The moment I discovered I was pregnant with my second baby I knew that I was going to get the birth that I had dreamed about with my son. My son’s birth was filled with a lot of fear, anxiety, helplessness and regret. He was born early at 35 weeks, I had an epidural, he had a monitor screwed to his head. I had an oxygen mask and a terrified husband, he had a week long NICU stay. It was an all around sad, scary experience for everyone and I wanted to have the completely opposite with my next birth.
So I set out to do just that.
I toured a birth center at 8 weeks pregnant and was ECSTATIC to see the rooms where I was going to be delivering. I thought that by getting out of the hospital and in to a more ‘homelike’ setting I could avoid a lot of the anxiety and fear that I felt the first time around.
4 weeks later I discovered that I had gestational diabetes. Major bummer, but I still had my sights set on the birth center. I signed up for hypnobirthing classes and started interviewing doulas. I was tearing through any and all material on natural births. If there is a Youtube video of you giving birth out there, I’m sure I watched it. Educating myself was empowering me to have the confidence that I. COULD. DO. IT.
At 28 weeks I made the decision to take Metformin for my GD since my levels were not able to be controlled with diet alone. Along with that incredibly hard decsion came the sinking realization that I was disqualified from the local birth centers so I had to deliver in L&D.
But after a brief mourning period I realized that it was still MY decision. MY labor. MY baby. MY choices. MY experience. So onward I marched, high on my future awesome birth.
And an awesome birth is exactly what I got. At 39W4D, I woke up on a Saturday morning at 7:30AM and noticed I was having some irregular surges, nothing too crazy so I wasn’t sure if it was THE DAY.
My fantastic husband made me a lovely breakfast and I had my coffee (thank god) and about an hour later I was like ‘woah, these are getting strong’ but they were anywhere from 4-12 minutes apart so I still wasn’t sure. I was walking to the bathroom when I got a strong one that I had to breathe through so I came to the realization that HOLY CRAP I was in labor! FINALLY! YAY! I called a friend to come pick up my son (who had just turned 2 a couple weeks before) and after I hugged him goodbye I had an INTENSE surge that landed me on my hands and knees on the sidewalk, my boobs hanging out for the world to see (I was in a robe still, my bad)
After I went back inside the contractions became a few minutes apart so I call my doula to COME.HERE.NOW. NOW. NOW. NOW. It was around 10:30 at this time and sh!@ was getting real. Things were happening so fast so I still didn’t fully process that I was in the throes of labor. After my doula arrived she helped me get nice and comfortable on my bed and helped me to breathe through the surges. After a few of those I opened my eyes, looked her in the eyes and said ‘we need to go to the hospital. Now!’ Since she had only seen me in labor for about 30 minutes she suggested I take a warm bath first because she wasn’t sure I was that far along. I was not feeling a bath. “F THAT BATH! THAT BATH COULD SUCK IT!” was what I wanted to shout… but she said it would ‘be nice’ so I agreed. I stood up and had a bloody show..blood everywhere! (Hooray for not getting that on my bed, woot woot) I went to sit on the toilet to pee and got the most intense contraction yet, I almost threw up. I figured this was transition and was like “can we LEAVE NOW?!!” She was like ‘ok yep!’ and directed my hubby to get the car started, turn the AC on and we left in two minutes! This was around 11:40am. So we drive to the hospital in what was obviously the longest car ride ever but I remember thinking the contractions were not getting any stronger, which was nice, and I was still getting a good break between them to calm down and relax and focus myself again. So we pull up to the front of the hospital where the valet should have been and didn’t see them! This sends husband into a tizzy and he runs out to find help and a wheelchair. I’m in the car alone and I had a surge and was like ‘OH. MY. GOD everyone left me! WHATIFIHAVETHISBABYINTHECARBYMYSELF Ahhh!. Then my angelic doula appears and I stop freaking out and after like 10 minutes (seemed like 24 years) a nurse finally appears with a wheelchair. As I was getting out of the car my water broke- I was only wearing a bra and skirt at this point too which was funny because everyone was looking at me in horror. HORROR. So I get wheeled right to a room, lay down in the bed and the nurse comes in