Myself, Brandyn, Brandyn’s dad, Ellie our Doula and photographer, a student doula named Susan, Dr. Miller, Lisa our nurse.
My Goals: Of course, as anything, I had goals for our birthing that I wanted to accomplish if possible.
Have a healthy baby
Keep mental composure, humor possibly
Have baby come out the proper exit
Spontaneous/Mother directed pushing
None/as little pain as possible
Help pull baby out
No Epidural/Pain Meds or meds of any sort
Delayed cord clamping
Friday January 22nd:
For the two evenings prior I had been having birthing waves (what we call contractions), but by morning they had always subsided. Brandyn, out of excitement, wanted to only work a half day and I eventually agreed. A few hours after we got home I could tell my hormones had shifted. I began to feel really tired and laid down for a nap. I had some waves while laying down that were 7 minutes apart and a minute long. I continued to have frequent waves throughout the evening. These were definitely not Braxton Hicks. They were all lower, true birthing waves. I still thought it was too early in the process to determine if this was labor or not, but I took it easy none the less. We went to bed around 10:00pm and was still having waves.
Saturday January 23rd:
1:45am – I woke up after having two strong waves. Just after the second one I got up to use the restroom and while turning over in bed I heard a pop. I thought I had just popped my back or hip which is noting out of the ordinary. As I stepped out of bed my water began flowing out. I guess I had been in the early stages of labor Friday evening! I was a bit shocked, and calmly woke Brandyn up by saying, “Um, hey babe. My water just broke.” It took a second for what had happened to sink in for both of us. The waves subsided for a little while, so I showered. When they started up they were much stronger than they were before. We called our doula, Ellie, and our doctor/midwife’s office to let them know what had happened. The Doctor on call instructed us to come to the hospital at 3:00pm, if not sooner. I couldn’t sleep through the waves so at Ellie’s recommendation I sat on a birthing ball (exercise ball) and leaned on the bed. I was able to sleep a bit in this position. After I learned how to handle them got back in bed and slept sitting up.
By early morning, I had found a good rhythm and method of breathing that worked well for me and allow me to stretch out my birthing muscles with each wave. Hypnobabies techniques and phrases helped me to stay calm, comfortable and confident. Waves increased to 4 minutes apart for a couple of hours but by the time I got out of bed for breakfast they slowed down to 9-12 minutes apart. By morning, Bella (our dog) realized I was in labor and hung out with me more. I felt as if she wanted to somehow help me through the process or protect me. Very sweet.
9:50am – Based on my waves slowing down, Ellie concluded that Aria may not be in the perfect position so she recommended a series of exercises (the Miles Circuit) to get her to shift. Unfortunately, they didn’t help the waves pick up.
1:30pm - Ellie arrived at our home and helped me do a new exercise. This didn’t seem to help either. We knew I would be getting meds at the hospital to speed things along (Pitocin maybe) so I used my breast pump for about 30 minutes to get some natural oxytocin going. I remember thinking this wasn’t how I wanted things to go. I knew that if I would have to have meds, else I would end up in a c-section. I remained calm and found peace in knowing that however my birth progressed, everything and everyone (Aria and I) would be fine.
Just before we left for the hospital I picked Bella up and cuddled her. She had been our “baby” until now. I told her that when we come home we will have a baby with us. This was a moment of clarity for me. Saying goodbye to her for a few days I knew that our lives and relationships would never be the same. While pulling out of the garage I turned to Brandyn and said, “Well, here we go!” What would the rest of our birth experience hold for us? How would it feel? Was I ready to take this on?
3:30pm – We arrived at the hospital and were taken directly into a delivery room. I was thankful they were going to monitor my waves for a few hours to see what my body was doing on its own before determining if medicine to speed things up, or other assistance, was necessary. Dr. Miller was the doctor from my practice that was on call. I knew things weren’t looking good and knew the doctor was going to recommend meds and that’s what she did. She gave me the options of Cytotec or Pitocin. Cytotec targets the cervix and softens (effaces) it, whereas Pitocin causes contractions. This was a hard decision because Cytotec is actually not FDA approved to be used during pregnancy and I wanted to avoid this med especially. On the other hand, Pitocin in known to make labor much harder and many end up getting an epidural because of this. After a lot of deliberating, I chose Cytotec. I chose this because Pitocin would be like trying to pull open a hard resistant cervix, whereas Cytotex would soften the cervix and secondly, cause waves.
6:30pm – I took the Cytotec (2 oral pills), and tried to rest but couldn’t. My mind was racing. Would things pick up all of a sudden or gradually? What were we in store for? I took this time to pray as well. This calmed me and restored my confidence.
As time went on, I found that the waves were gradually increasing. I wanted to get out of the room and do something to help things along so we walked the halls. While walking the waves began to increase in intensity. We saw Doctor Miller in the hallway who, through observing me, could tell progress was being made. She was pleased. Hearing this made me proud and feel as if things may go a bit quicker from here on out.
When we got back to the room we labored on the toilet for a while, then moved the bed into a chair-like position. I labored there for most of our birthing time. I came to like this position as I had figured out how to handle the waves. A seated position was also how I practiced my Hypnobabies techniques, so it was easy for me to utilize them.
9:51pm – I was 5 centimeters dilated, 80% effaced and baby was at a -2 Station.
After this, my memory begins to get spotty as things were picking up.
