Greetings my friends and family who have happened upon my poor neglected blog! Just one week out from the birth of my sweet son Levi John, I am determined to write up a detailed account of my labor and delivery story before it fades in my memory. Overall, I am beyond pleased with the whole experience! Of all 3 of my unmedicated, minimal intervention hospital births, this one was my “most natural” in that my waters broke naturally as opposed to my first two labors where I allowed my doctor to break the bag for me. I also took no iv water for hydration (had 1 bag for Lena’s labor) and opted to skip a bag of pitocin after the birth which I reluctantly agreed to for Lena’s post birth, and regretted. (Supposedly helps the uterus contract back to normal and minimize hemmorage risk). I felt like it interfered with my natural oxytocin after her birth and specifically wanted to skip that this time, which I did after discussing it with my doctor. So, even though it’s in the minor details, Levi was my very most “hands off” birth so to speak. It was a longer labor than Lena’s (13 hours vs 6.5 hours), but ultimately the last 3 hours of this birth were true hard, active labor. So it really depends what I count since this time my labor was very slow to start. So here it is, my labor story! I don’t think I got too explicit but do proceed with caution.
Saturday evening (January 18th) my girls and my husband and I all went over to my parents house for spaghetti dinner. Those last couple of weeks were so hard on me and doing family outings was feeling like such a chore. However, making dinner was just about as much of a burden, therefore we opted to go have a meal prepared with love by my mom on this particular Saturday. It was so delicious. But I think I ate about 1/3rd of what I put into my bowl before waddling over and laying down on the couch. It seemed like there was a lot going on in the house that night but all I could do was lay down and keep more to myself. I feel distant, a little grouchy, and by 9pm I felt this wave of extreme exhaustion. All day I had been sniffling and somewhat sneezy. I had heard of this being a labor sign and I was convinced that it was a precursor since I had no other cold symptoms! I even told that to my mom when we first got to her house this particular night. We finally loaded up the car and headed home around 10. I was so glad to get home. It was a late night for my girls, and I went to bed at my usual bedtime, around midnight.
7am the next morning arrived with a POP! I was gently woken up by this familiar feeling and knew my water had broken. I asked John to get me a towel, and my suspicion was confirmed when I sat up and felt the fluid loss! The reason I say it was familiar is because when I first began labor with Eva, I felt the “pop” too! Strangely though, my water did not break with my labor with her. This was the real thing though. I should also add that weeks earlier, I had an intuition/premonition that my water would spontaneously break for this labor (never had that happen with my prior babies) and surely enough, it did. THREE times! But I’ll get to that later.
After I woke up to my water breaking, my first reaction was that I got really anxious. All these months leading up to the great unknown “d day” and the more recent days and weeks had me feeling pretty nervous at times. Since I had such a defining start to this big day, it was scary to take in at first. I took a little shower after I made my way into the bathroom. It relaxed me, and I prayed for peace, strength, and endurance for my imminent labor.
I don’t think I got a contraction until a good 30 minutes after my water broke. The ones that came after were also sparse and very gentle. I used this early time to my advantage to get my things together that I had been putting off. I made my phone calls to my family to inform them of the news and attempted to plan out the scenario of the coming hours. Having subsequent children really makes things tricky in this type of situation. There’s only so much planning that can be done before the true time. I am so thankful for the timing of everything with my labor with Levi. I had prayed for a morning/day labor, and it happened. I prayed for my mom to be able to be there through my labor, and she was (would have had her be with my girls if necessary). I prayed for things to go smoothly for the sake of my girls, and it did. It was so amazing how beautifully everything unfolded.
I had a good 2 hours of downtime from 7-9am before my girls woke up. I used this time to gather some last minute things, and sit. Sit and relax, and mentally prepare as best I could. Believe it or not, I started a load of laundry too. My mom and sister came over and brought me some specifically requested blueberry muffins from the Kroger bakery. It was so delicious and satisfying. I relaxed and enjoyed the morning time with my girls with the help of John and my mom and sister. Contractions were coming, but 10-15 minutes apart, and nothing painful at all.
11 o’clock or so rolled around and I began to feel a little annoyed that my labor wasn’t progressing too much. This was 4 hours after my water broke and I was wanting to get the ball rolling. I didn’t want to go to the hospital prematurely, but at the same time, I didn’t want to have to wait TOO many hours before showing up. My sister and Todd and I went on a walk down my street and back. This really helped me get more consistency in my contractions. I was having to stop and stand through about half of them, but most I could walk through, and all of them I could talk through.
When we got back, I called my in laws to go ahead and come over to help my sister out with the girls while my mom and husband and I left for the hospital. Still, I was purposefully slow in getting out the door. I even considered stopping by the mall the walk around awhile before going into the hospital.
I was getting hungry at this point but didn’t want anything heavy and I knew I shouldn’t really eat as per the Dr/hospital recommendation in the event of an emergency c section, so we opted to stop by smoothie king on the way to the hospital for easy protein.
