I was recently at the coolest Stranger Things party and found myself swapping birth experiences with another mom (because that’s what moms do at parties, right?). Thinking back to it all has led me to write it all out. Giving birth is THE MOST empowering experience. Ever. Regardless of what type of birth you have. And it’s so fun to share those experiences with other moms. I remember when I was pregnant I could not read enough birth stories. I found them sooo interesting! The unknowns and variables that are involved in giving birth are insane!
So here we go. . . my due date was April 23. By late March, I’m feeling ready to pop and by early April (pictured) I was having prodromal labor. Essentially, I’m having ‘false’ contractions and at my weekly pregnancy check-ups, the midwife is saying “wow, you’re already dilated and ready to go! I hope your bag is packed! Now are you sure you know when to come to the hospital?” And the same thing the next week. And the next. Mind you 4 weeks later, still no baby, and the topic of scheduled c-section is brought up. *Sigh*.
I had my last scheduled check-up on Monday, April 17th and was instructed to come back into the office on the following Monday for an ultrasound and to schedule a c-section. I was feeling SO defeated because of wanting a natural birth and then having my hopes up daily with these false contractions. As a first time mom, I had no idea what was real and what wasn’t, and having contractions start then stop repeatedly for almost a month was emotionally draining.
The week passed…crawled.. by. I was doing everything under the sun to keep the contractions coming and start true labor. I drank TONS of Red Raspberry leaf tea, took evening primrose oil by the capsule, and was outside walking about 3 miles every day. We thought Friday was the day; I had been up Thursday night unable to sleep with new sensations that were for sure labor. It wasn’t. The weekend came and by Sunday night, we were laying on the couch watching Owen do what appeared to be the Mexican jig in my belly. It seemed as though he was trying to kick his way out. I felt as if I would NEVER have this baby, and I wanted to meet him so badly I cried (thank you, pregnancy hormones). I was ready for my appointment the next day and hopeful that at least with a scheduled c-section, I would know for certain when I would get to meet him.
Early Sunday morning around 2 a.m., on April 23rd – Owen’s due date – I woke up needing to relieve my bladder. This was nothing new, and must have been the second time I was up that night. But it was different this time as I COULDN’T CONTROL ANYTHING. Freaked out and in denial that I could even be in labor, I woke Joe up telling him that I couldn’t stop peeing. It sounds so ridiculous but I honestly thought that I was just so pregnant that I could no longer control it haha!
Joe, always the rational one, kindly explained *with much excitement* that it was really my water breaking. After me asking him “are you sure?” more times that I care to admit, I finally believed him and called the midwife. As I had previously tested positive for strep B, I was instructed to go ahead and check into Labor and Delivery so that I could be started on antibiotics.
We were both SO EXCITED that this was finally it! I hopped in the shower then packed up the remaining personal things we needed to take to the hospital. As we got closer to the hospital, my contractions started up again, and for the first time they were actually painful.
After checking into our room the nurse checked on Owen’s heart rate and got my antibiotic IV going while Joe set up the essentials- pillows, essential oils in the diffuser, water and snacks. Things were pretty slow going at first, with contractions only coming every 8 minutes or so with only a twinge of pain. However the morning seemed to fly by; I bounced on a yoga birthing ball while I vaguely remember watching a movie on the TV. I scrolled Pinterest while Joe read a book, we looked at the lunch menu, basically did anything but sleep because I was too excited about what was next! Then all of a sudden it was around 10 a.m. and things really started picking up.
I planned for a completely drug-free and natural delivery. To prepare for this I had read multiple books on natural childbirth and become quite the Ana May Gaskin fan-girl. I highly recommend her books if you are planning for a natural birth as perception is everything! Ana May Gaskin’s Guide to Childbirth book made such a difference in how I understood and handled birth sensations. But I digress. As my contractions got more intense and closer together, I stayed really focused on their purpose – bringing my baby into this world. I fully trusted my body to do what it needed to do, as women have been giving birth for eons without intervention. I found the contractions tolerable and embraced them as each one brought Owen a little more closer earth-side. Everything was going as planned and the nurse had me come back to our room periodically to check on Owen’s heart rate. This was just a little precaution as so far my labor wasn’t causing any influx in his heart rate.
I walked laps around the floor of the labor and delivery wing to try to keep the contractions coming and pick up. I focused on breathing through the contractions and to ease the pain I used essential oils on my lower back. Joe helped me through them by walking with me and making me laugh. . . which actually made them worse haha! But I appreciated the distractions. We made our way back to our room when my contractions were coming about 5 minutes apart and became more intense.
It was around 1:30 p.m. and the nurse checked on Owen’s heart-rate. Instead of being higher with each contraction, it was staying pretty low. I bounced on the yoga ball and waited for my midwife, Julie, to come in to check on things. At this point my contractions started being more sporadic and spread apart. Julie performed a cervix exam and actually poked Owen’s nose in the process! This was shocking as it meant Owen was coming face-forward, or in medical terminology, “facial presentation”. To be sure, Julie did an ultrasound which confirmed this and revealed that Owen’s neck was hyper-extended backwards. This explained why my labor kept stopping – he was stuck in my pelvis with his neck in a position that was preventing him from moving any further down the birth canal.
I remember feeling really confused and in shock because I had never entertained the idea that something like this could happen. I assumed because I was healthy, and had been exercising and going to the chiropractor regularly throughout my pregnancy that I wouldn’t have any trouble with having a natural delivery. So when the doctor came in and explained the need for c-section, I was devastated and became pretty emotional.
As soon as I signed the consent for c-section, the room was suddenly full of people giving instructions and all I can remember is that Joe was my rock. And sweet Julie. God bless both of them because I was a mess! It was such a blur – I was rolled into the OR and given the epidural while the team prepped for the delivery. I actually began to panic while all of this was happening and was given oxygen. Thankfully Joe was able to come in and sit with me as the team finished prepping.
There were maybe 45 minutes between the discussion of c-section and Owen being born. I am so thankful for my medical team and God’s hand during the delivery. When the surgeon began delivering Owen, he found that the umbilical cord was wrapped around Owen’s neck three times. As frustrating as it was at the time that my labor slowed when Owen’s face became lodged, I am SO GLAD this happened. I can’t imagine him getting even lower in the birth canal with the cord tightening on his neck.
As much of a roller coaster that day (and the weeks leading up to it) was, it ended in overwhelming joy. Nothing in the world can compare to the new life of a baby and all the love that comes with them. I still plan for my next birth to be a natural labor and delivery. Honestly I found the contractions more bearable than the numbness and overall lack of mobility that the epidural gave me. . . I hated not having control over my body! But I will go into my next birth with the realistic expectation that any outcome is possible and be less fixated on my birth plan. After all, every plan needs a plan B. 😉
Owen’s name means “young warrior”. He is such a strong little man and has been surprising us since the day we found out we were expecting. He is now six months old and is scooting around, starting to enjoy foods, grabs faces, gives hugs, is always ready to laugh, and is my littlest love.