As soon as I found out I was pregnant, I began to think about the marathon of birth. I had recently been introduced to a new (yet old) way of thinking on how women give birth naturally, and that this was a beautiful event our bodies were created for.
I knew that I wanted the least amount of medical intervention, yet I was going to remain open-minded to whatever was necessary (or wanted – after all, I'd never given birth before and I didn't know exactly what I was in for!) during labor.
So began the quest for soaking up all of the natural birth stories my brain could absorb – I picked up Ina May's book, read story after story online, asked everyone I knew about their birth experience – and at the same time I found myself only listening to the positive stories. I wanted no horror stories to bleed into my blissful thoughts of a natural birth.
Now to the big D-Day: I woke from a nap a little after 11pm, felt some cramps in my lower abdomen (likened to mid period cramps) got up to go to the bathroom, was walking back to the couch and felt something interesting… it wasn't a gush, but I definitely knew I wasn't peeing my pants! My water had broken.
As I sat there on the toilet, with cell phone in hand, I gathered my thoughts. “First, call Bobby” I had to coach myself out load.
My husband had just gone into work. I called him and told him it was ‘time.' I then sent a mass text to my girls to get the prayer chain started because I was gonna need it!
I showered up – only feeling some minor cramping at this point – and put on my ‘going-to-the-hospital outfit.' My husband came home and we began putting the remaining items in our hospital bags.
Cramping was getting a little stronger at this point. I tried to lie on the couch and fall asleep to one of my favorite movies (Dark Knight), but those darn cramps were getting in the way.
After consulting my friend, who is a labor and deliver nurse, she told me to take a bath and if the cramping was worse, I should give my midwife a call and we should head into the hospital.
Well, the bath felt great, but when I got out 30 minutes later, the contractions were picking up in intensity. The frequency and time between the contractions had always been consistent at about 3-5 minutes apart since my water broke.
I made the phone call to my midwife and she said she would give the hospital a heads-up that we would be coming in. It was about 4am when we finally headed to the hospital. I knew it was time to go when I was on the phone with my mom and I had to pause our conversation to breathe through one of the contractions. I was prepared for the 15-minute car ride with my soothing Sarah McLaughlin Christmas playlist.
As I was getting settled into the hospital room I actually had a reprieve from my contraction pain for about 45 minutes (or maybe I was just distracted).
I had hoped to have a water birth, but this night would end up being one of the busiest birthing nights of the year, so the water birth would have to be postponed.
For the next 5 hours, I oscillated from walking the hallways and soaking in the bathtub. I remember trying not to think ahead to the next contraction, but just staying focused on the one of the moment.
Our hospital had a volunteer doula that helped me stay in the moment and also helped teach Bobby different techniques to get me through the contractions. My favorite husband technique was when he would put pressure on my hips by squeezing them together with each contraction. It took the edge off of my back labor.
After a series of really tough contractions, I sat down with my midwife and had a heart-to-heart. “So, tell me about these pain meds. What are my options?”
I just needed to talk about it, and sort of get it off my chest, then go back to the work at hand. I needed to hear from her how the medications would affect my baby, and that seemed to speak to me the most. I was able to endure some more after each of those talks.
Back in the tub and coming up on 10am, my midwife checks to see how dilated I am – 9.5cm! I couldn't believe it. That news gave me the encouragement to bring this labor thing home.
Now on my hands and knees, I started to push while still in the tub. I took a sip of cool water and tried to relax for 15 seconds until the next one came along.
Over an hour of pushing in the tub, my midwife told me to try sitting on the toilet in hopes that gravity would help. I realized I was nervous to endure the pain of his head coming out (the so called ‘ring of fire' sensation) so my pushing was about 85% up until I was just ready to be done.
After 45 minutes of pushing on the toilet I gave it all I had (groans and all) and pushed that little sucker out. As soon as he came out, the pain went away.
Tyson was born at 11:28am (exactly 12 hours from when my water broke) and he weighed in at 7lbs 2 oz.
Ty had kangaroo care with Bobby, and then he went straight to breastfeeding. Our first attempts were very clumsy, but we eventually figured it out.
I spent several hours with Ty before they even took his measurements. We also hopped in the tub together for his first bath. That was an incredible bonding experience. I continue to gain strength from my birthing experience and can honestly say I'm looking forward to doing it again!
(NOTE: Want Real Mom Tested Techniques for Handling Labor Pain? Use these 11 proven natural childbirth techniques to handle labor and keep things moving right along. Get them here.)