John went ahead to the hospital and I went with my mom in her car (smoother ride). In the car my contractions were becoming more intense. Had to focus on breathing through them more, and they started coming 5 minutes or less apart at some points. My smoothie turned out to be gross. I couldn’t do more than 10 sips or so. Screw smoothie king. Jamba Juice is the way to go!
Since it was about 1pm on a Sunday, we hit a little bit of traffic trekking through the woodlands. While we sat at a light, I had a sudden, scary, rush of fluid loss! Just as much, if not more than the initial water break (I guess I did a good job of staying really hydrated all morning), and it was UNstoppable. My moms jean jacket was the only available item for helping to contain it! Sorry mom! So ironic, because John had towels in his car for this very potential occasion.
About 10 minutes after this, we were pulling up to the front circle at the hospital. Contractions were definitely coming, and before the car stopped in front of the doors, my water broke… AGAIN! Just as much fluid as both times before!!! No lie. It was so freaky! I was beginning to think that maybe Levi was closer to birth than I knew. The surprise of these two separate car water-breakings had me pretty shaky when I arrived. John was there waiting, and had a wheel chair for me. We checked in, and they gave me a room right off the bat since my water had broken and it had been 6 hours from the first time by then.
So it was around 2ish when I was roomed. My contractions were averaging about 3-5 minutes apart, some closer, some further. I’d say they were about a 5 on a pain scale of 10. I took a quick rinse off shower, did some of the protocol paper signing, and got my hep lock in my arm, and did some fetal monitoring. And of course, I got my first cervix check…. and I was 4 centimeters along, and 50% effaced. Darn! Was hoping to be further along, but I also found it funny since I was 4cms along when I arrived for BOTH of my previous labors with Eva and Lena!
I spent a good while just sitting upright in my bed, getting through contractions, and letting reality sink in that I made it through all the initial parts of labor, the unexpected triple water breaking, all the signing in, and meeting nurses. All these things during labor are quite distracting, and I was so glad to be settled into the very spot where I soon would birth my baby boy. “This is where it is going to happen. Right here in the room, on this bed,” I kept thinking.
I finally got the gumption up to do some walking around the labor and delivery wing. When John and I were making our way down the halls together, it seemed like I couldn’t get 20 feet without a pretty hard contraction. I definitely wasn’t walking through contractions at this point and breathing through them was gradually becoming a challenge, yet I would say my pain management was probably above average, compared to my past labors.
I walked about 15 minutes every hour for about 3 hours. Unfortunately I began experiencing back labor also. I spent about 20-30 minutes sitting up in the bed, about 10 minutes standing, and about 15-20 minutes on the squatting ball… Like this for a few hours. 4:30pm came around and I really felt my contractions getting hard. After 30 minutes of contractions that were significantly rough, I decided that I wanted to be checked again…. At 5pm, I was only 5cms!!! Okay, I cried. (I cried between 2 contractions only, because crying through a contraction would not have been possible- had to suck it up and breath correctly.) Things were getting SO hard, and I thought I would have been done, at least CLOSE by dinner time. I was hungry, I was tired, and a little discouraged. Some family and friends were in and out of the room which was a nice distraction, but things were really starting to suck at this point and moaning during the exhale of a contraction was pretty much the norm by now.
My nurse had discussed the fact that my baby may be face up due to the fact that my contractions were coming in 2′s and because I was having the back labor. She said that it could potentially mean it may be harder to push him out. She suggested positioning myself in a forward lean position and swaying my hips through contractions to relieve the back labor and to try to help him move to the right position. This freaked me out a little so I did exactly what she suggested after a little while.
Around 6pm there was a shift change and I got a new nurse. This definitely throws a person off. Not one of the great benefits of birthing in a hospital. However, the new nurse was a Lamaze instructor of over 20 years, was significantly older, sweeter, and just generally more loving. Maybe silly to say but she was special, and I appreciated her gentle spirit. Plus I think she enjoyed the fact that I was going for a completely natural birth.
I think it was about 7pm when I finally decided that I wanted to take a hot shower. A hot shower did a miracle in me during my extremely long labor with Eva so I was hopeful that it would help me out. When I discussed the plan with the nurse, Linda, she said something funny to me about how “If you feel like you’re going to push a baby out, pull that emergency string.” I think this image was in my subconscious during my shower. When I was in that shower, I leaned forward/down and gripped the built in seat and swayed my hips while the water was on my back. If this baby was facing the wrong way as my previous nurse suggested, I was desperate to get him lined up correctly. My contractions in this shower and in that forward position was nothing short of hardcore. I could almost feel him descending on my cervix. Things were definitely reaching a whole new level and I really think that my position and that 20 minute shower made things progress in a big way. My mom peered in as I turned off the water. “Dry me!” I exclaimed between contractions. I couldn’t talk when those rushes came, they were coming close together, my exhale was getting pretty vocal, and my whole body was getting shaky.
