Don’t worry. I’ll save you the gory details. But I do want to share Isaiah’s birth story because I learned a few important lessons on the day he was born: 1) Natural childbirth is possible and not any worse than medicated child birth; 2) don’t be afraid to say no; and 3) your husband is your best ally.
I also want to preface the story by saying that I am NOT AT ALL looking down on people who had c-sections or medicated births. My first was a medicated birth and I totally get that meds and c-sections are, at times, medically necessary. So please read this with a “this girl is sharing what she learned in hopes that it helps/encourages someone” lens and not “this girl has a superiority complex” lens. Thanks.
So. The story.
I had contractions for weeks before Isaiah was born. But nothing ever became super regular or painful, so I tried to be patient. School got out and I just kept trying to find ways to keep my mind off the fact that I was LARGE and IN CHARGE. (see photo) In fact, I made a trip to Kenosha to hang out with my sister-in-law and her family on the day before I went into labor. (Thanks, Kara, by the way!)
At 12:30 on June 21st, I woke up to a decent contraction. Went to the bathroom and realized that it was time. (See? No gory details.) I took Mark’s iPhone and started timing contractions with the free contraction timing app he downloaded a few weeks before. (Friends: this was fabulous. You’ll see why in a little while.) At 1: 15, when, I realized that contractions were under 5 minutes apart and just under a minute a piece, I woke up Mark, who muttered something about me OF COURSE going into labor in the middle of the night. Sorry, hon. (He admitted later that he didn’t think I was really in labor until we got to the hospital and he heard how dilated I was.) At 1:45, we decided to call his parents to stay with Mason.
While we waited for them, I helped change the sheets on the bed, pack the car, and do a few dishes. Just like my Bradley method book told me, I paused with each contraction to focus on relaxing and breathing normally. After about 45 minutes (which seemed like a long time), Mark’s parents arrived and we left for the hospital.
At the hospital, we checked into the ER. I gave them a good scare when, during a contraction, I became limp, motionless and unresponsive. Had to break my concentration momentarily to signal to my husband that I still had a pulse. He explained the rest to the nurses.
ER wheeled me up to Labor and Delivery almost immediately when we showed them the contraction record on Mark’s phone. (Yep, it was extremely helpful and hard to argue with.) The nurse checked me and I was already 5/6 cm. Then she proceeded to place an IV, gripe at me for being in my “relaxation” position (which apparently caused difficulties with the IV… too damn bad, lady. I’m in labor here), and ask me a million dumb questions that could have waited until I wasn’t laboring (“We’re going to ask you some questions. If you have a contraction, just tell us and we’ll stop for a minute.” “No, lady, I’m just not going to answer you.” “Do you have a car seat and a crib?” “Why? Am I taking the baby home at this particular moment?” “What is your due date?” “June 28th.” “That’s not the due date we have.” “Then why the hell are you asking me if you already have it?”). Finally, Mark just started answering everything for me because I was getting pissy. And the contractions started coming on top of one another.
After the slew of questions, the nurse proceeds to tell me that my doctor said I needed to be on the penicillin for Group B Strep (knew this, but wasn’t happy about it) and that I should be on Petocin. “Absolutely not!” I said to the Petocin. “I am 4 minutes apart. Why the hell would she put me on Petocin?” Nurse (in a condescending tone): “So you’re refusing?” Me: “Yep.” (Side Note: The nurse had heard my doctor wrong on the phone. Doctor DID NOT recommend Petocin. Doctor dragged nurse in after labor to clear this little misunderstanding up.)
30 minutes later, I had 2 contractions on top of one another. Then I had an uncontrollable pressure and began pushing unknowingly. Husband, meanwhile, is being a fabulous coach through contractions and reminding me that I can do this even when I didn’t think I could. Nurse comes in and asks if I’m pushing. She tells me to flip over and checks me. I’m suddenly 8-9. She begins yelling for other nurses to call doctor. Yells some more when those nurses ask too many questions. I panic and begin hyperventilating. I was told not to push and my leg got shoved back down when I tried to grab it to push. I signal to Mark that I need some oxygen because I’m getting numb and dizzy. Mark tells nurse, who yells at him that my baby’s head is already partially out and that she may have to catch. Oxygen was clearly not a priority??? I was told to just breathe and not push until the doctor got there.
After an eternity, my doctor showed up, said, “Woah!”, put gloves on, and caught my baby after one push. He was crying immediately, alert, and got the highest rating possible on the Apgar. Whole labor: 3 1/2 hours. No drugs. No stitches. No problem.
I was amazed at how much better I felt after this labor. I know it was the second one, which probably had something to do with it, but I was much less sore and was ready to go home much earlier than I actually did. (We were stuck in the hospital because I didn’t get a full dose of antibiotics and they needed to watch Isaiah to make sure he didn’t get the Group B strep.) If I had to do it all over again, I would have done a natural birth with Mason: I would have refused the Petocin they gave me (I wasn’t induced, but my water broke and I wasn’t having regular contractions) and practiced Bradley method relaxation techniques to avoid pain meds. Honestly, I was still in serious pain with Mason even after the epidural. It was relaxation and a change in positions that finally relieved pain, not the drugs entirely.
As someone who had a medicated labor followed by a natural labor, I would highly recommend the natural labor to anyone who is expecting or thinking about having a child. I’m not going to lie: there is pain. But I really feel that the faster healing, benefits to my child (avoiding drugs going through my system, no need for even suction after birth), and closeness I felt with my husband-coach was worth the temporary pain of the natural labor. Let me know – I’d be happy to talk to you and share some resources! (A shout-out to my friend Val, whose natural birth with her first inspired me and who gave me resources to have my own natural labor. Thanks!)
Thanks for taking the time to read this. Hopefully you will be inspired… and I’ll remember that I probably shouldn’t dilly-dally getting to the hospital if my husband succeeds in talking me into #3. 🙂