When I was pregnant I loved reading birth stories. I think I read them every day or every other day. If you’re pregnant or have been you know why- because you can never be prepared enough to give birth even if you try. One of my favorite sources for birth stories was Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth. Its full of beautiful birth stories that helped take the fear out of birth for me. If you haven’t read it I highly recommend it! Even though I’m a very private person, I wanted to put my birth story out there for other women to read so it can hopefully help them with their birthing experience. Also I had a completely natural/ vaginal/ unmedicated birth in a birth center with a midwife so if you’re interested in that sort of thing, read on 🙂
Quick disclaimer: if you don’t like reading birth stories or things about fluids, mucous plugs, lady stuff, etc. don’t bother reading this because it’ll just be weird for you and nobody wants this to get weird. Ok? Ok. Moving on.
Get comfy, grab some tea, relax. Now, onto the story (its a long one).
I said that I wouldn’t be inpatient when my due date started to approach, that I would let my body go into labor when it and the baby were ready. That was definitely not the case and I should have known it wouldn’t be. I started drinking raspberry leaf tea around 34 weeks to get my uterus ready. I walked and did squats everyday. I did “the labor dance” (look it up on YouTube, its hilarious). We even hanky- pankied (TMI?). I literally did everything you can find on Google to try to jump start labor.
Once my due date approached I started using the breast pump. The day after my due date I was using the pump while listening to labor visualizations and felt my first real contraction. TBH you feel it in your bum, its really weird and very uncomfortable; sharp with a tightening sensation around to the belly. I actually had to breath through it but thought “hey, I can do this!” I got really excited but told myself not to get too excited because it might not be real. I got a couple more contractions that were about 7 minutes apart so I stopped to see if the contractions would continue or stop. After I stopped the pumping and visualizations, contractions occurred about every 30 minutes. They were mild, irregular, and continued throughout the night.
The next day I had an appointment with my midwife. I continued to have irregular contractions, some stronger than others. She offered to check if I was dilated but I declined because it wouldn’t make a difference for my progress and it can be discouraging to know you’re not dilated past your due date. Being impatient as I am, I decided to use the pump again that evening when my husband came home from work because I didn’t want to go into labor alone 😉 This started my contractions again and made them stronger which was exciting! Or so I thought at the time. I had these contractions throughout the night and this time they began waking me up about every 10 minutes. Around 4am I noticed they were becoming more consistent so I got out bed to move around and see if there was any progress. I started to time them and noticed they were about every 4 minutes and seemed to be pretty consistent. When Carlos woke up I let him know and he decided to stay home. We called the midwife and she was skeptical that labor was as progressed as I was certain it was, but allowed us to come in for a check.
When she checked me I was only 1 cm dilated. She also said that as a first time mama I should expect this to take a while. I was so upset. I was certain that I must be at least 3cm. Its so funny to me now looking back because I had NO idea how intense things would get! Anyway, I was still able to breath and sway through the contractions and figured things would progress in no time. Carlos and I grabbed breakfast and headed home where he filled the bathtub for me, lit candles, gave me some water and put on my hypnosis. How great is he?! He then decided to head to work and I stayed home to labor.
I continued to have mostly consistent contractions throughout the day but had some periods of irregularity which I ignored in attempt to convince myself that I was progressing. After Carlos got home around 6pm, the contractions increased significantly in intensity and I was so exhausted from not sleeping throughout the night that I was having trouble handling them. We called the midwife again around 6:30pm who said that as a FTM (first time mama) I likely still hadn’t progressed, but we were SURE some progress had been made. She agreed to see us anyway and check me. I WAS ONE CM. I found out that this was something called prodromal labor or false labor- real contractions that do not progress labor. I felt tears well up in my eyes because I was so frustrated. Not even because I hadn’t progressed, but because I wanted to sleep. What was her advice? GO HOME AND SLEEP. AND EAT. Yeah. Sleep with contractions. I told her she was asking me to do the impossible so she prescribed me a medication to help me sleep. It was my understanding that the medicine would help relax the uterus so contractions weren’t so strong therefore allowing me to sleep. I was very wrong.
I picked up the medication and took it immediately. Soon after, I began to feel very drowsy which was nice, but then I realized I still had very intense contractions. We headed to bed with hopes that it would improved but it didn’t. The medicine interrupted my ability to breath through my contractions so when they would wake me up I would just scream and halfway wake up, but because I was so drowsy I was still mostly asleep. It felt like I was having hallucinations! Moral of the story: don’t bother inducing labor unless its medically necessary!
When Carlos’s alarm went off in the morning he asked if he should go to work. I didn’t want to keep him home if I continued to not progress but was also terrified to be alone. He decided he should call my mama, to which I agreed. FYI, I always said I didn’t want my mom or sister present during my labor or birth because I’m a very private person and wanted that experience to be for me and my husband only; however, that all changed when I needed support and he had to go to work. He made me breakfast and headed to work. Soon after, my mom showed up around 7:30am. We hung out in the living room as I continued to listen to hypnosis, breath through my contractions and sway. At this point I was having to be vocal because the contractions were so strong. They really give the sensation of a wave crashing over you! I moved to the tub and continued this same routine. I found that what helped the most was consistency with listening to hypnosis, swaying, moaning, rubbing my belly, and moving my head side to side. I did all of these things from the start of my labor to when it was time to push.
