradley classes. Our journey toward a natural birth had begun.

I was due Saturday, January 17, 2009. Saturday dawned and I was hugely pregnant, miserable, and overly emotional. We went to Meijer and I cried in the cereal aisle. People kept texting and Facebooking me asking if I was in labor or experiencing contractions. Of course I was not. That night we watched a movie and I started having what felt like Braxton-Hicks. I didn’t bother timing them or anything like that because I had been having Braxton-Hicks for weeks. We went to bed around 11. At some point the contractions changed. They felt different than I had felt before, but were not painful yet. I got up at 2am to use the bathroom. When I threw my huge body out of bed I felt a little trickle, but figured I had just completely lost control of my bladder. I peed and then felt a huge gush of water. My water had broken! I wasn’t going to be pregnant forever! I called for my husband and he called the midwife. She told us to try to get some rest, and to call her when the contractions were 5 minutes apart. Well, I tried to get some sleep but it seemed tha after my water had broken the contractions picked up. I needed Tim to help coach me through them. We called the midwife back an hour later. I tried to relax through contractions as Tim scurried to pack up the car and things. We finally left for the birth center at around 6:30am, arriving at around 7.

My mom and sister arrived a little later, and I just chatted with everyone for another hour. Andrea checked me and I was 3.5 cm and 90% effaced. Not bad, considering I had been fully closed and only 50% effaced a few days before at my last prenatal appointment. I really wanted to get in the birth tub but the midwife said I needed to progress further first. My mom and sister went to get some breakfast while Tim and I hopped (okay, lumbered) in the shower. He sprayed hot water on my back which felt so good. We stayed in there until the hot water ran out. Then I labored on the birth ball for a while because my back was killing me and rocking my hips felt good. I didn’t know it, but my little guy was posterior, causing me to have back labor.

Things start to get blurry at this point. I had Tim, my mom and sister all pray for me. I was getting really tired and the contractions were getting more intense. After what seemed like forever I was able to get in the birth tub. Oh, it was wonderful. I was able to really let go, relax, and just let my body do what it needed to do to open up. I was even able to sleep between contractions. I could have stayed in there forever, but after 2 hours or so the midwife said I needed to get out because my labor was stalling a bit and the contractions were slowing down.

I labored on my hands and knees on the bed for a while, trying to get that baby to flip. At some point I started to feel like pushing. Pushing was the hardest part. Relaxing through contractions was easy; now I had to be an active participant in my labor. I was scared and unsure. Ah, transition. I asked people to please kill me, to take me to the hospital and cut the child from my uterus. I kept asking Tim if he loved me.

It took me about an hour to figure out how to push. I wasn’t really sure how to work with my body, but eventually I figured it out. While pushing on my hands and knees there was another big gush of water and the midwife said that I moved the baby down considerably. He had turned! It was only 45 minutes of pushing after that until he was out. I really don’t even remember the “ring of fire.” Everything was pretty numb from pressure by that point. One final push and his head was out, then the midwife flipped him because his shoulder was stuck, and his shoulder slid out. I did tear a little, 2nd degree. I pushed for 2 hours and 45 minutes.

That’s a little longer than average for a first-time mom. Why did I push for so long? Did I mention he was 9 lbs 4.5 oz?! Yeah, he was HUGE! I am so thankful that the Lord lead us to the birth center and the midwife model of care. In a hospital setting, I would have been sectioned for sure. Number one, he was posterior — had I had the epidural and been unable to labor in different positions, I would not have been able to get him to turn. Number two, he was big — some OBs flat-out refuse to let women deliver babies bigger than 9 lbs vaginally. Number three, I pushed for longer than 2 hours — and the biggest enemy of laboring women in hospitals is the clock.

My midwife and the birth attendants supported me and loved me, and most importantly, gave me time to labor. I never felt pressured or like I was on the clock. They simply had faith that my baby would be born.

And he was. Samuel Ezra was born at 4:42pm, after 15 hours of labor. I will never forget feeling him slip out of me and seeing him for the first time. He was so big and healthy and alert. Time seemed to slow down and I just took him in. I loved him instantly.

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I would do a natural birth again in a heartbeat. It was incredibly intense and difficult, but wonderful. The only thing I would change is that the took him away to be weighed before he had a chance to breastfeed, and we had a really rough start. But that story will have to be in another post….

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