Violet's birth changed my life. It showed me what birth SHOULD be like and why we NEED natural birth. When I got pregnant with my son Bentley, I was 19, not (yet) married to my boyfriend, and very ignorant and naïve about the entire pregnancy and birthing process. I cancelled my gym membership immediately and took the phrase “eating for two” very literally. I had an extremely long labor that wasn't progressing, ended up taking Pitocin to “speed” things along (which actually made for a LONGER labor), got an epidural, was starving after all the time I spent in the hospital bed and felt so weak when it was time to push, had to get stitches, spent the time following his birth in a drug induced stupor and the next month really sore and waddling around. I was so traumatized I swore never to go through that again. Fast forward four years and my then boyfriend, now husband, and I found ourselves pregnant again! This time I vowed to be healthy and have an overall better pregnancy and birth. I cleaned up my diet and exercised up until I gave birth.
Although I was physically prepared to give birth, my mind was a mess. I was six months pregnant, planning on doing a water birth at the hospital, but completely terrified of giving birth and was not confident I would be able to go through with a natural water birth. Thinking about birth would literally bring me to tears. I would just bawl to my husband that I didn't want to do it.
Then, after talking to some girls from my church, my perspective was changed. I realized I prayed over all other areas of my life, why wasn't I talking to God about my fears of childbirth. I started doing tons and tons of research. I read blogs, I read books (My favorites were Supernatural Childbirth, A Christ-Centered Childbirth, and Ina May's Guide to Childbirth), I read birth stories, and I read scripture. I educated myself on the female body and the process of birth.
Once I knew what was happening biologically, I began to be able to better prepare myself spiritually. I prayed and meditated on certain verses every day leading up to my delivery. I wrote down my specific declarations for how I wanted my labor to be, and believed God for them. My list was: for my cervix to open and dilate quickly and progressively, that I would not need any medical interventions and would be able to deliver naturally in the water, that I would not have any nausea, that I wouldn't tear and require stitches, and that my doctor would be able to deliver her.
I was 39 weeks and 3 days. I was now so excited and ready to give birth! I couldn't wait to see how awesome this birth would be. I was also uncomfortable and done being pregnant. I was scheduled for my weekly prenatal check-up that morning at 11. Bentley and I made the 45-minute trek across town (I saw the only doctor in the state of Nevada who did water births in a hospital) and during my appointment I asked if they could sweep my membranes to hopefully kick start labor, when they checked for dilation. I was 2 cm dilated and 50% effaced, which I knew didn't mean much.
I got home and made lunch for me and my son and was feeling crampy, which I knew was normal and to be expected after a membrane sweep. My lower back was hurting too but I credited that to soreness from my workout the day before. At about three that afternoon, my son and I decided to take a walk because it was a rare breezy, and overcast day, instead of the normal scorching Vegas heat. We walked around outside until my husband got home and then we all headed down to the trail by our house.
I still hadn't mentioned to him at this point how I was feeling, because I thought nothing of it. When we got back to our house I got out my Bible and did some reading while bouncing on my exercise ball. By then I had been cramping for about five hours and thought that if these cramps could turn into real labor, I wanted to keep them going. I told my husband I was going to head back out do a couple more laps around the neighborhood, and asked to borrow his watch to see if these cramps were coming consistently. I enjoyed a nice peaceful walk by myself as it started to drizzle. I was timing contractions about five minutes apart.
We had some friends that lived across the street that were going to watch our son when it was show time. When I got back from my walk I asked my husband if I should let them know that I might be in labor. He told me no, let's just wait until we know for sure. I agreed and decided I was going to take a bath to see if it would help with my sore back. I was craving a smoothie and asked my husband to run out and pick me one up while I was soaking. I got out of the bath while my husband and son were still out and was timing contractions about three minutes apart.
I was having to concentrate through some of them, but they were just uncomfortable, not painful. I called my husband and told him that maybe we should leave for the hospital soon since it was so far away, since I was experiencing contractions consistently every few minutes. He was surprised, and headed back home to start loading up the car. (We brought a birthing ball, but I didn't end up using it at all). We went over to our friends to drop off our son. I also borrowed a sarong and a couple of swim suit tops and bottoms as an option for the tub.
We were on the road to the hospital sometime after 8pm. I had been nervous about laboring in the car since the drive was so long, but it wasn't bad or uncomfortable, we just listened to music and talked on the way. We had to stop about half way there so that I could use the restroom, but there was no traffic and we got to the hospital around 9:15.
At the L&D desk they had us fill out some paperwork and they would let us know when a triage room was ready. The waiting room with other people and noises was distracting and I felt like my labor was stalling. I wanted to focus on each contraction so that my labor would progress and we wouldn't be sent home. To get some peace and quiet I decided to go into the restroom to concentrate on each contraction and keep them coming strong.
