Natural Birth Stories
If you want to read more natural birth stories, check out my daughters’ natural birth stories here and here.
And my third daughter’s birth story, a homebirth in the hospital, is a good natural birth story too.
I had always imagined that I would go “overdue” with this baby (in fact, I said that he would be born on July 1st, almost two weeks after his due date), but now I was experiencing what it meant to go overdue. I felt like I would never experience true labor, but I would keep Braxton Hicks-ing it away. I had read other natural birth stories and I knew other moms felt just like me. I wouldn’t be pregnant forever!
This photo was taken one day before Gabriel was born. My belly wass HUGE! It looks like a torpedo because it’s so OUT there. I was not in the best of moods when I took this photo. I just had my midwife strip my membranes and I was SO crampy. I was constantly having contractions and everything felt so tight. I decided to stop by work to turn in my parking decal before I went home and I caught a glimpse of myself in the window. Little did I know I would be holding my little one the very next day. I thought I was going to have to wait till I was 41 weeks!
My maternity leave had started on June 19th, so I had my week of rest exactly as I had wished. Now, I was ready for this baby to come. There were a few things left undone in my house, but I was so tired and could hardly stay on my feet for long so I told this baby he was free to come out. I remember baking some muffins from the Once A Month Meals website on Tuesday and my feet and ankles were SO swollen. I was ready.
On June 24th, I had my 40 week prenatal visit with Layla, my midwife, at the Birth Cottage. My appointment was at 11 am and I planned to ask her to strip my membranes. I thought that it couldn’t hurt anything, and if it didn’t work – no loss. I was already dilated to about 3-4 cm and after Layla stripped my membranes I was about 4-5 cm.
This was pretty uncomfortable to say the least, but I was willing to bear the pain if it would jump start my labor. Everything else at my appointment was normal and on my way out I made three more appointments for the following week for when I would be 41 weeks.
After my appointment I had made plans to meet my friend Denise for lunch at my favorite spot, Brueggers. We ate some good food, and she commiserated with me as she had been through the same thing 9 months ago.
As usual after having a vaginal exam (or membrane sweep!) my Braxton Hicks contractions felt pretty intense and I thought going for a walk would further help my cause. So after eating, Denise joined me for a stroll at the mall.
The rest of the day went on as normal. I came home, rested a bit, and ate a little food. Matt came home from work around 5 pm and his brother, Ian hung out with him for a bit. I felt desperate to vacuum the living room and mop the kitchen floor, but I was way too exhausted. After hanging out with my hubby for awhile, I went to bed around 11 pm and I told him that I wouldn’t be surprised if these never ending Braxton Hicks got stronger and turned into the real thing.
I woke up at 2 am from some light contractions. They were coming at the same frequency as my BH’s but I couldn’t go back to sleep. I got up and went to the study/guest room to try to get comfortable without waking up Matt.
These early labor contractions were getting more intense and they were KILLING my back. I started using a heating pad and leaned on my birth ball while timing them. After awhile, I went back to bed and dozed between contractions, but would wake up with normal contraction cramping and back pain. Little did I know there was a lot more of the back labor to come!
Around 7 am I woke up Matt and told him I thought I was in early labor and we decided that he shouldn’t go to work. So we hung out in the study throughout the morning while I tried to rest and make up for my lack of sleep from the previous night.
I ate a lot of carbs, Matt timed and also helped me through contractions. It was a good morning. Once or twice we went for walks to see if things would intensify, and they never did. If anything, my contractions seemed to be less intense when walking but as soon as I got home from the walk and laid down again, my contractions would pick up.
I called Layla around 9 am ish to tell her I *thought* I might be in labor, but I wasn’t really sure. This was kinda funny to me since I thought it would be obvious since I am a doula. Just goes to show you, birth will keep you on your toes! Layla suggested taking a Benadryl which would stop any false labor but would help me rest if it was the real deal. I tried it, and it did nothing, so we later concluded I was in labor.
Another thing that threw me off was that I felt completely, and totally normal – especially between contractions. This continued all morning, and well into the afternoon. Matt seemed a tad nervous and asked if we needed to go to the Birth Cottage a few times, but I told him I knew what it looked like when someone was in labor and I wasn’t quite there yet.
