Last Monday, October 13th, 2014 at 10:06am, our little daughter Ida was born.
If you’re not into reading about less than glamorous body stuff then skip this. I write about natural birthing so that women considering it will have a resource. It’s hard to find many natural birthing stories, at least in this country and I wished I had been able to find more before my first natural birth. I’ll leave out a lot that isn’t relevant to natural birthing but still, read at your own risk:)
It all started in the evening of Saturday the 11th. I started having some early labor sort of contractions that were more the Braxton Hicks but definitely not the real deal. The contractions kept me up all night and dissipated around 5:30am leaving me a bit exhausted. However, I figured it’d still be a good idea to go ahead and go to church in the morning.
Church went fine and during Sunday afternoon I started feeling more contractions. They were painful in my back and I began to realize back labor was in the cards again for me. Eli’s labor was all back as well and it wasn’t pleasant. The difference between regular labor contractions and back labor is that instead of the pressure/pain being in the belly and pushing straight down towards the birth canal, it’s a sharper pain and pressure in the tail bone. Normal contraction pain doesn’t have a sharp pain, it’s more of a dull pain with lots of uncomfortable pressure. Back labor keeps you on your feet since sitting or laying down with a throbbing tail bone is just ludicrous. Working through back labor contractions means standing, leaning or hanging off something and moving your body to help open the pelvis.
As the evening progressed I had irregular, real labor, contractions. I decided not to stay up and see if they turned into anything and instead I went to bed. I don’t know what time it was but Avery came running into our room and jumped in next to me. He said ‘Mommy, I just want to snuggle with you, with a blanket on.’ It was the sweetest thing and I held on tight to him knowing it’d be the last time he’d be able to snuggle before baby came.
By 3:30 my contractions were intense enough that I couldn’t handle laying next to Avery anymore so I had Shane put him back to bed and I got up to move around and work through contractions. I let Shane know I was in labor and he didn’t believe me. His first response was ‘Are you sure?’ Uh yeah, I’m pretty sure. It’s understandable considering this was Ida’s actual due date and both the boys were about a week past their’s.
We called grandma to come hang with the boys and I called the midwife to let her know I’d be coming in to the birth center soon. She listened to me go through some contractions and told me when to come in.
I chose to birth at a free standing birthing center this time so that I don’t have to deal with hospital procedures or fight interventions like we did with my last two natural births. The birthing center is capable of handling all issues except surgery and with a 1% transfer rate, I felt comfortable that they could handle whatever happened during my labor. I went through all my prenatal care with them and love their mentality and natural methods. My one issue with the way this particular center runs is that there is a pool of five midwives that work on a rotation so whoever is on call when you go into labor, is your midwife for the birth and though I meshed amazingly with most all of them I happened to get one for my labor that I didn’t click with personally. It made labor harder for me since I felt like I was fighting the urge to yell at her constantly….or not really fighting the urge.
When we arrived at the center they checked me and I was dilated 3cm. Normally, that would be discouraging, but we had purposefully gone into the center early in my labor because I tested positive for Group B Strep and needed a dose of antibiotics. I wanted to get that out of the way so I could be free of the IV. She also felt the position of the baby and then wanted to do a quick ultrasound to confirm that Ida was in the ‘sunny side up’ position….ergo the back labor. A baby normally comes down the birth canal with their face to the mother’s spine. This baby position works for optimum ease of navigating out of the mother’s body. Face up position means the back of the baby’s head will press along the spine as it descends to the birth canal and that causes a lot of discomfort.
I was really feeling the contractions at this point but also felt so much more freedom of movement this labor because of the back labor experience I had with Eli. Before we even got into the room I asked them to fill the tub (every room has a nice Jacuzzi tub) I moved through each contraction and they slowly moved around me, filling the tub, putting in the IV, hooking me up to the antibiotics, etc.
I tried a few laying positions to get her to spin around but none of them worked. After soaking for a while in the tub and coming back out I started to feel the urge to push. I definitely felt most comfortable on my hands and knees like with Eli’s labor but I wasn’t fully dilated yet so my midwife wanted to try a few different positions to get me there.
