***Disclaimer: This story details parts of my labor/delivery that deal with descriptive bodily fluids and candid honesty about childbirth. Read at your own risk. Also, please respect the decisions that my husband and I made to bring our little guy into the world, even if you don’t agree with them, by not leaving unnecessary messages in the comments section below. This is just an accounting of his birth story and not a forum for starting a debate.***
I had, what I would consider, an easy and enjoyable pregnancy. Other than some severe fatigue during the first two trimesters, some sore/numb feet towards the end, and some hip pain when I slept, I had little complaints. I had relatively little morning sickness (and never actually ‘got sick’), rarely had heartburn, and only peed on myself one time when I sneezed too hard (which I found more humorous than annoying). Also, on a couple occasions, I laughed so hard that the laughter turned to outright crying, which is a strange phenomenon and was comical to my husband. All-in-all though, I thoroughly enjoyed being pregnant and all that came with it. I had never felt more at home in my body or had such great body image. I was *supposed* to have a big belly, so having one didn’t make me feel insecure. I cherished my baby bump and delighted in all it offered (people are so nice to you when you’re pregnant!).
|36 Weeks at the Drive-In & I made it til 2am!|
|38.5 Weeks working on Baby's quilt|
Everyone hears horror stories from labor & delivery and I had heard my fair share as well. Before being pregnant, these stories always lead me to be in the “give-me-the-epidural-as-soon-as-I-walk-in” camp. Because, PAIN. But just the same, I wanted to be prepared to deal with contractions in case they had to turn off my epidural (like one friend I know) or if I got to the hospital too far into labor and they couldn’t give me an epidural (like another story I’d heard). These stories coupled with a slight fear of the epidural process (being confined to the bed for hours with completely numb legs freaked me out a bit) led me to seek some pain management alternatives. So, when I found out that the hospital offered a Natural Birthing class, I talked
reluctant Brandon into signing up for it…..just to be prepared. It was a series of three separate 2-hour
sessions, led by a registered nurse who worked for the hospital. Brandon was fairly skeptical of the natural
birth process. He questioned whether
natural labor was necessary (why not get the epidural if I can and enjoy the
process rather than endure it?) and he joked that it seemed slightly hippie to
consider it. But, because I wanted to
go, he obliged.
The class was a mix of lectures, slides, and videos, and it also allowed time to practice the techniques. It had about 8 couples and met in a large, open auditorium at the hospital with lots of floor space. This allowed us to spread out and try out the different poses, stretches, and breathing skills we were learning to aid in pain relief during labor. These stretches and poses also really helped my pregnant body feel better too. Our instructor, Iniko, was great and we learned so much! She was extremely reassuring, encouraging, and helpful. She made the class informative, enjoyable, and fun.
One hilarious moment came when Iniko had us all lie down on floor mats and listen to a relaxation tape. After the lights were dimmed, the voice on the tape guided us through how to completely relax our bodies, including imagining different smells (yeah, we agree, it was kinda weird). It went something like this: “Breathe in the scent of orange as you focus on relaxing your shoulders….” Brandon and I had begun to giggle to ourselves about the goofiness of the directive, so as the tape continued, so did our laughter. By the time we were to the point of relaxing our hips, we were almost laughing uncontrollably at various scents that could be released as we relaxed. And then the tape said something like “Now imagine the scent that is wafting through as you relax your rear end.” And that’s about where we completely lost it. Okay, maybe the tape didn’t say those exact words, but that’s how both Brandon and I heard it. Thankfully, all the couples were spread out in the room, so I don’t think we interrupted anyone else’s relaxation, but Brandon was laughing so hard that he was crying and he ended up leaving the room to compose himself. I think my idea of relaxing doesn’t include imagining different smells. But, to each his own.
In spite of the funny relaxation tape, we both really liked the class and became believers in the process. The more we learned in our class, the more I liked the idea of natural labor. I started to feel empowered and confident and not afraid of pain. With potential benefits like a shorter labor, the freedom to walk and move around during labor, less medical interventions that could affect Baby, and faster recovery time, plus my anxiety about having numb legs, Natural Childbirth seemed more and more like the way to go for me. I was skeptical to tell others I was feeling this way (I quickly found that people look at you like you’re crazy), but deep down, I knew I wanted to try this process. I couldn’t even really explain it, I just felt like my body was designed to grow and deliver a baby, so I wanted to let it do its thing.