The morning with Matt was very restful and I think it gave us a lot of time to slowly prepare for this birth. Around 1 pm or so I called Layla again and told her that I wanted to come in and get checked and if I wasn’t dilated any more that I would just go to the mall and walk. If I was dilated I would just stay put. She was visiting a post partum client and wouldn’t be back to the Birth Cottage until around 4 or so. Around 3:30 pm I had had enough and was dealing with more intense contractions. I remember breathing through one in our kitchen while leaning on Matt. It was definitely more intense and it made me cry – more so because the whole situation was emotional not because the pain was unbearable.
Since Matt had been getting all our stuff together all morning long, we grabbed only a couple things and got out of the house pretty quickly. The last thing I did before I left was put some eye makeup on. Hahahaha – what a joke.
The 45 minute drive to the Birth Cottage was very annoying. Between construction delays and drivers that made us break and turn, I couldn’t wait to get out of the car. While on the way and between contractions I called my brother, Brett, and told him I was in labor and that he had to call and update the rest of my family.
Once I got out of the car I walked in the Birth Cottage and met Layla who had got there a few minutes earlier. I got checked and I was about 5-6 cm dilated. Wooohoo! We’re having a baby!
Layla pretty much left us alone and Matt helped me through contractions and between contractions he unloaded the car and brought all our stuff in. For awhile I leaned on the birth ball and moaned through contractions and between contractions I tried to stay hydrated and ate watermelon.
I remember walking to the bathroom a couple of times and Matt’s phone kept ringing – it was my mother. Eventually, between contractions I told her that we’re not calling anybody and that we’ll update her when she needs to know. I didn’t have time to say bye before another contraction came and I moaned through it. My mom got to hear me go through a contraction and I think she got the picture. She didn’t call Matt after that.
Eventually I decided to try the tub so Matt started filling it up and I got it. It was heaven to feel the hot water on my back. I really liked it. I was on all fours in the water since I thought it would help baby get in a better position and relieve my back pain, and I almost felt like completely submerging myself. I did a few times and I knew my makeup was off. When having a contraction in the water, I was a little disappointed that it didn’t relieve any of my pain. All it did was distract me, but the crazy back pain was still there.
While all this was going on Missy, the Birth Assistant, kept monitoring baby’s heart rate and noticed that it was a little elevated. They started monitoring it every 15 or so minutes because it was in the 170s – too high!
I got out of the tub and went to my birth room and laid down for awhile. I had the fan on high because I was overheated and we thought that Gabriel was overheated too. Turns out we were right because when I got cooled down his heart rate went back to normal.
For those reading this I suggest using a thermometer like this one so someone can monitor the temperature of the water and keep mom/baby safe.
I stayed on the bed for awhile and my contractions spaced out a little bit. Matt dozed a bit between contractions and I did too. It was a nice break! I remember hearing Matt express his concern to someone that my contractions spaced out and as soon as he said that they started back up again in full force.
My memory starts to get a bit hazy at this point. I remember getting up to go to the bathroom a lot, I remember having 50,000 contractions going to/from/and while on the toilet. These contractions were taking my total and complete concentration.
The back labor was extremely intense and I needed Matt through every contraction. The contractions were coming very close now and Matt hardly had a break. During contractions I was leaning my whole weight on Matt while trying to breathe. I remember thinking that I just had to get through the first bit of the contraction which was the worst part and after that I could totally cope.
I also remember breathing short fast breaths at an imaginary target/bulls eye in my mind. It helped. I stood for a lot of my contractions, not wanting to move much as that made me have more contractions.
Throughout most of my labor I was listening to Watermark’s Purest Place CD. It made me feel so at home and so loved although I’m sure it made my birth crew a bit irritated as I had the whole CD repeating over and over and over.
At some point Layla checked me again per my request and I was a little bit more dilated (7-8 cm or so, it’s a little foggy at this point) and baby still wasn’t lined up correctly to come down the chute. She suggested I lay on the bed on my side but belly leaning into the bed with one leg bent up.
