I spent a lot of time on these boards when I was pregnant, and I enjoyed reading stories about unmedicated births when I could find them since that?s what we were planning.
With my son, born in 2005, we took the Bradley classes, which got us through a day and a half of labor at home and the first 12 hours of labor at the hospital. Ultimately I was exhausted and requested an epidural. I actually had a very positive experience with the epi, especially since I was having a lot of trouble relaxing the muscles to allow my cervix to dilate.
When we found out we were expecting our second baby, we debated doing a Bradley refresher, or trying something else. Although I had the epi the first time, I still wanted to give an unmedicated birth a chance, especially since I wanted to get home to my son as soon as I could ? and wanted more than ever to avoid a slippery slope of interventions that might increase a chance of a c-section (and a longer hospital stay). I had my second child last week using Hypnobirthing techniques (for the most part).
The idea of using relaxation techniques to progress through labor really appealed to me, especially since that was something that I really struggled with the first time. Also, I agreed with the idea that the body will respond to what the mind tells it. To be honest, we weren?t the greatest about practicing the exercises regularly. In addition to caring for our son, my husband and I are both in school part time ? and we moved when I was 35 weeks along. Nevertheless, whatever we did do worked when we needed it.
Our ?due date? was March 25, but I avoided telling people that date like the plague. I would just say ?the end of March? in an attempt to avoid having everyone ask me why I was still there if the date passed with no baby (my son was 5 days ?late?). I went to work on Monday, March 24. I had been having Braxton Hicks (or practice labor) off and on for weeks. I had declined all internals since they had no medical purpose for me, and also so that I wouldn?t obsess about something that had no bearing whatsoever on when I would give birth. I finally got an indication that something was happening when I noticed a tiny bit of mucus on one of my dozens of trips to the ladies? room. With my son, I lost the mucus plug (birth plug) all at once, so this was something different for me.
We got home that evening, and went to bed around 10:00. As we lay down, I said that maybe we should call our friend who was going to watch our son when we went to the hospital ? just to give him a heads up. I almost didn?t say anything since I would have felt foolish for bothering him if this weren?t really it. So my husband called him, and we went to sleep. Between 10:00 and 1:00, I woke up twice feeling the contractions (surges), but was able to just go the bathroom and go back to sleep. At 1:30, I finally got up. I didn?t want to wake my husband just yet, so I got onto ContractionMaster to gauge how far apart and how long they were. I didn?t want to obsess over it, but since it was my second baby, I also didn?t want to wait too long. I was also positive for Group B strep, and wanted to make sure I was able to get the antibiotics in enough time. I timed for about an hour, and they were 4-6 minutes apart and about 1min 10sec each. I was also having a lot of ?show?. The contractions were strong enough that I had to breathe through them, so we called our doula around 2:30 a.m. to let her know that we were in labor.
I called my OB around 6:00 to let her know that we would be coming in. I actually work for the hospital, and our daycare opened at 6:30 and was right next to the hospital, so I really wanted to wait to leave so that at least I wouldn?t worry about our son getting there.
We dropped our son off at daycare around 7:00, parked the car and walked the 4 blocks to the hospital. When we got there, I was checked in triage and found to be 5.5 cm ? I forget how effaced I was, but the dilation (opening) was enough to get us up to L&D around 8:00. Our doula met us there, and I spent the next 7.5 hours mostly on the birthing ball with my husband sitting on the bed behind me to steady the ball and our doula sitting in front of me holding my hands. My husband talked to me almost nonstop the whole time, which I needed in order to stay relaxed. He didn?t use the exercises really, but he recited a lot of the birthing prompts over and over, and added his own encouraging words. When I would break out of it, to go to the bathroom or answer questions from the nurse, etc. the surges were much harder to manage. When I would have a surge while my husband was speaking to me, I was able to ride it out much more easily. I was even nodding off in between them.
By about 2:00, I was starting to get tired, both from lack of sleep and from the contractions. They still weren?t completely unbearable, but despite hypnobirthing suggestions, they were getting painful. I had not admitted to anyone (including myself) but I think a part of me was still convinced that, like my first birth, I would use the techniques to get to a certain point, and then get the epidural. Now that I was getting to that point, I was starting to lose my Happy Thoughts. My husband and doula were so encouraging. I laid on the bed for a while and listened to Rainbow Relaxation ? and I actually dozed in and out between contractions. I agreed to be checked again around 3:30, and was 8.5 cm. They offered to break the membranes to hurry her along, but I declined. Partly I was worried about feeling even MORE pressure, even though knew that I?d have to go through that pressure in order to get her out.
They left the room, and I rolled on my side in the bed and listened to the Rainbow Relaxation again, and that?s when my waters broke. WOW! I felt a HUGE gush and actually thought I?d pooped all over myself. At that point, I told them I wanted the epidural. I was just crying and saying how I?d tried but I?d had enough. They called everyone back in and my OB checked me. She said that she knew how much I wanted this and how great we had done, and then she said?. If I didn?t get the epi, I would probably have the baby out in 15-30 minutes. I had wanted to use the Breathing Down techniques we learned in our Hypnobirthing class, but the OB said that she had a mother the day before use that technique and it took her 5 hours to birth the baby. Whether it was true or she just wanted to go home, I don?t know, but that?s all I needed to hear ? I was going to push. Also, the baby had passed the meconium and I wanted to have her taken care of.
They got ready, and I felt a contraction coming, and started to push. I could feel her beginning to move down the birth canal (birth path), but I was having trouble focusing. I didn?t want to listen to anyone, I just wanted this to be done and over. I got to the point where her head was almost out, and thought, ?There?s the ring of fire!? I barely noticed that though, because now the pressure was incredibly intense. Somewhere in my mind I thought I had better take a break so I had time to stretch and not tear. I stopped pushing for a second, and then resumed with the next contraction. I think it was at that point that I was yelling pretty loudly at my daughter ? I?m not proud of it, but I was ready to be DONE, so I kept shouting ?CLAIRE!? much to everyone?s amusement. I guess most women yell at the father, not the baby! J She was finally born at 4:50 p.m. ? after 15 minutes of pushing. Her head was actually round, not cone-shaped, since she came out so quickly. Claire Alethia weighed 8lb 2oz and was 19.5? long.
I had two tears ? one very small near the perineum and one about 1 cm long on the upper side. Yeah, not fun (especially getting stitched up!), but I actually haven?t had any pain from them. Claire is a great nurser once she gets going, and we are so glad to have our family all together at last.
David ? 5/10/05
Claire ? 3/25/08