By Abi Porter
Before I jump into this I just wanted to quickly note that I spent a great deal of time during my pregnancy preparing myself mentally and physically for a natural med-free birth. I knew my body was absolutely capable of this and I read some fabulous books on the subject and they we're so important to how this all went down and I have so much to say that I feel like it needs its own blog post. So there will be a post later this week about how I prepared myself to the best of my abilities to have a natural unmedicated birth, what that was like in a hospital, what worked and what didn't and all that jazz!
But anyway, this is story of Beck's birth.
On Wednesday (November 27th) around noon I started having contractions 5 minutes apart but this was very normal for me so I didn’t think anything of it and decided to clean the house like a maniac to take my mind off of it. Around 5pm during a contraction i would also have a little back pain so I called the advise nurse to see if this could be “it” and she said it probably wasn’t but if it got to the point where I couldn’t talk through a contraction then to come in to Labor and delivery.
At 7pm, I was still having contractions and they were 2-3 minutes apart but not very painful at all. Maybe it was in my head but for some reason I just felt different so I hesitantly told josh I thought it’d be a good idea to go to the hospital just in case. I ate a baked potato and we left for the hospital. We told the kitties we’d be back in an hour and as we walked to the car I reminded josh that on the way home I needed to stop by trader joes to pick up food for thanksgiving dinner.
We got to the hospital around 8pm and I honestly felt silly checking myself in because the contractions felt like they had slowed down and I wasn’t in pain at all. I went to a triage room where the nurse hooked me up to the contraction monitor and after a couple minutes she came in with a surprised look and said “are you feeling these??” and my honest answer was…”not really, maybe a little” and she explained the contractions were coming really often and lasting long enough to consider it “Real” labor so she checked my dilation and sure enough I was dilated to 5cm and she told us she would get a L&D room ready.
Josh and I looked at each other really wide eyed and I said to the nurse “So I’m not going home?” and she laughed and said “Um, no! You’re having that baby soon.”
We nervously giggled and kept saying “what???” to each other and I got a little teary eyed because I couldn’t believe it was actually happening and we would be leaving the hospital with a baby!
Once I got to my room I immediately got on an IV to get a round of antibiotics since i was GBS+. I was told that no midwives were on call since it was the night before a holiday (Thanksgiving) but I didn’t feel too nervous about that since the nurses and OB on call we’re both aware that I wanted a totally med-free birth and everyone was happy to support me in that.
I wasn’t in too much pain and I just hung out in the room with Josh, my sisters and mom talking and joking around to distract myself. Josh and I walked up and down the halls for awhile trying to progress labor… we talked about how excited we were and prayed for things to go as smoothly as possible.
After a couple hours I wanted to be checked again so the OB came in and i was at 7cm now. YAY progress!! So we walked more. The nurses at all the stations told me I was the first person they’d ever seen calmly walking the halls at 7cm. After more walking and bouncing on a ball I was starting to feel the contractions even stronger and I would get back pain during them, so I just focused on breathing and staying as relaxed as possible. At this point it was the middle of the night and I tried laying down to get some rest since this was pretty much my last chance for that. The OB would be switching over at 9am and I would be rechecked then to see where we were at. I dozed on and off, talked and prayed with josh more, and did more bouncing and walking.
At 9am, the new OB came in (who the nurses described as a "midwife in disguise" and he was AMAZING) and he checked me and I was still at 7cm. He thought I could possibly be dehydrated so before we talked about doing anything else he wanted me to drink as much as possible and also get fluid through an IV and we would talk about what to do next at noon.
At noon, he came in and I was still 7cm and had been for about 12 hours with no progress. My water still hadn’t broke so we weighed the pros and cons of him doing it for me and since my water was going to eventually break anyway it was a no brainer, I definitely wanted him to do it because at 24 hours there would be talk of pitocin and I was trying to avoid that at all costs. This was the most natural way to progress things.
