by Erin, USA
It seemed natural for me to plan a natural birth with my daughter and, later, my son.
The labor and birth of my daughter, Taylor, was pretty fast-paced, considering it was my first pregnancy. On a Thursday, which was one day after my due date, a midwife stripped my membranes during a scheduled check-up.
On Friday I unexpectedly had a nesting urge (I thought it was a myth but it wasn't fake for me after I reflected later on this happening) and really had the need to clean out (and line with contact paper, and organize) some lower kitchen cabinets, squatting and reaching abounding.
Saturday morning, I awoke around 3 A.M. to use the restroom. Once sitting on the commode, I felt a little stiff in my back and was in a small bit of discomfort from what I thought a BM. Sleepily and with my eyes rested closed, I stretched my torso and neck, and arched my spine because it felt nice. In that same motion, to my surprise, my water broke on the toilet during that apparent contraction. THAT woke me up! I checked the clock and it was 3:15 A.M. I called my midwife promptly and arrived at the hospital around 5:30 A.M. to get an IV of antibiotics because I had tested positive for GBS (Group B Strep) some weeks prior; I was about 3 cm dilated.
Labor went along well. Matt, (Taylor's dad), Matt's mom and my mom were in the L & D hospital room and they did their best to help soothe and encourage me. I labored laying on my sides for the most part, enjoying the rests between contractions. My eyes were closed for the most part during contractions. I was 10 cm dilated at about 9 A.M. and my body was bearing down. After some contractions, adorable Taylor was born at 9:38 A.M. with her big baby newborn-dark-blue eyes wide open. She was 6 pounds, 12 ounces and 18.5 inches long: a delicate but solid little girl! Seconds later at my breast, she latched easily and locked eyes with me- that was one of the most intense moments of my life!
The birth of Luke was a miracle and beautiful work of The Lord! I went into labor at about 10:30 P.M. on a Sunday. I rested but I felt that Luke was coming faster than he turned out to arrive at. Still, I tried to sleep, and was being woken up by contractions at about 20-minute intervals. I began praying hard for God to take away the pain, even though I was only experiencing some discomfort. I was fearful. By the way, my labor with Taylor was painful, but I think it was largely because I was tense and scared while in labor with her.
Second time around (my second child and second labor, that is), I clung to God and was determined to help myself by being calm and depending on God to give me that strength to do so! I read the Bible (I think I started in Hebrews) and, in between, stared at an artist's impression of Jesus Christ on a small 2″x 4″ card I have. I prayed desperately to Jesus and let Him do His mighty work.
Monday, by 1:30 A.M. I was in a hot bath, as my mom recommended prior. I was joyously overwhelmed with the wonderful relief of the water in the tub! I praised God silently and Jesus conquered my fears and anxiety about the soon future (which included somehow conjuring up the ability to accept leaving the hot bath to go to the hospital)! (LOL!) Between prayer to Jesus, reading His Word, repeating the word “calm” over and over (at any and all speeds- faster in desperation), and controlled breathing, labor was fantastic. I felt thoroughly renewed as it progressed.
From about 1:30 to 6 A.M., I took about 3 hot baths (I would shiver in semi-warm water) with my aforementioned remedy. God did all the work, honestly. I had the Bible in the bathroom and really hardly noticed my contractions. Perhaps being in water slowed the labor, but that's fine because the bottom line, for me, was that it helped ease my body in labor! Jesus came to take away all sin and hurt (and more), and, so, then, The Holy Spirit within assured me Jesus can take away labor pain!
I was GBS negative with Luke (Praise the Lord), so I knew the hospital could wait since I didn't need antibiotics. I initially called the same midwives group (I had with Taylor) when contractions were about 10 or maybe less minutes apart. I left my house when the contractions 5 minutes apart. I felt Luke coming down more while at home and in the car on the way to the hospital.
I packed my Bible but did not read it until after Luke was born. I prayed while en route and for the rest of labor. With prayer as the obvious staple (during and between contractions), I also continued to say “calm” in my head during contractions to stay calm and pressed down (and leaned sometimes) down during the contractions. I was pressing with my weight onto Taylor's (and Luke's) changing table during one I remember, when I was getting (12-months-and-3-weeks-old) Taylor's diaper bag ready; the same “technique”/natural instinct in the car with the arm rests!
When 8 A.M. arrived, I was at the hospital, praying. Matt and I were alone in the L & D with the nurse and, later, a midwife. My sister and mom visited briefly during labor. Once, when a contraction started, I asked/urged Jill to push against the bottoms of my feet while I pushed horizontally to her (I was in a regular, sitting-up position for most of the labor at the hospital). Matt did the “foot-pushing” for several other contractions, but then I calmed down and didn't really need the foot thing anymore. Matt was smiling during all the labor, and, in triage, when it was just him and me he did this silly little jaunty dance that reminded me of Mr. Peanut that made me laugh. It was a leisurely dance that was just the right dose of distraction, laughter, and love that I needed.
Then, my delivery midwife, Simone, checked in on me (for about the 4th or so time). She was there to check me, and I calmly asked her if she could wait. “Are you having a contraction?” she asked respectfully. “Yes,” I replied. It was a funny moment, looking back. Simone just watched me as I gently breathed during the contraction then asked if it was over and I said, “Yes.” She reached into me with one hand, then two, and seemed surprised. She asked me what my pain level was. I looked at the hospital pain “chart” with smiley-sort-of-faces on it, and said I could still smile during contractions (as I did when Matt was making me laugh) so I gave my pain a “2” on a scale of 0 to 10 (10 being unbearable). She sort of chuckled and told me, “Well, you're 8 centimeters dilated.” I was amazed and thanked God in silently. I told them I was praying a lot. I felt weightless and thankful to God for calming me to such an extent! I used the bathroom to go # 1 and praised God.
Next, in the delivery room, I swayed and rocked on my knees with my weight mainly shifted towards my hands and arms. During increasingly strong contractions, when exhaling, I pushed out my breaths to not bear down too soon on my cervix, God with me all the way. (I pushed for about 40 minutes I think.) Finally, at 12:46 P.M. on Monday, Luke popped out with a dark patch of soft newborn hair on his head and instantly reminded me of my own newborn baby pictures. He didn't want to nurse right away but was so sweet and solid. He weighed 7 pounds, 8 ounces and 21 inches long, and is a beautiful testimony of God's glory! Amen!
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