Oddly enough, when I found out I was pregnant, I had not gone to a traditional Ob-Gyn Doctor for pre-natal care. Instead, I had chosen a midwife from the start (not knowing that I would later really need her support in going natural). Years prior, when I had moved to Lex and chosen an Ob-Gyn, I discovered that I didn’t like her, even though she was highly esteemed and recommended. During my first yearly exam with her, she seemed cold, had an off-putting bed-side manner and always seemed to set me on edge instead of provoking calmness. To me, she seemed hurried, annoyed, and way too young to have a lot of baby-delivering experience. At the time, Brandon and I weren’t starting a family, but I still wanted to gain a good rapport with someone for when we did. When that time came, I wanted to feel comfortable with the person who would take care of me during pregnancy and guide me through delivery. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t this doctor. So, the next year when it was time for my exam, I agreed to see whoever else in the practice was available, which turned out to be a midwife.
To my delight, the midwife was a true hidden gem. She is an older lady, not old, but older than the doctor I didn’t like. And her perfume smelled just enough like an old lady to be comforting (I know, I’m weird). She spent a long time with me answering questions and explaining to me the benefits of using a midwife. I also found out that we attended the same college (albeit several years apart) and so I just felt a comradery with her over that (Go Racers!). All-in-all, she just put me at ease with her calming presence and casual reassurance. When I thought of a midwife, I always thought of a home birth. So, I was curious when I found that she worked in a hospital setting. I was never one to consider a home birth (hats off to those that do, but I’d rather be at the hospital for those “what-if” scenarios), but as my midwife explained her role versus the role of a doctor during the labor and delivery process, I was intrigued and interested. In addition to the fact that midwives offer a more hands-on, focused experience, they also really care about what you, as the patient, want during your labor and delivery. They are patient to wait on labor, not rushing medical interventions, and not as quick to push towards a c-section unless really necessary. For me, it was the perfect marriage between reaping the benefits of a midwife, but having the assurance of the hospital’s protocols if there was any type of emergency.
My last prenatal appointment ended up being with the doctor I didn’t like because my midwife was out for a delivery. Brandon didn’t attend this appointment with me (one of only 2 appointments he missed – he was at all the others because he rocks as a husband and future dad!). The appointment fell when I was one day shy of being 40 weeks pregnant. The doctor, likely unaware of my intentions for a natural labor and desire for Baby to make his own arrival, seemed slightly aggravated when I said ‘no’ to her offer to “strip my membranes” (a process where she would go in and use her finger to gently separate the bag of water from the side of the uterus near the cervix). Um, no thanks! I just didn’t see the point of trying to *make* labor happen (but then again, I’m pretty stubborn). I wanted this guy to make his arrival when he was good & ready. I had also heard stories from other moms who’d had this done and regretted it. It caused bleeding, cramping for days, and needless worry. So, I was happy with my decision, even if the doctor wasn’t (just another reason I was glad I hadn’t chosen her to be my prenatal doctor!).
July 3, 2014: My Due Date!
40 weeks in and Baby Boy was showing no signs whatsoever of coming out. One of the only things I craved during my pregnancy was Indian food from one particular restaurant, so we went there for dinner that night. Not even spicy food could get him moving.
July 4-6, 2016: Overdue
I was starting to get round and massive – haha! I carried Baby Boy pretty low and since I already have a pretty short waist, my belly just didn’t have anywhere to go but out. Looking back at this picture, it almost looks fake!
We attended a fireworks show on the 4th at a nearby neighborhood. I will always fondly remember this night, waddling up and down the sidewalk waiting for the show to start, knowing it wouldn’t be much longer now til we met our Baby Boy. The fireworks were shot over a lake so the lights reflected and bounced around on the water and it just added to the dreamy ambiance of eager anticipation that filled our night. It was our last holiday as a family of 2!
As the days ticked by, I kept busy working on hobbies, taking naps, and watching Baby Boy kick my belly (that has to be one of the most weird, but most awesome feelings in the world!). Brandon and I even took in a movie on July 6. We saw Captain America: Winter Soldier. My mom told me later that she saw a movie on the night before she went into labor with my brother.
The looks that people give you when you tell them you are past due are a mix of shock and panic – ha! Their eyes get wide, they look at your belly, and you can almost see the fear in their eyes as they envision horrifying things like your water breaking on their shoes.