As soon as I was alone my labor seemed to pick back up and the contractions got stronger and closer together. I was having to breathe through them now but just kept telling myself: this feeling is just a muscle contracting, and it doesn't have to hurt. Each contraction is bringing you closer to meeting her. You were made to do this. I kept picturing the diagrams in my books that showed how the uterus worked. If I stayed in a peaceful state of mind, my body would be able to work more efficiently and relatively painless to do its job. If I started to panic I knew my muscles would start to tighten up and work against each other.
Finally, the front desk told us they had to admit someone into triage before me, but since we had been waiting for a while they would just get us back into a delivery room and check me there. The nurse came in and checked my dilation. She told me we were staying, I was at 6cm! They set me up on the bed to monitor the baby while they started filling the tub. I was finally able to relax better in our own space. The nurse came in and said she was going to bring in a IV to give me fluids, I refused and said I would be fine, I didn't want any needles. They made me sign a paper saying I didn't want anything.
Getting in the tub was glorious and the warm water was instantly soothing. It was a little on the warm side but cold water and cool towels helped keep me from feeling overheated. At this point I was still just breathing through contractions, but handling them on my own. I remember How I Met Your Mother was on the TV and I was watching that to help distract me. A friend I invited to attend the birth got to our room around 11pm (with snacks yay!!) I hadn't eaten dinner and was starving. I had a banana, vanilla pudding, and a Luna bar to power through the rest of my labor.
The nurse came in again to check me and now I was at 7cm. The contractions started to get more intense and more frequent. I started humming and praying through each contraction, thanking God for each one because it was bringing me closer to meeting Violet. I would do this each time I would feel a contraction coming on, and begin to squeeze both my husband and friends hand. They would also sing and pray with me. Speaking my affirmations and praying my verses out load really helped me focus on what I was doing, and get through it. I knew I was in transition at this point. I had read and heard so many horror stories about shaking, throwing up, irritability. I didn't experience any of these things. I was extremely relaxed, it was otherworldly. It was amazing to me to be able to feel my baby's energy throughout my labor.
Around midnight I was at 8cm and started to feel a ton of pressure. Thirty minutes later the nurse came in and said it had almost been two hours in the tub and so they needed me to get out to monitor the baby for 20 minutes and then I could get back in. I was at 9cm at this point and the contractions were coming on top of each other. I begged her to just let me stay in the tub because I was sure I was about to give birth. She told me it was hospital policy that I had to get out at the two-hour mark. My friend and husband helped me over to the hospital bed and they hooked my belly up. My friend Sam just kept commenting on how she couldn't believe how alert I was at this point.
I started to have the strong urge to bear down with the next contractions. I began to push and my friend said she saw a head, and ran out to get the nurse. The nurse came in, and I was 10 cm and ready to go. By some miracle I got up and over to the tub. I was pushing and my baby started to come out in the sac of waters (because my water had never broken), and I reached down to grab her. The nurse was telling me to wait because the doctor needed to break my water (and he was also the only one qualified to deliver her in the water). I was squatting in the tub with my hand holding her there. In a flurry of activity my doctor rushed into the room and grabbed gloves to break my water.
In a squatting position, I gave one more strong push, and she slipped right out of me. The feeling was such a relief. The cord was wrapped twice around her neck so it was good thing that she was born under the water because she was still able to breathe through the umbilical cord until they had it unwrapped. They put her directly on my chest and covered her with a warm towel. I was so overwhelmed with happiness and pure love; it seemed bewildering to me that I had ever doubted my ability to do this. She radiated peace as she took her first breath of fresh air. My husband cut the cord after it finished draining. They got me out of the tub and onto the bed to check me while the baby was measured and weighed. She was born 6lbs 6oz and 19 inches long, the time was 1:02 am.
I can't say how long my labor was from start to finish, because in the beginning stages I hadn't even recognized I was in labor. I was only in the room at the hospital for a little under three hours before I delivered Violet since I had done most of my laboring at home. Everything on my “list” of declarations for labor came to fruition. Laboring in the water was so helpful and exactly what baby Violet and my body needed to be able to move comfortably around into the best position. My natural water birth helped me grow mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. It strengthened my relationship with my God, my husband, and my best friend who attended the birth, and Violet was brought into the world surrounded by so much peace and love.
Birth is magical and becomes a part of you forever. It gave me an incredible testimony to be able to share God's goodness. As cheesy as it sounds childbirth- an unlikely teacher- taught me so much about myself, how to control my emotions; it taught me to see things with a new perspective and changed my nature, it gave me a new appreciation for women and how unique & special our bodies are designed & how much strength & endurance we have in our innate being. I could not have dreamed of a better, more positive birth experience.