to start putting the monitors on me. She was cold and unfriendly and wasn’t concerned that I could have this baby at any minute. One of ONLY 3 requests during my labor was to have intermittent doppler use because I didn’t want to be tied to a monitor and this bislotch tells me that ‘we don’t do that in L&D’. Guess again, sista, MY BIRTH. MY CHOICES. I told her I was a midwife patient and to get her STAT. Meanwhile, my doula put up the sign on the door that I made (indicating I wanted a natural birth, dim lights, low voices, etc.) And handed out my birth plan, got me comfortable, gave me water, calmed me down, etc. She was a lifesaver. I was in the middle of explaining to my husband why I needed an epidural (I was freaking out a little bit at this point) and before he could respond my midwife breezed in and SAVED.THE.DAY. She was AMAZING. She took the monitors off me and said she was gonna check me. I explained to her that I just felt done and to order me an epidural and she sweetly smiled at me and said ‘let’s just check you first’. So she checked me and her eyes got wide and the thought crossed my mind that what if I was only 3CM and barely in labor. How horrible would that be?! And then she says the 17 words that I will remember the rest of my life: “Honey, you won’t need that epidural, you are complete, you just need to push your baby out!” I almost died..I had done it! MY BIRTH! MY EXPERIENCE! Everything I had wanted was actually coming true…I was over the moon. But then I was like, OH CRAP, I still need to PUSH A BABY OUT OF ME. Woah.
The midwife suggested I just breathe her down some since I had a hard time getting comfortable. I was on my hands and knees, then on my side, then finally flipped to my back to get more leverage. After a few surges I could feel her head enter the birth canal and it was so surreal…I remember thinking “I CAN’T BELIEVE I AM DOING THIS! I AM ABOUT TO PUSH A BABY OUT WITHOUT ANY DRUGS! No IV. No heplock. No Epidural. Nothing. So crazy.
It took me a little bit to get the ‘hang’ of focusing my energy downward so I could start pushing. I remember my (absolutely awesome) hypnobirthing instructor saying how she just felt so “full’ when the baby entered the birth canal and that was probably the only thing that kept me from tweaking out when it finally happened. I felt her move down, gave some strong pushes with the next contraction and she crowned; and after a brief rest I pushed her out with the next one. At 1:03PM, about 2.5 hours after my first intense contraction, my 6lb 11oz baby girl was born. The feeling of that is just unforgettable..it was AMAZING and relief was INSTANT as soon as she was out. Immediate skin to skin, waited for the cord to stop pulsing, no one touched her for a couple hours, it was just amazing. I rode a high unlike anything I have ever experienced.
The nurse said that she had never seen the doppler use in L&D before and she said it was so rare for someone to have a natural delivery down there, let alone check into the hospital fully dilated. Her comment saddened me because I just felt like every single woman on this planet should be able to experience the feeling of birthing your own child naturally…it is surreal. It is empowering. It is life changing.
I definitely don’t think I could have done it so easily without my phenomenal doula and supportive husband They were so encouraging and made me feel calm when I wanted nothing more than to give in and let modern medical advances take charge. But I am so so so so thankful that I didn’t and that I had the birth I dreamed about. I would have a natural birth over an epidural birth any day. Sure, it is a lot more work and you need to remain calm and confident, but it is so achievable and rewarding that words cannot even accurately describe it.
I’m thinking a home birth for my next baby. And I am looking forward to it.
Thanks SO much for sharing your story with us, Kate! There are SUCH good nuggets that I take from your story and I am sure other expectant families will as well. I am so thankful that the HypnoBirthing techniques helped and that you had the birth you always dreamed of. It was pretty amazing how calm, cool, and collected you and Jarrod were when I saw you just a couple hours after she was born when I came to pick up your placenta- it looked like you were absolutely GLOWING! Thanks again for sharing your story and empowering yourself and encouraging others!!
If you are interested in my HypnoBirthing classes, please feel free to contact me over at Beautiful One Birth Services.
If you are interested in Kate’s doula, Sarah Burns, please contact her over at Night and Day Doula.