Monday, August 11, 2014

I Had a Natural Birth and I Did it on Purpose

Disclaimer: This is gonna be a long one, but hang in there with me! 

It seems to me that every mom and mom-to-be loves a good birth story, all the details included (ok, maybe not every single one), and so I thought it might be of value to share one of my birth stories.

I say only one of the birth stories for a reason.  Both of my children's births were remarkable quite simply because at the end I had my healthy, perfect baby.  But one experience far exceeded the other and you might be surprised why - it was a completely natural childbirth.

There is so much fear for women surrounding the birth of our children and I believe it just does not have to be that way.  I also feel that every woman in this world is entitled to the birth experience they desire, whatever and however that might be.  Sometimes its just a matter of having the right knowledge and support in order to produce that experience.

My first child entered this world 27 hours after my first contraction arrived.  Needless to say and to summarize, I was exhausted by the end and resorted to the one thing I had hoped to avoid- an epidural.  He arrived slowly and surely though and we were in love from first sight.  This birth was in a hospital with the on-call OB/GYN - I saw the doctor for literally about 15 minutes - most of the labor was monitored by the nurses who could have done the whole job in my opinion.  She was there for the last few pushes, stitched me up, and on she went. I didn't even have a chance to get a picture with her and my baby.

When I found out I was pregnant with my second baby, I knew I wanted this experience to be different.  I also knew that my first birth was not the total birth experience I wanted - mainly because I did not have the knowledge and the tools to create the birth I longed for.

I did some research and found an amazing OB/GYN office - which also staffed three midwives - and happened to be right down the road from my house.  I promptly made an appointment with a midwife to confirm the pregnancy.  After my first visit, I was overwhelmed. I knew this was exactly what I wanted but I was also scared...

These amazing midwives also did something unique called Family Circle.  For the duration of of pregnancy, instead of monthly office visits, we met with couples due the same month as us and discussed topics, shared stories and gained incredible knowledge related to birth and babies.  (Don't worry- there was also time during the monthly meetings for private medical visits with a midwife.)  But really the main takeaway for me was leaving this experience with that knowledge and those tools that I was craving.  Namely, how to make it through the labor and delivery without drugs.

Now, I will preface this all by saying that probably one of the main reasons my drug-free experience went so well was because my little baby arrived in record time.  Granted, she arrived 9 days late, but that's another story for another day.  And, definitely not a sunshine and roses story. If you have been overdue, you know what I'm talking about!

The final detail was to assemble the birth team I knew I needed to get me through this.  I had the midwife selected.  Next in line was husband and being absolutely convinced that he knew his role.  Just to make sure he knew my expectations, I turned on my Type "A" personality, typed up a list of all the things I wanted/didn't want during the labor and delivery process and beat him senseless with it. Finally, there was my mom- who not only is a nurse but had three of her own natural deliveries (one a home birth - My mom is way ahead of her time it seems and also my inspiration for doing life naturally).

I'll skip the gory details and give you a recap of what matters.

I had contractions - but none that lasted or were very severe - for several hours and then they stopped around 2 am.  I went to bed exhausted but also disappointed.  Let's remember, I was 9 days overdue at this point. I just wanted that baby OUT.

Next thing I know I woke at about 4:30 am with extremely strong contractions averaging 2-5 minutes apart.  With my first birth, I don't think I felt one contraction before the epidural as strong as these were coming.  In hindsight, that should have been a sign to all of us this was moving faster than we anticipated.  Somehow I got myself into that "zone" everyone talks about.  Husband called the midwife, she said get to the hospital and we started to get dressed.

Well, that took what seemed like an hour.  Actually, I think it was an hour.  When you have to stop every minute for a two-minute contraction, it kinda slows the process down.  All I really remember is my husband trying to make me move faster and my mom telling him to shush because I was in so much pain and could barely move.

So, off to the hospital we go (the car ride likely deserves its own post).  My mom, being the strong-willed, don't-take-no-for-an-answer woman she is, refused to take a "no" from the ER staff that I needed to stay for the filling out of the paperwork and literally pushed me in a wheelchair up to labor and delivery.  I was also able to skip the triage thanks to my amazing midwife Janice who somehow knew we didn't have much time to waste.

We get into the room and its a blur from there.  I remember being so excited to get into the tub they were filling up for me.  Little did I know but that baby would be out before the tub was even full (Side note: it might be a good idea for the hospital to consider a quicker way to fill a tub than a hose from the bathroom sink.)  At this point, it was just about 7 am and I was 6 cm dilated.  They had to hook me up to monitors for 20 minutes to check the baby's vitals.

Unfortunately, laying flat in bed was not an option at this point so I was on all fours working through the contractions.  I focused solely on my husband's and my mom's voices and nothing else.  They told me what to do and I did it.  Breathe, relax your shoulders, breathe, loosen your grip, breathe...

At some point, what felt like hours later, but was only about 30 minutes, I clearly remember thinking: wow, the pain in my stomach is gone.  That feels amazing.  Meanwhile, there was a stronger, more intense pain down lower.  But it was different and in a way, better, although my husband wouldn't agree with this from the other noises I was making. What I did not know was what that meant nor could I verbalize this (or anything else for that matter- I was communicating in grunts).

Within a minute of this change, my midwife Janice wanted to check me and when she moved my gown, she was greeted with a surprise - the top of a baby's head!  So, that explains that new and different feeling.  It was a head emerging. One more contraction and that little baby girl (It's a girl!) was out.  RELIEF.  The relief from the pain was completely instant.  And, it was 7:44 am.

It took me a while to catch my breath and open my eyes.  Meanwhile, the baby was latched, I was cleaned up, and we finally took in all that had happened in what felt like record time.

I am so grateful for my quick, yet incredibly intense, labor and birth.  It was, without a doubt the most amazing, raw, and empowering experience of my life. I also know how incredibly lucky I am that I was able to have this experience, because as we all know, when it comes to birthing a baby there are a lot of things that can go wrong.

My mid-wife used the analogy of a freight train and I wouldn't disagree.  But, I DID IT.  It still brings tears to my eyes to think about that magical moment.  One I wish I could repeat (yes, I said repeat) if only to capture and remember every little detail of my girl coming into this world, even the painful parts.

There she is!

Here's what I have learned:
1.  I can do ANYTHING. I am strong, I can endure, and I can overcome pain (and I am a wuss when it comes to pain).  Nothing before or since has made me feel so empowered.  When faced with any challenges since this moment, I literally think to myself: well, if I could get through that, then I can make it through this.

2.  Our bodies can do anything.  I know it sounds clich√© but it is entirely possible.  I don't know who to blame but "they" have conditioned us as women to believe that we cannot endure this pain of childbirth.  Women have been birthing children for centuries without drugs. This is largely what connects us as women. Knowledge is power and with that women have the power to make their own decisions regarding the kind of child birth they desire, whatever it is.

3.  Doing it natural is easier.  Yes, for real, and in my own personal experience, of course.  With my first birth, I had an epidural for about 9 hours.  That's a whole lot of extra fluid to deal with at the end, not to mention having anesthesia in your body which takes days to completely vacate. After this birth, I felt amazing, I wasn't tired or sluggish, and I had energy I hadn't experienced in months!  I am sure there is a chemical/hormonal thing going on here to make me feel this way, but in the end: my recovery was by far quicker and easier than my first birth.   

Proud Momma: Tracy M. at 

Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful birth story!

1 comment:

Clarissa B. said...

Gee, thanks a lot! Now I'm baby hungry! ;)