Birth is an amazing, transformational experience, but also one that takes a while to process. You go from a slowly growing and developing pregnancy that lasts a good 10 months, to this intense transitional window and experience – and then you come out the other side holding a baby. A sweet, beautiful, needy, helpless baby that for the first few weeks requires all your brain power and effort just to keep healthy and content. Throughout my pregnancy, I had my heart set on a natural, home birth. After hours of studying, reading countless books, and 6-weeks of intense home birth childcare classes, I felt ready. This was the birth I wanted. However that’s not how it went down, and it was such a stark reminder that we can’t in any way control our circumstances, all we can do is decide how we will react to them. Now that I’m 6 weeks postpartum I’ve had some time to process my own birth story and would love to share it with you.
I was convinced our sweet baby Will would come early, so around week 39 I was more than ready to meet him. But the 40 week mark came, our due date passed without a sign or symptom of labor, and I found myself at 41 weeks with still no baby. Acupuncture, long walks, spicy food, herbal teas and tinctures – nothing was working. Finally on Wednesday, at 41w3d, I finally felt what had been days worth of Braxton hicks begin to settle into a normal and predictable rhythm. At 10pm I went to bed, hopeful that this would really be it. I woke up at 1am with even more intense contractions, to the point where it was uncomfortable to lie down any more so I got up and hung out on the couch while mentally trying to prepare for the journey ahead. I started timing the contractions around 3am and they were already about 5 minutes apart and lasting a minute. At 6:30 I finally woke Jim up and told him what was happening. We called our midwife Kara and she talked me through a few things, and then came to the house around 8:30. At this point the contractions were beginning to require all my attention and I wasn’t really talking through them anymore.
I continued to labor and around 11am Kara checked me and I was dilated to 4cm. After already having labored pretty intensely for 10 hours, I figured we were on our way. This is where time begins to get fuzzy. I was having some intense back labor and spent the next 12 hours going between the bed, the couch, being on my hands and knees, and sitting in the shower with the water on my back. The labor got so intense I couldn’t keep any food down except a handful of goldfish crackers and a few sips of gatorade. At 1am I got checked again – and was still at 4. I hadn’t progressed at all, and the pain was beginning to get unbearable. This was the moment I felt completely defeated. I started to feel panicked with each contraction, so Jim, Kara and I talked and decided it was time to transfer to the hospital. We threw some clothes, a baby outfit, and the carseat together and jumped in Kara’s car.
We got to the hospital around 2am, but it took an hour to get admitted because apparently it was a busy night for delivering babies. The nurse eventually took pity on me and gave me some Fentanyl while we were waiting since I was climbing the walls at this point. Thankfully baby’s heart stayed beautifully steady through all of this as they were monitoring him through each step. Eventually we got wheeled into a delivery room and I got an epidural. At this point after 26 hours of labor, I barely felt the epidural needle going into my spine, and the relief was almost immediate. Kara and Jim helped me get comfortable in the bed and I fell right asleep. After sleeping for three hours on and off, I woke up around 11am. The hospital midwife came in and checked me and I was at 7cm – and so excited to be progressing again. They gave me another 2 hours and when she came back at 1am and checked I was at 10cm and ready to push our sweet babe out. I pushed hard for an hour and a half, and at 2:47pm our sweet little boy made his loud entry into the world. They immediately put him on my chest and I cried; cried from the joy of finally holding this precious boy, and cried from the journey that brought us to this moment. He was so strong and perfect and loud – it was the best moment of my life. Time sort of stood still as they sewed up my two tears and cleaned us both up. That hour or two of skin to skin contact as I held him was amazing – Jim and I just stared at him and took in every detail of his little face and body.
My plan was for a timely, unmedicated home birth. My reality was a 36 hour labor, hospital transfer, pitocin, epidural, and a 2 day hospital stay. But honestly I wouldn’t change it. This is how our sweet babe needed to come, and I worked the hardest I ever have in my life to bring him into the world. I still hope that there is a home birth in my future, but this experience also opened my eyes to the different things women experience in birth – and to the realization that it’s all beautiful and empowering, no matter what your story. I think it’s important for us as women to be able to talk about our experiences and make these decisions about our body as they come, and feel the freedom to express our stories. Thanks for taking the time to read mine.