My son is asleep. Did you hear me? My 6 week old son went to sleep, without a big fight, and this is his second nap of the day. His second nap, might I add after sleeping relatively well last night. Relatively because ya’ll know newborns have their own standards when it comes to sleep. But this mama is happy! This also explains why it has taken 6 weeks for me to share my experience during his birth.
You may have read my post on why I wanted a natural birth. I know I was supposed to do a couple follow up posts. But to be quite honest, I was SUPER tired at the end of my pregnancy. So I didn’t get much done beyond what was absolutely necessary. (Like making a ton of freezer meals which came in really handy!) My apologies for that, but I will explain a bit of my reasoning in this post.
Unfortunately, and fortunately my son was “overdue”. I say fortunately because this gave my husband and I a little more time as a twosome. Now anyone who has done their research knows that the average first time mom delivers her baby at 41-41.5 weeks. Technically baby boy was still on time. But he was not on my schedule!
When I was at 40 weeks and 4 days, I started having prodromal labor. At night I would have real contractions, sometimes they would be close together. I would think, “ok in the morning they will get even closer and I will go into active labor.” Then when I woke up, they had pretty much stopped. This went on for 3 days. By day 3 I called my midwife, I was discouraged and tired. She said I could go in to see her, but there probably wouldn’t be much that she could do if I wasn’t in active labor. So I decided to hold out.
By the 4th night of prodromal labor I was done. This time my contractions were consistently 10 minutes or less apart. I wasn’t able to get any sleep, (on the previous nights, I slept fairly well.) so I knew there was something different. I called my midwife at around 12 am. She told me she would meet me at the Birthing Center at 2 am to assess the situation a little better. I gave birth at the Natural Birth and Women’s Center.
Once we got there, she checked my dilation and effacement. Fortunately my prodromal labor had bore fruit. However I still had a ways to go. She decided that I should stay there so that I could get some help with the process. I was very grateful for that since I would normally have to wait until things had progressed more. I REALLY needed Claudia’s help because I was having a very hard time relaxing through the contractions. Whenever I relaxed, they were much more bearable and they went by more quickly. She helped to keep me on the right path.
The cool thing about the birthing center is we were in a room very similar to a room you would find in a home. There is a big tub for water births. I had no intention on having a water birth. It just sounded icky to the germaphobe side of me. But I wanted to labor in the water. I heard that the water sometimes helps with contractions as well as with preventing or minimizing tearing. So I got in the water shortly after arriving. When it didn’t help with the contractions, I decided to get out and get in the bed where I thought I would be more comfortable.
I had a queen sized bed, so Lester was able to lie down with me in it for comfort. At this point, there wasn’t much that could be done for me. So I told my midwife that she could go in the other room to take care of things. I told Lester to lie down too so he could rest up for when things got real. Neither of us had slept since the morning before. I got in the bed as well. When contractions would come, I got up and powered through them, doing my best to relax. Then I would get back in the bed and take a nap. I ended up “going it alone” for about 2-3 hours. (I know that there are some massage techniques that help with labor. But I really just wanted to be left alone at that point.) Time really went by quickly though thanks to the naps that I had in between.
After a while, Claudia came back in and told me she had called the student midwife Johanna to come in and help. I went another hour or so with contractions on dry land. Then I decided to try the water again. I didn’t think the water would help with contractions, but I still wanted to uh…well soften things up in my lady parts in hopes of preventing tearing. Plus, the water was very soothing and relaxing between contractions.
I had another hour or so (honestly I don’t know why I’m giving time frames, I have no idea how long each step actually took.) of contractions in the water before I began to feel the urge to push. They asked if I wanted to get out of the water. Now mind you, ever since I can remember I planned to deliver either squatting or on my hands and knees on dry land. I knew that these were the “best” positions to give birth in since squatting uses gravity to help and the hands and knees position really opens up the pelvis. But at the point I didn’t want to be cold and have to dry off when I got out of the water. So I just stayed in there.
Oh I forgot to mention that my bag of waters hadn’t broke yet, and thankfully my midwives had no intentions of breaking it! I know breaking the water bag is supposed to speed things up. But this can cause a fast spike in the pain of contractions, plus it increases the risk of infection. It’s totally unnecessary to deliver your baby, things were just left as is. After pushing for a while, I looked down and I could see the bag of waters emerge first. My baby was almost here! I pushed again, and I got a peek at his head. He had a head full of hair! Some people are afraid of the “Ring of Fire”, I sure was. Even though it DID hurt to push his head through, it wasn’t that bad. It definitely didn’t help that the boy had his little tiny fist by his cheek when he emerged. I believe this is why I had the prodromal labor. My son LOVES to keep his hand by his head to this day. So this created a greater surface to push down and out! At least not in comparison to the discomfort of contractions. Plus I was prepared for it, and I knew that sensation meant that my son was almost here! (Like I said I was prepared to feel that. I think if I had an epidural and didn’t plan to feel anything, that would have freaked me out!)
After about an hour and a half of pushing, he was here! When he came out he did not cry at all. He made a few little noises and he moved his head to look around a bit. But he was totally calm. Claudia got ready to suction his mouth, then he turned his head around and spit the fluid out of his mouth on his own. He was not born completely en caul (or in the sack). When his head came out, the bag broke. I still think that it was pretty cool that my baby was born in water, in water.
After that I got out of the tub and the checked to make sure everything was good. My son’s umbilical cord was still attached to the placenta which I hadn’t birthed yet. Once I did, they tucked the placenta into a little package next to me while I held him. We did delayed cord clamping, so it was probably 30 minutes or so before his umbilical cord was cut. Everything was done at such a relaxed and calm pace. His weight, length, and apgar score was taken maybe an hour after he was delivered. This gave me and Lester some time just to bond with our little guy. We stayed at the center for about 4 hours after Calvin was born. Then we went home. Before I had him, I was freaked out about having to leave so soon after he was born. But I was really glad to get home and in my familiar place rather than staying somewhere over night. My midwife came to my house the next day to check on me and the baby. I had some additional questions about a couple days later and she came back again to work with us.
Would I do it all the same way again? Yes, almost completely the same way. I say almost because I would have been better about doing either the Hypnobirthing or Hypnobabies study. I truly believe that if I had followed through on one of those it would have taken the edge off of the contractions. Even though the contractions were VERY uncomfortable. I would still choose to have my baby without medication. Mind you, if I had been in a hospital I’m sure I would have convinced myself that I needed some pain medication. But I didn’t. That was the perk of doing it at a birthing center. I didn’t have the option. I would even do the water birth again IF that was what felt right at the moment. Since I was at the birthing center, I had options. I was able to follow the cues of my body, and that was really important to me.
Giving birth in this manner made me feel like a BOSS! I am so proud of myself and so happy that I was able to do it. As long as I can remember, I have always wanted to give birth without medication. Many people told me that birth is harder than I could imagine, and I wouldn’t be able to do it. I certainly doubted myself throughout the process. But I just tapped into the She-Woman that is deep down inside of me and I did it! Please understand that I fully believe that ANY woman who gives birth should have the same level of pride in herself no matter if she had a c-section, a water birth, a still birth, a barn birth, or birth in a car! Creating a human and bringing it forth is an AMAZING thing no matter how it happens. I am just grateful that I was able to of
Well that’s my story in a nutshell. I’m sure that I am forgetting to mention something. So if you have any questions about the process, ask away!