I have now been meaning to write this story for 9 month! Better late than never. When preparing for delivering each of our babies, I really enjoyed reading and listening to people’s birth stories. It’s like this major event that no one really talks about in detail in normal life, women are just pregnant and then next you see the pictures of tired parents with squishy little newborns. But what happens in between? I liked the idea of a natural birth (what I mean by that is no pain meds/epidural) and aimed for that with O, by making a nice little birth plan I showed to my doctor, reading a Bradley book and practicing through fake contractions with Chad. But boy were we unprepared that first time around, and ultimately I had an induction, followed by epidural, overnight labor, and plenty of unpleasant physical recovery afterward. So, this time around with baby #2, I still liked the idea of natural birth but had that previous experience of getting an epidural, so I doubted by ability to ‘gut it out’ when I knew differently from prior experience. Over the course of this pregnancy, though, I came to two key points to help me decide on my birth plan: 1- stop asking ‘why do I want a natural birth?’ and try to justify it to myself or others, and start asking ‘Why not?’ … and 2- focus on goals for a better postpartum experience instead of the birth itself, as a numb birth led to some painful aftermath from bad tearing that I wanted to avoid experiencing again. So, we hired an amazing doula (birth coach) who could take over the hard work (well, I had the hard work I guess, but she did the heavy lifting when it came to guiding me through it) and let Chad just be Dad, and help give us confidence and negotiate decisions. I read somewhere that if a doula were a medication, every insurance plan would cover it in full for every birth. It’s that beneficial. We met with her twice beforehand to talk about goals, get tips, etc. I also was under the care of midwives for this birth, instead of an obstetrician, so that totally changed the vibe of pregnancy care and turned out to dramatically change things in terms of delivery philosophies as well. Highly recommend a midwife practice for a healthy, low-risk pregnant woman!
So, today’s focus, the delivery itself– since I was registered with our hospital’s on-site natural birth center (a no-intervention birth suite attached to the hospital), they completed a thorough review of my history (they will only accept the lowest risk deliveries) and required me to have my ultrasound at 39 instead of 40 weeks, since I had very low amniotic fluid with my previous pregnancy by 40 weeks. This ultrasound at 39 weeks revealed quite low fluid as well, so there we were getting advised on immediate induction… again. No! I was so afraid of having pitocin again and thought it was going to derail everything. I was more relaxed this time, though, knowing birth plans need plan A, B, and C. I was sad I would be admitted to the hospital and no longer allowed to go to the birth center- since inductions is not something done there. I was really counting on relaxing in their giant tub!! But atleast the day had come and we had a few hours to get O taken care of at our friends’ house and pick up our stuff before heading to the hospital. I also sent out my pre-drafted email to some girlfriends notifying them and asking for prayers for a “safe and gentle” birth, which had become my mantra. And then, yet again, I walked into the hospital and signed papers completely not in labor, just like the first time. No laboring at home, no birth center. But atleast this time I had my bag of goods and my doula on the way. I’d also been having sooo many contractions in the last month or so that I thought surely I can just take a whiff of the pitocin and this baby will be out! But a few hours later (we started around 2 pm), hanging out with the drip, nothing. “Is it getting painful yet?” they kept asking me. Umm, no, I’m sorry I’m not in pain fast enough for you? So by about 8pm, my midwife asked me what time I usually go to bed and tells me if my body isn’t going into active labor by then, we can stop, get a good night’s sleep, a good breakfast in the morning, take a shower, and start fresh in the morning. This was a shocking offer I will tell you. I didn’t know that was even an option! And I think I can say pretty confidently it wouldn’t have been with a physician. But midwifery is a different philosophy. Her angle was to have me in the best possible shape for delivery and postpartum, and since I would be in the hospital on a fetal monitor, the baby would be safe. If anything changed, we could change course since she would stay in the night in the hospital call room, but this option is the one we went with. Our doula went home after an uneventful evening, but I was so glad she was there for the moral support (and bonus foot massage!) given my fear of the induction. And with my fear greatly reduced after nothing really kicking in after 4-5 hours, I took a Benadryl to sleep (prescribed by midwife no less), ate a good breakfast, and had a refreshing shower as directed! Even my hair looked pretty good for this labor starting out.
Pitocin started again around 9:30 the next morning, I started feeling it in my back around 10:15, and then asked our doula to aim for arriving around noon. After how the evening before went, I was ready for a long slow process so was much more relaxed about requesting her to come in. By 11:15 I felt like I was needing to really focus, stop talking etc, through the contractions.
(pic below from 12:11 pm, in labor)
By noon our doula texted she was stuck behind a car accident, so got there closer to 12:30. That’s where the text message string on my phone stopped 🙂 But between starting to focus through contractions and our doula’s arrival, I got checked and was at 6cm (yay!), soon after my water broke (that’s an interesting thing, just leaking out dripping around everywhere), so I was in a great place when she got there. My parents had gone to get lunch in the hospital cafe, but Chad just grabbed his sandwich to go and returned quickly so I wasn’t alone before our doula got there. He ended up walking back in with her. Very soon after, a few ‘stop me in my tracks’ contractions, and I didn’t want to sit on the birth ball anymore, it sounded good to try laboring in the tub or try something different. So that was getting filled up while they helped me get situated leaning forward on the end of the bed for a bit. (I learned after that my doula whispered to Chad at this point that I would not be actually making it to that tub). That’s when the next contraction hit, probably around 12:45 or 1, that literally must have been the baby dropping right into place and it was game ON. This is when natural labor got primal. Sounds I didn’t know my body could make. An internalization of my attention/focus that is hard to describe. A team of people was suddenly in the room, Chad was heaving me up onto the bed as my knees were buckling (sorry about that, honey). Somewhere in there my parents wandered back to our room from the cafeteria and got a shock I believe (Mom can chime in on exactly how their arrival fit into the time series). And onto delivery we were! Our doula spoke right into my ear words of magic and regularly applied her elixir of essential oils and about 30 minutes later lying on my side and one contraction at a time, little Greta inched her way out, born around 1:30pm. All 8lbs 4oz with her arm up against her face superman style (very helpful position, sheesh). When she finally came out and was up on my body I gushed with tears, just overwhelmed by the intensity- emotionally, physically, psychologically- of the whole event. We did it! I did it! She was here! Although I still didn’t know she was a she at that moment. Chad got to check and announce boy or girl, so we soon had the big news 🙂 We snuggled and nursed a bit and then while they did all the newborn checks and immediate care items, I got my clothing switched from my maternity t-shirt dress- that had gotten a bit, uh, messed- to a hospital gown for transferring to the postpartum room, and we started getting organized to head out of the labor suite after a couple hours to chill and bond. Oh, and somewhere in there I delivered a placenta and they checked me out, reporting ZERO tearing. Mission accomplished. I officially felt like a superhero and was in love with my midwife and doula. I don’t think this labor and delivery could have gone better. I am soooo thankful! If only Chad hadn’t rubbed my hair into a birds’ nest during the pushing stage… ah, can’t win ’em all!
(pic below from 5:30 pm on our way to postpartum wing)