A Natural Hospital Birth; It’s Possible!!

Another one of my clients wanted to share her story, LOVE IT!!

On Thursday, February 28th, 3 days before my due date, I began having contractions in the evening.  They were 15 minutes apart and my husband and I were excited that things could be beginning.  Knowing first time moms can have a long labor, we settled in for the long haul and tried to get some sleep.  By morning the contractions were 9 minutes apart, but by noon on Friday things had completely stalled out.  Over the next week we tried walking miles daily, eating spicy foods, and many other old wives tales for starting labor.

March 3rd came and went with no sign of baby coming anytime soon.  On March 10th my OB sent us to L&D for a non-stress test and biophysical profile to make sure things were still good with the baby so I could continue being pregnant, since I didn’t want to be induced yet.  The nurse assured me I wasn’t in labor as there was only mild “uterine irritability” showing on the exams.  The ultrasound was interesting as the tech kept waiting for the baby to flex and extend fingers or an extremity.  She was not cooperating at all and the tech was writing “non-responsive baby” on the screen, making us nervous.  Turns out the baby was just sleeping soundly preparing for the coming hours.

We left the hospital at 4:30pm and went directly to the grocery store to get some food for the week.  At the store I kept having painful cramping, which I attributed to the internal exam and pressure of the ultrasound wand on my abdomen.  We finished shopping and went home to bake the frozen pizza we had picked up for dinner.  At 6:38pm on Sunday 3/10 I had my first contraction of labor.  The pain rated an 8/10 on the pain scale and was so intense my husband had to rush over to hold me so I didn’t fall on the floor.  7 minutes later I had another one, although this one was slightly less intense.  Since I was hoping this was real labor, I decided I needed to eat quickly since it might be the last time I got to eat before delivering.  I ate 3/4 of my pizza before realizing it was a very bad idea.  Contractions continued at 7 minutes apart, growing closer together with time.  90 minutes after the first contraction we were at 4 minutes apart and my stomach was very upset.  I threw up my pizza, and continued to vomit the pizza and the rest of my stomach over the next few hours.  We called Jackie, our doula, and she arrived at our apartment at 10pm.  She pretty quickly assessed the situation and told me I should call the doctor as things were moving quickly.

I had terrible back labor and felt great relief when someone would push inferiorly on my sacrum(a bone in the pelvis) during contractions.  At times I felt like my pelvis was splitting into three pieces with each contraction.  There was no gradual progression of painful contractions.  My pain rated a 6-8/10 with every contraction from beginning to end.

One of the funniest parts of the story is the cat.  My cat had curled up sound asleep on the bed, 2 feet from my writhing, screaming self.  I was so angry that he was so serene when I was in such pain.  At one point he picked his head up and looked at me during a contraction.  I glared at him and said “f*** you, don’t look at me!”  He turned back around and went back to sleep.  Jackie later told me that she was struggling so hard not to laugh at me at that point.  My husband had no such qualms and laughed out loud.

At 11:30pm I asked to go to the hospital and at 11:50 we got in the car (with my puke bucket!) and headed to the hospital. When we arrived at the ER, my husband ran in and got a wheelchair while alerting the nurse on staff that I was IN LABOR!  The nurse then pushed me in the chair up to L&D with Jackie while my husband parked the car.  My OB came in just after I got changed into a gown, which is really hard when you’re in labor, and examined me.  At 12:30am on 3/11 I was 4cm dilated.  Jackie told me later that she was very concerned that I was not progressed further, given my desire to labor at home as long as possible.  Turns out it didn’t really matter because things progressed very quickly from there.  The hospital staff was very supportive of my desire to labor naturally.  Our nurse did a great job of helping me breathe through contractions and no one ever offered me drugs.

I had every intention of laboring in a biomechanically appropriate manner, with switching positions regularly.  That all went out the window when my instincts told me to curl up on my left side and scream through each contraction.  The nurse and Jackie tried to get me up and into new positions.  They put me in a rocking chair, had me lean on my husband off the side of the bed, and even tried the shower.  While at home, I had shared the story of my grandmothers with Jackie.  I told her how my maternal grandma had 11 children and how my paternal grandma almost died in childbirth with dad and they were both amazingly strong women in their own way.  I had Grandma A’s rosary with me to give me strength and focus.  During labor Jackie kept telling me “11 children.  She did it, so can you.”  It helped focus me each time.

I, for some reason, was freezing during labor.  I could not stop shivering and shaking.  They kept bringing in more heated blankets to cover me, which helped some.  When they put me in the shower I was miserable.  I think the water rushing over me was just hyper-sensation but I hated it so much.  I begged to get out after just a few minutes and they dried me off and let me get back in bed.  As I neared the end of labor my temperature switched from freezing to sweating profusely.  It was so hot I threw off all the blankets and I think I even removed my gown.

I couldn’t keep track of time at the hospital so I don’t know what time anything happened.  My body became overwhelmed and just shut down.  I actually fell asleep between contractions, which were now 2 minutes apart, lasting about a minute. I would groan when the next contraction would start, saying “no, not yet…I just want 30 more seconds.”  I began to feel a lot of pressure at some point and asked to be checked again.  I was 8-9 cm but my water still hadn’t broken.  They had offered to break it when I first arrived and I said no, but now I was ready for things to happen.  After making me get dressed in a gown again, they called the doctor back in and by the time he got prepped to break my water I was 9 1/2 cm.  As soon as he broke it I wanted to push.

They got me up with a squat bar that Jackie asked for and it was my favorite position.  It gave me the power to control better, as well as the advantage of gravity.  I also requested a mirror after my water broke so I was able to watch what was happening, which was very cool to me.  While I was waiting for the mirror, my OB asked if I wanted to feel what was happening.  He said “put your hand down here and feel her head.”  While watching was something I wanted, no part of me wanted to reach down and touch the head pushing out of me.

It was around 3:45am when they broke my water and I began to push.  I stayed in the squat position as long as possible and when the doctor thought things were nearing the end he asked me to lie on my back for delivery.  Pushing went really well and at 4:18am my beautiful daughter was born on one final push.  The OB did a great job of just “catching” and didn’t pull or twist her head at all.  Her entire body came out in one push so there was no need for twisting to release the shoulders.  On the last push I instinctually screamed a guttural scream that my husband was shocked by.  He later described it as the loudest noise he’d ever heard and said he wondered if I was going to turn into Wolverine.  I had a 2nd degree tear which required some stitches, but threatening to kick my OB in the face made it easier to bear.

I was shocked by the amount of fluids released during childbirth.  Jackie was wearing scrubs and it’s a good thing because she got covered in fluid as she held my leg during my last push.  How many people can you have at your delivery who wouldn’t say a word about blood/fluid on their clothes?  Jackie was amazingly supportive, even when the unexpected happened.  Delivery of the placenta was uneventful and it was a lot bigger than I would have thought.

Because there was meconium in the amniotic fluid, NICU was there in the delivery room and the cord was immediately cut so the baby could be rushed over to be suctioned out before inhaling any meconium.  My husband was able to watch as they worked on her and he started crying watching our daughter live her first few moments on this earth.  Seeing him cry made me cry as well.  As soon as she got cleaned up they brought her back to me to hold.  That moment when they placed her in my arms is probably the best moment of my life.   He snuggled close and we just enjoyed the beginning of our life together while Jackie quietly took pictures for us.