Let me just tell you that coping through these contractions on the bed in this position SUCKED. I stayed that way for about 30 minutes grabbing onto the rails of the bed during contractions. I hated this position, but I sucked it up so baby would get into a better position. I guess it worked because after I walked around for a little bit after that and got checked again I was 8-9 cm dilated and baby was ready to go. I told Layla to break my bag of waters so we could get this thing done.
Having my amniotic sack break was the weirdest feeling. Warm fluid gushed out on the bed. Layla told me that the next contraction would be really intense – which totally caught me off guard. I knew things would get more intense, but I didn’t really think that through before she broke my water. I stood up for the next contractions and walked in the bathroom again with Matt. Things were definitely more intense – so intense that the contractions didn’t seem to stop.
While leaning on Matt I’m pretty sure I told him that I couldn’t do it anymore, to which he replied, I was doing it. I remember thinking some time during my labor that I would never have bothered with any drug pain relief. I thought that it would have totally messed me up in my head and it would throw me off so I couldn’t cope. I was coping just fine on my own.
About 20 minutes or so of these crazy intense contractions I felt the urge to push. It felt different than I thought it would, but I’m not sure what I thought it would feel like. During the next contraction I didn’t feel the pushy feeling, but the ones after that I felt it every time.
The most disappointing thing about pushing for me was that my back labor didn’t go away and it got even more intense whenever the baby slipped back inside after pushing him out.
The most intriguing part of pushing for me was that I could control how much I would push and I could add more pushes and energy into the pushes I was already doing. This may seem like a “duh” thing, but it was amazing how that felt. I pushed standing for awhile (which totally rocked my body), and when my feet got tired I pushed on all fours. I remember that every time I pushed more and more amniotic fluid came out – it seemed to never end!
After pushing on all fours for a long time, I got tired again and Layla suggested the side lying position on the bed. It sounded good to me to lie down, however, getting on the bed was quite another story. I would walk up to the bed and slightly raise my leg to get on the bed, but it was SO difficult with a baby’s head between my legs. After a few contractions of me staring at the bed trying to get on it, Matt lifted my leg up and semi-hoisted me up on the bed. It was so painful to move around like that, but it sure was nice to get some rest.
I guess when I started pushing again I wasn’t lifting my top leg high enough (it HURT!) because after awhile of pushing and not opening up enough Layla pushed my top leg up and Matt kept it up there for me because between contractions it hurt too much to put it down. At one point I asked Missy to take a picture of him coming out so I could see how far he was out. She did it and showed me and I was shocked at how far he was out and I didn’t even realize it! She also told me just to look down and I would see him. Whoa, was that mind blowing!
I was pushing with all I had and I remember Matt telling me that if I just pushed a little bit more then he would come out. That was pretty encouraging to me because I didn’t realize he was that far out of me – almost crowning! Two pushes after he told me this I felt the ring of fire (which I thought wasn’t that horrible) and pushed his head out. Matt said that Gabriel was turning his head back and forth trying to get out. Next, I was trying to push the rest of his body out but he wasn’t budging and I lost the pushing force for some reason. Since he was a bit stuck, Layla took over and pulled the rest of him out. I think I felt myself tear at that point (very odd feeling).
Two hours after my water bag was broken, I pushed Gabriel into this world into his Daddy and Layla’s hands. He was born at 11:48 pm on June 25th 2009 and weighed in at 8 pounds 8 ounces and was 21 inches long.
Layla placed him on my belly and while she was trying to get him to breathe I remember distinctly that he was so warm and wet and BIG! What a beautiful baby! I was so in shock and in awe that I forgot to even talk to him to help him get breathing. He pinked up pretty quick and let the world know that he was here.
Gabriel’s birth was incredible. It was the hardest thing I have ever done – mentally and physically – and the most mind-blowing experience I’ve ever had. I literally could not have done it without Matt, my sweet husband and rock star birth coach. He helped me through EVERY contraction, held my weight during EVERY contraction, and kept me going when it got really hard. He was there for me at every turn and I just love the fact that he was there, catching his son into this world.
Gabe has had such a sweet, mellow personality from the beginning. He has always been easily soothed and breastfeeding clicked immediately which has been such a blessing. We are so in love with him and can’t wait to see what God has in store for our little man. Praise God for entrusting us with such a wonderful blessing.
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