I woke up a few times Tuesday (August 26) night to contractions and thought they felt a little stronger than the ones I had previously, but just went back to sleep each time. Wednesday (August 27) morning I woke up at 7:00 and I told Devin to go to work and I'd let him know if they continued. Well, at about 10:00 I was still having them and they had been consistently 5 minutes apart. (That's 3 hours of consistent contractions and my doc said if I had 6 in an hour to head to the hospital, but I wasn't ready to go. I didn't want to labor at the hospital and I thought I'd have many more hours to go, so I did some ironing, cleaning, put clothes away, you know, the usual Wednesday morning stuff...) The contractions seemed to be getting a little stronger, but not by much. I texted Devin the times of my contractions and thought he'd call if he thought it was serious, but I didn't hear from him, so I figured I was probably just excited for no reason and it wasn't really a big deal. When he called on his lunchtime, he said he didn't get the texts because his phone was on silent. He really did think it was serious and we decided I would go to my parents' house because it was only 20 minutes from the hospital instead of 40 from our house. He said he'd tell his teacher and come meet me.
So, at about noon, I got our hospital bags, filled the car up with gas, and drove to my parents'. I was afraid my contractions would slow down if I sat in the car and they did. They went to 15 minutes apart. I was a little discouraged after thinking this was it and now they were slowing down! I was tired, but I knew I couldn't rest if I wanted them to keep coming. When Devin got to my parents' we went for a walk. They moved to about 2 minutes apart and were strong enough that I had to stop walking during them.
After the walk, I decided I wanted to get in a cool bath because the walk had made me pretty warm. It was a really humid day. When I got out of the tub it was about 2:00 and the contractions felt pretty serious. I really had to focus on relaxing during them so they could do their job. Because of th increasing intensity, I decided it was now time to go to the hospital. I never associated the sensations I was feeling with pain. Knowing how the two primary uterine muscles work helped me recognize this as a stage of the birthing process rather than a stage of pain.
My mood was changing and I was getting grouchy...Devin needed some socks to wear and I asked my dad if he could borrow some from him. He was watching Planet Earth with Jaxon and responded with, "Yeah, go check in my drawer." I just gave him a look and said, "Are you serious?" In my mind I was thinking, "Do you see what's going on right now? I'm gonna have a baby soon and you want me to go digging through your drawer to find some socks so you don't have to get up from your oh-so-interesting nature show? How about you get up and go find them!?" He got the message and went to get the socks.
We walked out to the car, but went back in so my dad and Devin could give me a blessing. I was glad my mom suggested it because I had wanted one, but forgot about it as my mood got more serious. The blessing was a sweet moment that brought me peace, but I did tell them to hurry because I knew we needed to get to the hospital asap!
We left at 2:30. Devin and I drove in our car and my mom followed in her's. In the car, the contractions got quite serious. I know the stages of labor and one of the very end stages is wanting to give up and give in. When I had reached this point with Jaxon, I asked for an epidural for pain relief. This time, getting an epidural wasn't even on my mind. I did want to give up, but in a different way. My focus wasn't about "the pain." I didn't see it as pain. My focus was about just wanting to see my new baby. I remember saying, "I just want it to be over. I want to see Henry." I didn't even consider drugs for relief this time. The only thing I could think of for relief was to get that baby outta there! My mind really had dedicated my body to do it on my own, just like I wanted! (I definitely underestimated myself because I didn't think my mind was that strong, but it IS!) Devin told me that we would see Henry soon and encouraged me to keep relaxing.
Subconsciously I recognized the signs of this birthing stage. However, my conscious mind was battling what my subconscious knew to be true. I had learned that this is how a natural birth would feel, but I still didn’t believe it was happening exactly the way I had been taught it would. Even though my mind had doubts that Henry would be arriving soon, my body really did know it. Jaxon’s labor was so long I thought there was no way I was really at this point already. I kept telling Devin to go faster because from the passenger seat it looked like he was going under the speed limit! Definitely a way to anger a woman in labor: make her think you are going under the speed limit while on your way to the hospital!