My mom was so great. She fed me, supported me, and told me NO, you do not need the epidural 😀 (thanks mama). She started to time my contractions around 11am when they started to seem close together and when they reached 1-2 minutes apart around 2pm she said “I think its time to call the birth center!” After being told twice I was only at 1cm I was terrified of going back and being told the same. She called the birth center for me as I could hardly catch my breath and they said it was unlikely I had progressed much but that I could come in for a check, so we headed out the door. Imagine feeling like your pelvis is being cracked in half and having sharp pains all the way through it- then having to sit in a car to drive a whole 30 minutes. It was the worst car ride of my life! When we got to the birth center I saw one of the midwives Bree who checked me and reported that I was 4-5 cm dilated, completely thinned out and about 70% effaced. I cried tears of joy! Finally I was progressing. AND I was going to meet my baby boy! Truly the best and most relieving feeling. We called Carlos to tell him it was finally baby time.
He arrived about 30 minutes later, so happy and excited. I was so glad to see him. I was struggling to find a position that helped and just wanted to get in the bath. Bree wanted me to walk around but I insisted on the tub and she obliged. I really did try to snack throughout labor but it was really hard. The best thing I had was animal crackers! Everything else I tried really didn’t do it for me. Also Gatorade was AMAZING. Bree pretty much let me labor how I wanted and would come in periodically to check me, listen to baby’s heart beat and ask me if I peed recently (eyeroll- it was the least of my worries, but it IS necessary to pee!) She also kept suggesting that I stand which I really didn’t want to do but I agreed to go in the shower where I stood for about 20 minutes. This really helped my contractions increase in intensity but I was having a hard time standing. Carlos was so great- he kept reminding me to breath through my contractions and to relax my hands and face. I moved back to the tub where things continued to progress.
Around 8pm or so I felt like I could hardly get a break and contractions were SO intense. I keep trying to come up with ways to describe the feeling but the best I can do is that it feels like a baby scraping through your pelvis- which is what it is! If you’ve never experienced contractions past 4cm, it really is something. Its hard work. With each stage of increasing intensity I was wishing I was back in the previous one! I kept saying “I can’t so this” but in the back of my mind I was thinking “I am doing this, and I can do it!” and I had so much encouragement from everyone. They all agreed that I was making it look really easy (L O L WHAT) by the way I was handling it (thanks guys). I also kept saying “Is this transition?” over and over.
I then moved into this very strange stage of labor that was both wonderful and terrifying.
All of the sudden, I had a decently long, very relaxing break. OH it felt so wonderful. I began drifting off to sleep after not having slept restfully in 2 days. So beautiful. But then I felt a contraction begin to build, which was followed by the most painful contraction I’d felt. This cycle continued for a little while, and I believe at this point I was about an hour to 1.5 hours away from delivering. It was soooo hard to breath through these because the intensity was so overwhelming.
Bree finally checked me, which was super painful, and told me I was 9.5 cm dilated! I was so excited. I had a swollen cervical lip which was all that was blocking my little guy from descending fully so she politely moved it out of the way for me. I’d been feeling like my body was pushing during contractions but didn’t really actively do anything, but after the check she told me if I felt like pushing I should push! I started pushing with my contractions and it was suggested I move to the shower. The pain of pushing while standing was very overwhelming for me. I felt like he was going to drop out of me (if only it were so easy) and decided to move to the toilet. Bree was checking me more frequently at this point and told me to call for her immediately if my water broke. I thought I might be there for a while waiting for that to happen but about 10 minutes later while I was pushing I felt pop then gush. Carlos was right in front of me and thought it was the coolest thing ever lol! We called for Bree and she warned me things were going to get a lot more intense– which they did. YAY. After a few rounds of pushing, she suggested I move to the bed and she placed a birthing ball in front of me to lean over as I pushed.
I don’t know if this is just me but I really liked checking my own progress. Throughout almost the whole time I was pushing I kept feeling for Odin’s head. It was really gratifying and empowering! If you’re pregnant I really suggest it throughout your labor process!
I pushed while kneeling but sitting back for what I was told was 30-40 minutes. My sister called in that time and I agreed to let her come. I was experiencing a mental block- I was terrified of really pushing because I knew it was going to be painful. But I had to get over it and I’ll never forget that feeling of my baby moving through me (#ScarredForLife). After every push, I would reach down to see my progress and he had barely moved. “That’s it?!” I would say and whimper. But I knew it had to be gradual so I could prevent/ minimize tearing. I was so in the zone it felt almost like a dream. I got to the point where I felt like I couldn’t stop pushing because the urge was so overwhelming. That was followed by the “ring of fire” sensation and soon after, a sensation of something slithering out. I thought it was his head but it was his whole body! Bree told me to reach down and pick up my baby. I took him in my arms and looked at my son for the first time.
Wow. SO much emotion. I did it, I thought. And I cried. He was (is) SO cute. And I made him. I kissed my sweet hubby and thanked God for my little blessing. September 21st, 2016 at 11:29 pm, my sweet Odin was born to this world. 6lbs 10oz and 19 inches long.
Carlos held him while I birthed the placenta, then I had immediate skin to skin with him which was so beautiful. I was relieved when I only had a small second degree tear that didn’t need stitches. His little mouth was so tiny that it was a little tough latching on, but he got it within the hour. Carlos’s first daddy duty was to watch the newborn exam, then he was able to have skin to skin with him while I showered. Walking to the shower was so strange but that first shower after birth is AH mazing. Around 3am when we had both been examined and cleared, we were released home. My little family headed home where we had a beautiful, full 5 hours of sleep in our own comfy bed with Odin in his co- sleeper.
I was so cocky about having a natural birth which looking back was really naive of me. But I think it was good in a way because I was able to do it without being in fear of the process. I can now say I understand why some women get epidurals! However if/ when I have more kiddos I will for sure do it naturally all over again. I really, truly think it was worth it and after having done it, what seemed impossible during it seems so doable after, because it is! If anyone reading this is considering natural birth and has any questions/ comments feel free to reach out!
If you made it all the way to here thank you so much for reading! This experience was so amazing and so beautiful, I’m so grateful to share it.