And boy did it! At 2pm he poked my waters. Two things I remember distinctly about it: 1) that is A LOT of water 2) that was very warm!
Almost immediately my contractions we’re stronger and pretty uncomfortable. I sat on the ball and leaned over the bed to just relax. I figured I still had a ways to go and I wanted to stay calm. Josh tickled my arm and I remember a couple tears streaming down my face, not because of pain but because it was feeling VERY real and I knew he would be coming soon. Each contraction got more uncomfortable and I was trying different positions and stances but it was getting really hard to focus. During contractions I would just close my eyes and pray and think about how each one of these was one step closer to my baby being here. About 40 minutes after my water broke, the nurse came in and could tell I was definitely in more pain than before and asked if i wanted to get in the tub. The answer to that was a big fat yes. Josh and I walked down to the private tub and it was seriously instant relief. I had one regular contraction in there and I kept telling josh how much better it felt and I was pretty excited to labor the rest of the time in the tub. Well, the next contraction I got I started to involuntarily push.. and I was like Josh! Go get the nurse because i’m pushing. That contraction passed and she came in what seemed like a half second later and told me I couldn’t push and I needed to get out. (I couldn’t give birth in the tub)
I stepped out of the tub and started to put my clothes back on but another contraction came and I jumped back into the tub. It felt physically impossible for me to not push during these contractions and there was no way I was doing that while walking back to my room. As soon as that one finished they threw a hospital robe over me and I pretty much ran back to my room, most likely with my butt hanging out (no shame when you're in labor).
When I got back, the nurse immediately checked me during the next contraction and sure enough I was 10cm and ready to roll! She called the amazing OB but told me not to push during contractions until he got there. This was the only part of my entire labor and birth that was actually extremely painful. I tried doing these few contractions on my hands and knees but I was shaking from being soaking wet and back in the air conditioned room, and I was pretty tired at this point and couldn't hold myself up very well with my wobbly arms.
The OB got there and he explained his pushing method, I got in an upright sitting position on the bed, they positioned a mirror (because I knew seeing the progress would help me) and Josh talked me through the pushes using the OB instructions. It felt SO GOOD to push, like instant and amazing relief, Which definitely isn't what I expected the pushing phase to be like. Don't get me wrong, pushing was hard work and physically exhausting, like running 10 marathons.. but not agonizing pain like is always depicted on TV shows and such. Another thing I was surprised by: in between contractions it was like I wasn't even in labor… I felt so at peace and closed my eyes, drank water and talked about how it was going. They were just what I needed to regain the energy to push again.
At one point the doc said something about how one of the pushes was really great and I replied "Is he crowning???" and he said "You wish!" and we all laughed. His sense of humor was awesome, even if I was maybe a tad disappointed by his answer ;)
I was having really strong pushing contractions but they weren't super close together so when one ended I was like "Gah! I wish I would just have more contractions so I could keep pushing"… the nurse and OB laughed and said they had never heard anyone say that before. It was true though, Even though the rest in between contractions was amazing and blissful, I knew I needed contractions in order to push and I wanted to see my baby!
After about 45 minutes of pushing, I was told this was it and to give it all I got and I did just that. At 3:45pm on Thanksgiving day, with one last push he was out! What an intensely beautiful moment. They immediately put him on my chest and I was so overcome with emotion. I couldn't believe I had actually done it and he was here. Nothing can prepare you for that moment, having your child who was just inside of you seconds ago, now looking up at you. The best high you could ever imagine. I looked up at Josh who had tears streaming down his face and deep look of a new love in his eyes. Holy cow, he was actually here!!!
He stayed on me skin-to-skin for an hour and I couldn't stop kissing his sticky little head. My greatest accomplishment, laying on my chest so content.
It was a life changing experience and a day I will never forget. I feel so grateful and blessed to have had the birth I was hoping and praying for and more importantly a healthy and beautiful baby boy.