Random memories: They had to keep adjusting the monitors on my stomach due to them shifting. I labored on the birth ball for a little while and sang to a Gospel playlist I had created for this occasion. I was so thankful to have the mental clarity to sing between my contractions (through a few a bit as well), as it not only brought me some peace, but reminded me that I wasn’t in the journey alone. This gave me strength. At one point, Aria's heart rate dropped. I was given an oxygen mask and fluids through my IV. She ended up being fine. They had to keep moving the IV and re-sticking me. So annoying! For some reason, my blood wasn’t clotting well and each tie they pulled the IV out to re-stick me somewhere else, I bled a good amount. As the evening went on I began moaning through each wave. At first I didn’t even realize I was moaning but it came naturally and felt very primal. It felt good to release that energy with each wave. A bit before midnight we asked Brandyn’s dad to head to the waiting room.
Sunday January 24th:
1:00am – Waves had begun to space out. I was given the lowest dose of pitocin, a dose of 1.
2:22am – I was 7 centimeters dilated, 80% effaced and a -2 station.
5:41am - No progress. Still 7/80%/-2. They also gave me antibiotics (a medication called Unison) at this time due to the fact that my water had been broken for over 24 hours and there was an increasing risk of infection that could lead to a c section. I was very appreciative of this as I knew that if I had any other doctor, I would have, at that very moment, been being wheeled down the hallway for a c section. I will always be grateful for this!
By this time, I had begun focusing much more internally, and had learned how my body felt before a wave began. This helped me get mentally prepared before the sensation hit. This, along with moaning, rocking from side to side and my hypnobabies techniques helped ease the intensity of the waves. I was thankful that my birthing waves weren’t painful, just insanely intense. Praise God! I was having my pain-free birth that I had prayed and believed for.
6:00am – Another dose of Pitocin (a dose of 1).
This really kicked things up. Shortly after, I was getting to the point where I mentally needed to get this done. I stayed seated, moaning and rocking through waves. After a few hours I was "there"...mentally done. I had an urgency and determination to get to the end and to do whatever I needed to in order to help us get there. I kept telling the baby "You have to get out! Get out!" Probably not the most loving thing to say. This is when I really needed Brandyn and Ellie’s support. Brandyn reminded me of all the women that had done this before me that my body was designed for this and that I am strong. Ellie read me some affirmations I had written for myself. Hearing these words gave me strength and helped me get “back on track”. Something she said even made me laugh. After a while I asked to be checked again. I was sure I was at 10 centimeters.
7:45am - 9 centimeters dilated, 90% effaced and Aria was at a -1 station. As the doctor turned to leave the room, I joked "Don't go far! I plan on making this centimeter quick!" Everyone laughed. Within the next 30 minutes or so I was determined to get things going. I knew that if I pushed a bit and put more pressure on my cervix this could help it dilate the centimeter more I needed it to go. I pushed sitting straight up, then leaning to the left. I felt the baby move down a bit.
8:45am - I was finally 10 centimeters, 100% and 0 station. I was given the all clear to push. Dr. Miller also added "your daughter has a lot of hair!" I pushed for a total of two hours. For the first hour, I first pushed sitting straight up, then with my feet up on the squat bar in front of me and pulling on a towel tug of war style with the student doula that was assisting us.
10:00am – Dr. Miller checked me and said, "if you keep doing whatever you are doing, we are going to be pushing for hours. She is still really far up." Since I was siting on my pelvis it wasn't able to open to the sides and allow Aria down. She suggested I lay on my back. She said "I know you didn't want to push this way, but your pelvis will be able to open to the sides." As the bed was being laid down I said "no, no…!" But was cut off by an overwhelming intense wave that had come on. I had to push. With that first push, everyone cheered. We all knew this was the position that would get me to the end.
I pushed for 40 minutes laying on my back. I was feeling everything, just as I wanted to. The pressure began to build and I felt myself bulging out. She was coming! At some point Brandyn turned off my Hypnobabies track and turned on my Gospel playlist. Perfect for the moment! He knows me so well! After some time, I was told to reach down and feel her. A soft, wet head of hair was emerging. Wow! Ellie joked that Aria would be ready to wear bows in her hair right away, to which I comically stated “oh, we’ve got one right there in our bag!”. Everyone laughed! I appreciated the fact that even during pushing I was able to keep a light mood and express it to those in attendance. I noticed that I had the control to choose to not push through some waves. When I felt that I needed to rest instead of push, I did so. I was so thankful for this and the fact that the doctor was ok with me pushing when I wanted and didn’t try to tell me when or for how long I should push. The nurse, Lisa, remarked happily that she was loving the music we were playing, as it made her feel like she was in church! It was Sunday morning after all. I appreciated her adding to the joyful, humorous vibe of our birth. Eventually, I felt that I was about to crown. It was at the peak of crowning that I felt pain for the first time in my birthing. I felt as if my urethra was going to tear. This sensation made me grateful again that I hadn’t had pain throughout my labor. (Looking back, I am appreciative of the fact that the pain I felt in this moment, was only in a very small spot.) Ellie reminded me to rest for a moment and allowed myself to stretch. With the next push I felt her ears pass through. It didn't hit me that her head was out until they told me to reach down and grab my baby. As I pulled her up I could feel her legs wiggle and kick as they left my body. Amazing! I was in shock! My baby was here! I greeted her with a hello, and noticed she hadn't breathed yet. Due to this, the doctor clamped the cord right away and instructed Brandyn to cut it. We wanted to delay clamping the cord so the placenta could pump more of Aria’s blood back into her (giving her nutrients), but they didn’t feel comfortable waiting as they thought there might be a problem. Of course there wasn’t, and she did breathe and cry. I reassured her (and myself) in reference to not getting her cord blood, "It's ok. God will cover you." The next few minutes are a blur, but I’ll never forget the first time I kissed her forehead and the first time we really stopped and looked at each other. I held her hands and just looked at her a while. A wonderful moment, she stared at her mother and I my daughter.