We got there at 2:50. Devin asked if I wanted him to drop me off while he parked the car and I got mad and told him he couldn't leave me. Then I thought, "Wait, I can't walk from the car!" so I told him to park and go get a wheel chair. He ran and got one. (I knew he ran because I noticed he was out of breath when he got back and I was thankful he hurried.) Devin grabbed the bags and my mom wheeled me up to the 2nd floor. They took us right to Room 7 and this big guy- nurse got out a pee cup for me to pee in—like that was happening! I was moaning and saying things like, "I need to push!" and "He's coming! Now!" There was no time to pee!
So, I climbed up on the bed—no time for an IV, hospital gown change, paperwork, or anything—just like I wanted. I was on all fours, which was a birthing position I saw in a book and was totally turned off to at the time, but in the moment of giving birth, it was the exact position my body was comfortable with. This was where I wanted to be. While I was in this position, my mom helped me remember to breathe deeply: a long slow breath in and a long slow breath out. This style of breathing was paramount to helping me stay calm and making sure I was relaxed. It also helps bring maximum amounts of oxygen to the baby to allow minimal stress for him.
There were two nurses who said they needed to check me to see if I was really ready to push. I told them I was and they didn't need to check me. They insisted. I resisted. I was comfortable and I knew he was coming if they checked me or not. After several minutes, I switched to lay on my back and let them check me. It took one of them about .0001 seconds to "check" and see that I definitely was ready to push. She responded with, "Yeah, she's complete and plus 3" meaning I was fully dilated (at a 10) and the baby's head was 3 inches through my pelvis area—well on his way out! They told me not to push and I had to wait because the doctor wasn't there. Yeah right! I wasn't waiting for anyone! In reality, I didn't really need to be pushing at this point. The contractions were doing the work—no pushing needed from me! I did my best to kind of hide the fact that I was “going with” the contractions rather than fighting them like they demanded.
The nurses finally realized that we weren't going to be able to wait for the doctor, so they prepared to "catch." With one contraction they said they could see that the bag of waters was still intact with the baby's head under it. With the next contraction I pushed out the head and the water broke. I felt this big pop and was a little worried it was me that had popped! But, it wasn't me; it was the bag of water! I did not tear nor “need” and episiotomy.
Now the nurses could see that the cord was around Henry's neck.
They fixed the cord and with the next contraction, at 3:19 pm, the rest of his body came out (Devin said "he just shot out") and it was amazing! I didn't feel any pain. I was overwhelmed with happiness, surprise, relief, excitement, and a sense of accomplishment.
The placenta came with the next contraction and it was named "healthy" by the nurses. The doc showed up after that (I was a little bummed my doctor wasn't on call. He's great, but this doc was good too). She saw the baby was out and she wasn't really needed. I was crying and she asked if I was sad. I told her, "Nope, I just can't believe I did that!" And said it like 10 more times..."I can't believe I did that! I can't believe I did that!"
We tried nursing and he latched on at about 4:00 and ate until 4:30. Pretty good first meal! The nurses said he has a really strong suck. I agreed!
Henry’s birth was the most awesome experience. Devin was in tears too. He said I was “amazing” and he was so proud of me:) That's just the word I would use to describe it, "amazing." It really was. Natural birthing is nothing to be afraid of, but something that I wish every woman could experience. And I wish more women had the desire to experience and would try. It was such a wonderful moment to be able to feel the experience of bringing our baby into the world rather than not being able to feel anything like when I was medicated by the epidural last time. Plus, the recovery has been so much better! This time, my face looked much better because I didn’t break blood vessels in my face from unnecessary pushing. I felt great right after he was born and the vaginal swelling was SO much less! I definitely believe any woman can do it—if she WANTS to and she prepares and educates herself for it (and there are no medical complications). The mind is strong and plays a big role in allowing the body to accomplish the task. Labor is that—labor, but definitely do-able.
I love my little baby Henry and I couldn't be happier with how everything went. His birth was an incredible experience I'll always remember. It's so fun to be a parent and have sweet little children in our home. We are so blessed!