Two and a half years ago I walked into the hospital completely prepared for caroline’s birth. & by prepared, I mean I scheduled my induction, showed up on time and got the pit going. I read a dozen books on parenting. A half dozen on what happened week by week during my pregnancy. But not a single one on birthing. I mean…that’s what doctors are for, right?
Boy, did I learn my lesson.
I spared the details (as I am not into scaring anyone) but it was not a great experience. I do not remember the entire first week of my daughter’s life & I vowed that would never, ever happen again if I was lucky enough to have a subsequent pregnancy.
& I didn’t let it happen again. I got my perfect birth–my drug free, doula assisted beautiful delivery. & I remember every single moment of it. & I am still on a total high. Two weeks postpartum. Not taking any drugs at all. Eight pounds left to lose. With an alert, beautiful baby boy at my side. I swear he is so alert because he was never exposed to the cocktail of drugs that most infants get from their mamas. His big blue eyes are wide and open most of the day. I could stare at them forever.
But my birth…magical. It was absolutely magical. So this is how the story goes…
I woke up on my due date bummed that I hadn’t had a baby. I was almost certain that I was going to go early. But February chugged right along. I was having sporadic contractions here & there but nothing to get worked up about.
On Feb 17th I had some very strong movement–not contractions exactly–but painful movement and pressure that was regular and extremely uncomfortable. A few texts back & forth with my doula with suggestions for some positioning & they ceased. & so we waited. My doctor was out of town until Feb 20th so I was perfectly comfortable waiting for her to get back. She was who I wanted to deliver my baby. She is the one who not only recommended my doula, but gave me her own birth plan and encouraged the use of one. The first day I met her, she called herself “a midwife trapped in the body of an OBGYN.” & it was then that I knew she was the perfect one to manage my care. If you want an OBGYN who is supportive of natural birth–I cannot say enough positive things about Dr. Schwope with Lonestar OBGYN. Call her. Tell her I sent you. It’s the best decision I made–because I always knew that I could have the birth I wanted & she reminded me of this every time I saw her.
Ok. Back to the story…I had my inlaws head down from Dallas because I was stressing about what to do with Caroline if I went into labor in the middle of the night. We had a backup plan. And a backup for the backup. But I just felt better about having them in the house, knowing that the chances of going into labor alone were pretty good, as my husband’s hours were crazy, as usual.
The inlaws arrived on Saturday, February 18th. No baby. Sunday came & went. No baby. No signs of baby. I was super uncomfortable but my heartburn was suddenly gone. Hmm. On Monday I finally lost my mucus plug and started to bleed a bit. Soon?! Maybe?? Contractions here & there. But again, nothing painful. When the bleeding didn’t stop on Tuesday, I went in to get checked out. I dragged my poor post call hubby along & it was confirmed that I was still dilated to 3cm (no change from 39wk appt) but my cervix was 70% effaced and she could feel the baby’s head. Good news–but I was so uncomfortable. It had to be soon. So I pulled out my pump–spent 15 min on to see what it would do. & it did…nothing.
On the afternoon of my due date, Wednesday 2.22.12, I decided to complete the last thing on my baby to-do list: the slipcover for the rocker in the baby’s room. I pumped at about 2 pm for 15 min and then locked myself in the nursery to sew during nap time. I was sitting on the floor a lot. Moving a lot. Standing a lot. My hubby called about five times asking if it was baby time. I assured him it wasn’t. But by time he called to say he was heading home from work, I was starting to have regular contractions.
I started writing them down at 6:30pm. They continued, very regular (2-5 min apart) but not anything to get excited about until about 8:30. By 8:30 I was starting to sweat with each one and I could feel my body getting really warm but they still weren’t painful.
By 9pm the contractions were making me well up with tears. They were uncomfortable and emotional–for whatever weird reason. Still not terribly painful. I went up to my bedroom, and used the edge of my bed to breathe through each one. By 9:30 I decided to take a shower and get ready to go to the hospital. It was time. They were getting intense.
We were on the road at 10:30. I was having strong and painful contractions in the car and as we were about to get on the freeway (it’s a 30 min drive) I realized that somehow my hypnobabies was deleted off my iPhone and I flipped out. I wanted to turn around but the contractions were long and strong. My husband made the executive decision (as I grabbed the ceiling through a contraction) to keep going & reminded me they were on my iPad. I pulled out the iPad and just listened to the tracks on that. I only had about three contractions on the way to the hospital, and he was convinced that I was slowing down. He thought it was another false alarm. But oh my goodness. It sure wasn’t. I was breathing deeply and really focusing on relaxing. I was listening to the hypnobabies deepening track–and it was perfect. I swear it was the only reason we even made it to the hospital.
