by Stephanie, USA
My son Eliseo was born on June 8, 2009, naturally! I am honored to be added to the ranks of women who have delivered naturally, because, honestly, I didn't think I could do it. I began to consider natural birth when my niece was born. My sister-in-law had thought that she would give birth without the assistance of drugs, but when the day came she was completely shocked by the birthing experience and ended up with an epidural and episiotomy at the hospital. I decided then that I didn't want to be scared when I had a baby, but as prepared as possible.
I became pregnant in September of 2008 and set up an appointment at my regular OB/GYN's office. My husband and I left our first appointment with their CNM a little discouraged. I asked her if they would support me if I wanted to have a natural birth, and she looked at me and said something like “Our office strongly encourages you to take into account ALL your pain relief options before you would decide to do something like that. As a first time mother you don't know how bad the pain is.”
Thanks to the Lord, we have a Birth Center in Tucson, so I promptly called them to set up my next appointment. I was very encouraged by their philosophy and attitude and felt empowered that they considered me intelligent enough to make my own decisions about the birth of my child. Throughout my pregnancy I wondered if I could really give birth at the birth center without the aid of drugs, as the only other person I knew personally that had given birth naturally was my own mother.
One Sunday afternoon I had arrived (finally) at 39 weeks. My husband and I enjoyed a cookout with our family after church, and we all jumped in the pool for about an hour. That was probably the most pleasant (and the most) exercise I did during my pregnancy. That evening I noticed that I felt a little crampy, and I attributed it to being sore from my swim.
We went to bed at 9:00pm, and I woke up at 10:30 feeling little crampy twinges in my low abdomen. I was able to fall back to sleep until midnight, when I felt those twinges continue. One would hit about every ten minutes or so. I thought, “Gosh, this is different. I haven't felt this before.” I thought that maybe these were Braxton Hicks, which I had experienced none of previously, and I tried to go back to sleep but became too uncomfortable.
I decided I might as well get up and finish getting my stuff together, just in case. There was some laundry I needed to transfer to the dryer. I also let the dogs out, and pittered around until around 3:00am. I was noticing that what I decided were contractions were coming a little more often and they were starting to hurt so that I had to stop what I was doing to breath through them. I noticed if I was sitting down when one hit I HAD to stand up…much more comfortable for me.
My husband lumbered out of our room, looking surprised that I was awake. I told him that I thought I was probably in early labor, so he started assembling his suitcase and burning CD's for the labor room. I took an uncomfortable shower, and when I got out Alberto decided he'd time my contractions. He looked at me and said, “They are 4 minutes apart!” I argued that they couldn't be, but they were, and about 30 seconds long.
We decided to call the midwife. I talked to her for about 7 minutes and of course, it took me until the end of the conversation to have a contraction. She said I sounded a little too happy (I was just keyed up) to be ready quite ready to come in, and to call back when the contractions were lasting 45-60 seconds every 4 minutes.
I met these requirements within an hour, if not less, so I called back and told Judy, the midwife, that we'd like to come on in if it was okay so that we could avoid morning rush hour traffic. We headed across town to the Birth Center and arrived 25 minutes later at about 6:00pm, after a quite uncomfortable drive, since I had to sit while riding in the car. My contractions seemed to slow down a little when we walked in. We waited in the waiting room for 10 or 20 minutes while they finished cleaning the labor room. I chatted with the midwife and the nurse for a few minutes, sure they were going to send me home.
Finally I laid down on the bed and Judy checked me. As she did, she said, “You are going to be SOOO happy!” I wondered why, since being checked didn't feel so good. Well, I was SEVEN centimeters dilated already! That scared me to death: I thought it would be longer before I actually had to push the baby out.
Judy helped Alberto and I find a good position to manage the contractions. I had to stand up and hold on to his neck during every contraction. I did try getting into the tub for a little while, but I got way too hot (Arizona in June) and couldn't get comfortable, so I got out. I had been constipated all week, and I kept feeling like I needed to poop, but any time I tried to go to the bathroom I couldn't have a bowel movement.
Judy left and CeCe, the midwife who delivered Eliseo, took over, as well as our nurse, Judy. They left Alberto & I to labor in the room by ourselves. I started to feel something different about my contractions. I didn't really feel like I needed to bear down, but I did feel a different sort of pain that was more active. I told Alberto to go find CeCe because I thought it might be time to push but I didn't know if I was dilated enough. I was new at this…I didn't really want to push without some direction and encouragement anyway!
CeCe came back in to check me. She said, “You're clear!” meaning that I was fully dilated and could push. I writhed around on the bed through a contraction, SO uncomfortable because I was lying down. I remember whimpering to Alberto that it hurt so bad! I am pretty sure that was my transition, because I felt like I couldn't go on. Once I stood up, I tried to push but decided I couldn't do it standing up because I was so tired.
Judy and CeCe helped me get on my hands and knees on the bed. I draped my arms over an exercise ball so that I didn't have to use any strength holding my weight up. From there CeCe and Judy helped me get into a pushing rythym and encouraged me to relax and not to be afraid of the pain. I found relaxing to be pretty difficult.
I heard the music of Rich Mullins and Fernando Ortega playing in the background, music which had inspired me over the last few years and had helped to navigate me through engagement, marriage, and pregnancy. At some point I asked how much longer this was going to last. I hadn't expected pushing to take so long! Right after that the midwife said, “Look at that hair!” My husband confirmed that he could see some dark hair sticking out, although the head had not crowned yet. At that point I felt encouraged. This would soon be over and I'd actually see that little guy I had been wondering about for so long.
I pushed several more times and felt his head crown. This was the worst part and quite painful. His head was half way out when the contraction was over, and I had to wait for the next one like that. I really made the next push count with a last burst of energy and got his head out, then waited for one more contraction, and his body slid right out.
I knew Eliseo was out and tried to find him. CeCe and Judy placed him under me (I was still on my hands and knees), and I took my first look at my son. I thought he looked just like his dad! They helped me lay down and put Eliseo right beside me against my skin.
The placenta came out about five minutes later, and unfortunately I continued to bleed. Judy kneaded my uterus…ouch…and another nurse tried to get my IV going again. The person who had tied it off earlier had done it incorrectly, so this took a while. They injected my thighs with pitocin, which was not enough to stop the bleeding, so they gave me pitocin and some other medication through the IV and finally stopped the bleeding.
Then CeCe began to repair my second degree tear. Although she had numbed the area with anesthetic, I thought, “This is why women want epidurals!” I expected all the pain to be over once the baby was out, so the aftermath was a bit unpleasant. During all this my mother-in-law and my mentor and dear friend, Claire, were helping Alberto with the baby.
Eliseo was born at 9:30AM, weighed exactly 7 pounds, and was 18.5 inches long. Many friends and family members came to visit that day, and we went home that night around 10:00PM. What a beautiful boy and an amazing journey! I thank the Lord for all he has done for me, and for my son.