I continued to want to push and felt VERY uncomfortable in every other position. My cervix was in the wrong position because of her head being face up and the midwife continually tried to pull it out of the way while I pushed in different positions but I hated that sooooooo much and I think I may or may not have been a bit vocal. She also kept wanting to put me in a sitting position so it’d be easier for her to do this. I found that to be incredibly painful and yet she was so insistent that I kept trying it. Other positions that felt better were side laying (I was able to fall asleep between contractions due to the super comfy bed, score!) and of course hands and knees. They put a peanut shaped birthing ball on the bed for me to use in different positions and finally, against the midwife’s advice, I rolled myself over the ball to do hands and knees. Her constant attempts to mess with me (monitor baby heartbeat, stick her hand up to push aside the cervix, etc) made me super angry and I kept yelling at her not to touch me while Shane was trying hard not to freak out. I’d been pushing and changing positions for two and a half hours at this point. Shane had been my saving grace through all the position changes. Encouraging, assisting and listening to me cry every time I gave up (probably like six times when each position failed to work for me). Finally when I moved over the peanut shaped birthing ball I knew things were working. I didn’t want the midwife to mess with me so I kept quiet on the progress I felt in me and she basically started freaking out about baby, about me and I just kept plugging along. I hated her for freaking out though because it made Shane really scared. I could feel Ida’s head in the birth canal and was surprised when she couldn’t tell that I was so close. In fact, she kept insisting I change position so she could check baby and saying things like ‘I’m worried about baby! We can’t hear her!’ and in my mind I was thinking ‘Idiot! You can’t feel her because she’s not where you think she is!’ I think I yelled unintelligent things like ‘How can you not see her about to come out?!!?!?’ really loudly but she didn’t get it. After a few more pushes though, Ida was out….on the bed. The nurse and midwife were so surprised they didn’t even catch her. It should be noted this was the youngest, most novice midwife on staff which is one reason why I didn’t want her to deliver my baby but she also has a personality that I am not compatible with and I think that’s the real reason we didn’t communicate well during labor.
All said and done it took me three hours to push Ida out. The labor itself was only six and a half hours. It felt like an eternity. It hurt like a bitch. It was by far my hardest delivery. Both my other labors were worse but I only pushed for fifteen minutes or so with them and that made them less intense. The three hours before pushing during this labor, even with it being in my back, was easier. Pushing is exhausting.
Ida was perfect though. She rang in at 8lbs 14oz! My biggest baby and she came out face up despite all our attempts at flipping her around. Ten fingers, ten toes, a beautiful face, strong body and tiny baby cry. I was in love at first sight.
The first delivery that I cried and I think it was because I had to work so freaking hard to get her out.
She looks so little, but let me tell you, pushing that out was NOT easy at all.
The birthing center was an awesome place to deliver though. The cozy bed, the tub, the view.
Yes, that’s the view from my room.
They also baked me a chocolate cake and the whole staff came and sang happy birthday. Which was amazing.
After I was sewn up (sunny side up definitely causes worse tearing) and cleaned up, we were ready to go. I felt this way after my last birth but at the hospital they made us stay for days. It was hard. However, the birthing center is different and we went through the check list of things that have to happen before we could be discharged and once finished, we were on our way home just four hours after birth. This is one of the biggest joys of natural birthing. Without any drugs or interventions your body is on a high of oxytocin, you have no meds in your system (or side affects of meds) and you have full control of your body. Recovery is easier.
This doesn’t mean that rest isn’t completely necessary but only that you’re not debilitated by birth. We went home, saw the boys, who had the most adorable welcome reactions, I handed Ida off to my mother in law and went straight to my bed for a nap. It was incredible. I have had a great recovery after this birth and I honestly think it’s because I was in my own home, with my own help and bed. No strangers checking me, no nurses taking my blood in the middle of the night, no being woken up a million times at night and sitting in a hospital bed for days. I could take baths in my own bathroom, nurse in a comfortable chair, have my husband help, have family help, have friends bring food and it has been incredible.
The birth center sent post partum nurses to our home 24hr and 48hrs after the birth to check on us and we went in for a check up after five days. I’ll be going back after two weeks to get checked again, specifically make sure I’m not struggling with post partum depression which tends to set in during the massive hormone change two weeks after birth. Finally, I’ll go in for my six week check. This amount of care has been really amazing. I’ve always thought it was so harsh that with normal post partum care in this country you have your baby and they basically say ‘see you in six weeks! Hope you can handle it.’
I’m a week post partum now and it’s been by far my best and easiest recovery. Partially because of my prenatal care and partially because of my post partum care. The natural approach to birthing that the center uses applies to prenatal care and a few things I implemented per their advice during pregnancy helped me so much after giving birth. I plan on doing a dedicated post about what I did differently with prenatal and post partum care this pregnancy.
The main thing though is just allowing myself to rest, in my own home, with people I love.
For now, I’m going to enjoy my larger family, feel blessed by all the friends bringing us food, and snuggle my new baby. It’s been an incredible transition.