My daughter's birth story starts out in September 2010. I mentioned to my doctor that my husband and I were planning on trying to start a family soon. She told me my odds of conceiving naturally were slim because of a problem with my ovaries that I'd had since 2005. She suggested I go to a fertility clinic before we start trying, which I refused as my husband and I wanted to try on our own, without intervention, at least for 6 months. So, October rolls around and wouldn't you know it, I take a pregnancy test and it's positive! Imagine my doctor's face when I tell her it took us one whole month of trying
We had a little scare at the beginning of my pregnancy that had me visit the doctor and land in emerg for a night so we didn't tell our families or friends we were expecting until Christmas day when I was 16 weeks along (thankfully, I wasn't showing yet so it was a big surprise!).
Waiting for the Big Day...
My pregnancy was pretty easy from that time on, after the morning sickness and 24-hour nausea stopped. My due date was Father's day, and we were so excited that our baby might be born then, what a special day that would be for a first time Dad! Well, that day came, and passed, with no signs of labor whatsoever. My OB wanted to induce me 4 days after my due date as the baby looked big. I knew I wanted a natural birth and didn't want to interfere with that in any way, so I declined and told her I wanted to wait as long as possible for labor to start on its own. I tried all of the natural methods to help kick start the labor process.... Castor oil, raspberry leaf tea, acupuncture, intercourse, walking, acupressure.... the only thing I got out of that were some fake contractions (thanks to the nasty castor oil, yuck).
My OB had me visit the hospital every few days for non-stress tests to make sure the baby was still doing ok, and they all went fine. At 9 days overdue, we made the decision to induce at 12 days past my EDD. Baby was measuring approx 8 1/2 lbs at that time and I was only dilated 1-2 cm still with no signs of oncoming labor. The day before I was scheduled to be induced, I'd given up on my desire to have a naturally occuring labor and fully natural birth. It was really disappointing for me.
At 2am, eight hours before we had to be at the hospital for the induction, I woke up with some funny stomach pains. Interestingly, the pains started happening at semi-regular intervals, keeping me awake. At 3am, I started timing contractions. At 4am, my contractions were 4 minutes apart. I was so excited! We headed to the hospital around 5am and I was absolutely thrilled that my labor had started on it's own... Our prayers were answered.
The Real Stuff
Active labor started at 9am. I went through phases where my contractions were irregular, and it was starting to get frustrating. At least two other women had come in after me, had taken meds to kickstart their labors, and had popped out their babies within hours. I wanted to meet my baby too!
My OB came in to check me in the late morning, and wanted to break my water to help get the contractions going. I didn't want my birth to be interfered with in any way, so before she did anything my Doula suggested I have the OB check me to see how far I was and how low the head was. Well, she checked me and said it looked like my water had already broken because she could feel the baby's head with nothing in the way. I thought it was strange as I didn't notice my water break, no leaking, nothing... but I didn't think much else of it.
So, more laboring. After a while, with much help from my Doula, we figured out what made my contractions stronger. We tried walking, using the birth ball, leaning against the wall, laying down, having a warm shower, getting in the jacuzzi tub. What seemed to really help was moving from sitting to standing, sitting to standing. As annoying as it was, it worked, and my contractions were getting bigger quite quickly. By late afternoon, I was dilated 6cm. We kept doing the sitting/standing thing until the contractions got to be so close together and painful that doing anything to get them going was the last thing from my mind! I was quickly at 8cm. The contractions were awful, I can definitely see why most people do take pain relief! I held onto my poor husband for every contraction and he was so amazing about encouraging me to keep going. I felt like I was screaming in pain but he assured me I wasn't screaming, just that I was groaning quite loudly
Finally, the nurse checked me again and I was fully dilated so it was time to get pushing. I thought this would be the worst part, but actually it was easier to push through a contraction than to just wait and be in agony through one. I barely remember pushing, my eyes were closed the entire time when it was all over I felt like I had been on another planet. My husband was telling me (afterwards) things I was saying and I don't remember any of it. It's amazing the way your body kicks into high gear and focuses on what it needs to!
As I started pushing, to the surprise of everyone, my water broke! The baby's head had been so far down, there was no water beneath her head which was why the OB didn't realize my water hadn't broken when she checked me earlier.
It took me a couple of pushes to get the hang of it. No one ever told me that pushing out a baby was pretty much the same as pushing out a giant bowel movement! I pushed for about 40 minutes when the baby's head finally fully emerged - the "Ring of fire" they call it, and now I know why! One of the biggest things I was worried about pre-birth was tearing, but honestly I didn't even realize it was happening when I was there and going through it. My body was going through so much all at once that I wasn't even worried about it either
The next contraction and push after the head was fully through, baby was completely out! The nurse put our baby girl on my chest and I was so excited to see her for the first time, she was absolutely beautiful and I couldn't believe she was mine! She was a healthy 9 lbs, 2 oz and 22 1/4 inches long. It seemed almost unreal that the squirmy little thing that had been growing in my belly for 9 months was now finally here with us! She is our little angel.
After the Birth
I was so happy to have had a fully natural labor with no pain relief or other interventions. It was the birth I'd always wanted. It was not easy and it was definitely the worst pain I had ever experienced, however it was completely empowering, exciting and given the opportunity I would do it all over again for such a precious reward!