We arrived at the hospital just after 11. I took about three steps out of the car and was slammed with my strongest contraction yet. It brought me to all fours in the parking garage. Quite a sight, I am sure! After I got through it, we made it to the stairs/elevator. Never one to pass up the stairs, I opted for the elevator & we made it to the right floor. I had another terribly strong contraction in the skyway and was able to get to l&d after I made it through. I remember walking through the doors & looking at my husband and whispering “just tell me it’s okay to use drugs if I need them” and I remember him laughing and saying something like “you don’t need them…you can do this.” & I could. I just had this fear that I’d arrive and have still made no progress–but it turns out this was likely in the heat of my “transition.” It was intense. So intense. I was on all fours getting checked into triage when my doula,Vera, arrived. I remember telling her that it was going so fast–and I couldn’t believe that I was progressing so quickly & her gentle words were so soothing: “you’ve been laboring for days, girl.” & she was right.
They had me come back & I had another contraction that brought me to the floor in the hallway. This was [allegedly] when I firmly told my husband that he was “NOT HELPING” despite his best efforts to ease my back pain. Ha! I was whisked into the bathroom with my doula to put on a gown before they’d check me in triage (as per hospital protocol). In the bathroom I had another contraction and felt like I needed to pee. The minute I sat down, I felt the urge to push & as quickly as I said that, they had me on the table in triage and confirmed I was 9 cm with very little cervix left. Whoops! Might have waited a wee bit too long at home!
I had one contraction on the table in triage after they checked me and my water broke–full of meconium. I remember having three more contractions after this. I had one in the hallway on the way to the room and had the urge to push so badly but everyone was telling me to breathe through it. HA. Tell a laboring woman not to push. Let me assure you. That just cannot happen. I did my best.
By the time we got in the room I heard them call for the doctor and the NICU team and I had my second to last contraction. I had to push, they told me not to–as there was no doctor–except my husband & he hadn’t delivered a baby in years! I tried my best not to push, but of course I did. It cannot be stopped. The on-call doctor ran into the room & put on his gown and seconds later I was having another contraction–and I felt the “ring of fire” as they call it and then I felt a huge pressure release as I could feel the baby move through all at once. My husband whispered into my ear “it’s a boy.” and the rest is a glowy mess of emotions. After 20 minutes and 8ish contractions at the hospital…at 11:34pm on 2.22.12 (his due date!) Thomas Everett Percival arrived. Our family was here. We were complete. Nothing else mattered.
& because I have edited less than a dozen pictures in photoshop since his birth–here’s life through the instagram lens of my iPhone–which is pretty much all I have time for right now!
Due to the speed of it all, I did tear again. Not the extent of my last tear, but I am still recovering. My tailbone was not feeling great at first, but it is not as bad as I thought it would be. Certainly not as bad as last time. My hope is that my body went through this labor in such a natural way that the bone fragment that led to the recommendation for an elective c-section just shifted out of the way & is in a better place now. Who knows. All I know is that it really isn’t a problem. & that makes me happy.
I’m going to put together another article (eventually) on how I successfully prepared for a natural, drug-free childbirth. But the short answer is: I was in a really good mental place. I read Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth (a must read) and used Hypnobabies for my preparation. I don’t like to over complicate–so those two tools were pretty much it. I firmly believe that pain is mental–it will only hurt as bad as you think it will hurt–and I can honestly tell you I thought it was going to be more painful. Hence, the almost-too-late trip to the hospital. The worst part was the tear repair after delivery. But my doula insisted my baby be on my chest for that, so I got to stare (and fall in love with him) during the pain. Which somehow made it ok. I mean…those lips are so delicious…who could focus on anything else?
Now…off to figure out this mother of two thing. Going from zero to one was cake. One to two? OOF. Holy challenging.
& just for good measure–my absolute favorite image from 2.22.12. It pretty much needs no words.
(photo credit: my awesome doula, Vera!)
If you are contemplating, or preparing for a natural childbirth–let me assure you–it is an amazing experience.
The highlight of my life so far. :)