July 7, 2014: False Labor
For several months I had been experiencing “Braxton Hicks” contractions, these are smaller, sometimes not even noticeable (to some women) practice-contractions. Thankfully, mine were never accompanied with pain, but instead caused my belly to tighten up and labored my breathing just a tad until they were over. So when I was awoken around 4am with some crampy-type contractions I knew that they were different! Then around 5am I experienced some “bloody show” – a mix of blood and mucus which signals that this is the real deal, not just Braxton Hicks! I got excited and scared all at the same time and woke Brandon to tell him the news. I was able to get a bit more sleep and started timing the contractions around 7:00am. They were coming every 10-15 minutes and lasted about 30 seconds.
We decided Brandon should go on into work to tie up any loose ends and I'd let him know when to come back home. The contractions got farther apart, coming every 10-25 minutes. And then, around 9:00am, they stopped altogether. I can't say I wasn't disappointed, since I was now 4 days past my due date, but I wasn't surprised either as early contractions can start and stop before they really get going & stay going. Needless to say, Brandon worked all day. Between 9:00am (the time they faded out) and 11:30pm (when I went to bed), I had random, short, mild contractions. We wouldn't end up with a 7-7-14 Baby Boy, but at least now we knew he was finally making some movements to entering the world in the near future.
July 8, 2014: Not False Labor
After about 3 hours of sleep, I was awoken for the second night in a row with contractions (at about 2:30am), except, these contractions were more than crampy-type ones, they were a bit stronger. Still, they were only every 10-16 minutes and lasted about 25-60 seconds. I lost my mucus plug around 3:45am. But then around 5:30am, I had some bright red bleeding with less mucus (which could signal an issue). So, we called the after-hours line for my doctor's office and we were instructed to head to the hospital to get checked out and make sure all was well. After checking Baby, we were assured that everything was ok, but they wanted to admit me just the same for monitoring, even though I was only 2cm (but thinned out) and wasn't in active labor yet.
So, at 6:15am, I was admitted, gowned, and ready to roll! It was earlier than I had wanted to arrive at the hospital, as I was hoping to have labored in the comfort of my own home until I was closer to active labor, but I was glad to know that Baby Boy was okay. Brandon and I got a chuckle out of seeing the hospital paperwork after the fact. It listed my “Chief Complaint” as Pregnancy. I’d say the contractions were a bigger complaint, but I won’t split hairs as one leads to the other.
My partner in crime and in labor was there beside me. We were all studied and practiced up on our natural labor techniques and now it was game time!
At 7:00am, we had our first shift-change. Our new nurse, Terri, was big on natural labor and was excited that I had chosen that route. She was awesome and even snuck in some jello to me several times during her shift. I remember her telling me how fast natural labor can go and that she was scared I might sneak the baby out on her when she wasn’t looking. The trainee that was working with her scared us on more than one occasion by not being able to find the baby’s heartbeat (she was just inexperienced), but each time Terri quickly found it with no problems.
Sometime around 10:00am both sets of our parents arrived. My parents and Brandon's mom each came back to visit us in the labor room one-by-one. Otherwise, they were excitedly hanging out in the waiting room......
My labor was going S.L.O.W. Brandon and I found our rhythm in working through the contractions. We walked the halls a lot, listened to music some when I needed to relax, and Brandon read Bible verses to me that I had prepared beforehand. But things were moving at snails pace.
By the end of July 8th, I had worked through contractions that came anywhere from 2 minutes apart to 13 minutes apart, but on average were every 5-8 minutes. Some lasted longer than others (on average 45seconds to 2 minutes in length), but all fairly moderate to strong. I had only progressed 1cm though and was now at 3cm, after nearly 24 hours of labor. But, the natural labor techniques I had learned helped me work through each contraction and gave me confidence to continue. Brandon was my rock during the contractions. I focused on his eyes and he counted through each breath for me. It was such a neat experience to be doing this *with* my husband instead of him being a bystander. We were doing this together. Bringing our son into the world together. Even now, I get teary eyed thinking of how unique and bonding this time of labor was for us. We had a lot of time to ourselves which allowed us to rely on each other (mostly me relying on him, not gonna lie), and it just deepened everything between us that much more. Isn’t the Lord good, to use something painful like labor to strengthen your marriage? I mean, seriously!
As we moved from day one of labor, I never imagined we wouldn't have a baby that day. Everyone told me natural labor would make it shorter! Well, apparently my stubbornness runs deep.
Part 2 of Jedi's birth story will be posted in the next few days!