“Call the nurse, tell her I’m close!” I told my mom and John. She came in as I was desperately climbing up onto the bed before a contraction. My legs were still wet I think, and my hair was probably absolutely ridiculous since it was forgotten about, in a ponytail, 50% wet from my intense shower time.
The nurse checked me that one last time, and I was at 8 centimeters dilated. She scrambled to make the call to my obstetrician that he needed to hurry and get there in time. Yeah. That didn’t happen. Lol. It was pretty much the same story during my labor with Lena. They checked me and I was at 8cm, and within 10-15 minutes she was out, into the hands of my not doctor. Yep, that’s how it was this time again! My sister wanted to be there for the delivery and when she came in after I had just climbed up on the bed I looked at her and said, “It’s coming soon- if you want to be here, come stand back here (back left of me and my bed) and don’t move!” John and my mom were in position, and the nurse got ready to deliver my baby at 8:01pm, 13 hours after my water broke… the first time.
Needless to say, those last 15 minutes were extremely uncomfortable, intense, and overwhelming. I was more conscious of my birthing sounds and vocalization this time than my previous births. Maybe it’s just fresh in my memory, but I think I did get a little loud. I am certain the same can be said about my other two deliveries though. At the end it is hard to inhale smoothly and calmly too (for me, at least). And several friends and family members nearby in the hallways overheard it all. Oh well!
The time to push was undeniably primal feeling. I could feel him descending through the birth canal. What intrigued me the most during this pushing phase were the three distinct, painless, short “breaks” I had between those last contractions when he was sort of in limbo. Oh, the indescribable feeling of being so incredibly close to it all being over, yet the anticipation of the very scariest part of the whole ordeal!
There was a random older nurse lady who came into the room in the last 10 minutes or so I guess to help out my primary nurse. She was almost sort of pushy with me about my breathing, sort of sternly/loudly telling me to “breathe!!” (exhale with focus). She helped to push my leg back as well in those final moments too. She was a random addition to the experience but she got my attention above all the chaos and directed me in a way that I needed.
One of my favorite moments during the last stage was when I could feel him getting close to the end and my nurse Linda said “one more contraction and we will have a baby”… If I could sum up my internal feelings into one word at those last moments before the actual birth it would be “YUUSSSSSS!!!!!!” Because at this point, there is NO turning back, and it is like having to scale an impossible wall, and then just freaking doing it. The last two pushes (one for his head and the other for his shoulders) were the hardest pushes, but so totally doable in that moment. And when his shoulders were out, it was DONE!! I got to hold him right away and needless to say, the feelings of relief, accomplishment, happiness, excitement, alertness, and love for my newborn baby… all mixed equally into those post delivery moments is just indescribable!!
A few minutes later my OB showed up to do the hard job of checking to see if I had any tears (thank God I didn’t)! If I didn’t have uncomplicated births, I would definitely be more annoyed with my doctor for not making it for 2/3rds of my children’s births, but thankfully I didn’t exactly need his medical assistance and expertise. Not to mention the 1 he actually did show up for I ended up with an episiotomy. Coincidence? It’s debatable. I also don’t fully blame him since the hospital/ nurses make that call on when to tell him to come and I couldn’t exactly communicate the growing intensity while I was in my shower… I mean there’s only so much that can be done when you go from like 8cm to birthing a baby in a matter of moments which seems to be what I’m good at!
In conclusion, I am deeply grateful that I have managed THREE unmedicated/natural childbirths in a hospital! My birthing philosophy is obviously that of minimal intervention if baby and mommy are fairing well, and I have been beyond blessed to have manifested my desired birth plan for basically all of my children! The last part of my labor with Eva was a little crazy and didn’t go as I wished, but my subsequent labors more than made up for all that (see my older post on my abridged birth stories of my girls). There is definitely a part of me that wishes I could have done home births- in hindsight I would have been a really great candidate for that, but at the same time, I know I am a great testimony of how to do it naturally in a medical establishment. While I do take credit for all the research and mental preparation that goes into planning a labor and birth (not to mention the physical aspect), I must also give much credit to Memorial Hermann hospital and the really wonderful, supportive, understanding staff that I had the pleasure of encountering along the way! I know I am so fortunate to have had these great experiences with childbirth and I do not take that for granted at all. I also feel like I should add that I do not intend to brag or come across as prideful or arrogant because of my labor and birthing choices. While I do maintain a significant sense of personal accomplishment about my birthing achievements, I most definitely do not look down on other women’s different birthing experiences! No matter how it happens, a healthy baby is such an indescribable miracle. Being able to birth it the way nature intended in our modern society is simply a way to make it all that much more awesome, if that method is your passion and desire. Thanks be to God for allowing me to fulfill these dreams of my motherhood journey the way I have deeply desired, x3!! I wish for all my friends and family and acquaintances to have great labors and births the way that they envision and plan for too! In the mean time I am cheering all you pregnant and future pregnant ladies on to experience birthing the way nature intended. It is so worth it if you can do it too!