Eleanor's Natural Birth Story — The Bump
Birth Stories

Eleanor's Natural Birth Story

I love reading birth stories so I thought I'd post my own.  It's very long (taken straight from my blog so I didn't have to re-type) and detailed but I wanted to share.

I started having some mild cramping and a few contractions around 2-3am the morning of July 19.  I went to sleep thinking that my rest might be short lived and hoping that it would turn into something more.  When I woke up around 9 I was disappointed that the contractions had disappeared.  I was determined to try and kick start things again so I set out in search of air conditioning so I could walk in comfort since it had been in the 90s all week.  I ran a ton of errands and went from store to store just walking the aisles (ok, and picking up a few last minute onesies and kimono shirts for the baby) and having fairly regular contractions the entire time.  I was hesitant to tell anyone that I thought I might actually be in labor since my contractions had stopped so abruptly before, I didn?t want to be the Girl That Cried Labor, only to be disappointed later. 

DH came home from work and as soon as the sun went down and things cooled off, we headed out with the dogs for a brisk walk.  I was still feeling contractions but they weren?t very consistent.  We hung out at home for the rest of the night and did a few things around the house just in case.  At 10pm I decided to call our doula and let her know that things might be happening.  She told me to get as much rest as I could and call her as soon as we needed her.  We went to bed around midnight but I couldn?t sleep.  I didn?t want to wake DH since by then I had a pretty good feeling that it was finally the real deal and I wanted him to be as rested as possible!  Lying down was really uncomfortable so I labored on the yoga ball for awhile and tried to relax as best as I could on the couch.  Things started picking up and I was able to time the contractions but it was still too early to head to the hospital.  I wanted to labor at home as long as possible so I kept bouncing on the yoga ball and taking hot showers.  Around sunrise I decided I had to wake DH since the pain was becoming pretty intense.  He got up and helped me through the contractions and we kept timing them.  The usual rule for when to head to the hospital is either 5-1-1 or 4-1-1 which means your contractions should be 5 (or 4) minutes apart, lasting for a minute each and have been happening for an hour.  Since we were so close to the hospital and wanted a natural birth, our midwife recommended waiting until the contractions were 2 or 3 minutes apart instead.  The problem was that my contractions weren?t lasting quite a minute long (more like 45 seconds) even though they were getting to be 3 or 4 minutes apart and increasing in pain and intensity.  I had DH call the on-call midwife around 5:30 to let her know that my labor had started but we were hesitant to come in since the contractions weren?t lasting the full minute.  She suggested we hang out at home for a little longer in hopes that they would bump up to a minute long.  She also said that the next on-call midwife would be in at 8 and to keep her updated on my progress. 

For the next few hours I kept laboring on the yoga ball and I took a couple hot showers.  I actually had Scott put a folding chair in the shower so I could sit and have the water on my back.  I didn?t know it at the time, but I was experiencing back labor since the baby had turned slightly and that was making things more difficult.  Around 8:30 I decided that I needed a change of venue and that we should get ready to go to the hospital.  I tried (unsuccessfully) to eat a bagel to keep my energy up but then opted for a Carnation Instant Breakfast since drinking was easier and I figured the protein would be more beneficial.  We got packed up and with a teary goodbye to the dogs, we were off to have our baby! 

We checked in at 9:30 and got set up in our room.  I was offered an IV or a Hep lock but declined since the midwives would allow me to drink water or other beverages during labor to stay hydrated.  Our nurse also offered to run a blood screen that would speed up the epidural process if I ended up getting one, but I declined that as well.  These were things that we had discussed at previous appointments and were part of our birth plan.  Unfortunately, monitoring the baby and my contractions (albeit intermittently) were mandatory so I had to lie down for awhile so they could make sure the baby was handling the contractions.  The midwife came and checked me and I was happy to hear that I was 80% effaced and 5cm!  I had feared that she was going to tell me that all of that pain and those contractions were for nothing and I was still at 2cm and 0 effacement like I had been at my appointment the week before.  The news of progress gave me a little energy boost and we decided it might be time to let our families know what was happening.  DH made a few phone calls and that made it even more real.  We also called our doula and had her head in since being monitored in the bed was getting more difficult for me to handle. 

The next few hours passed in a daze.  Our doula had arrived with all of her goodies and set about making the room a little less hospital-like.  She removed the clock from the wall, pulled the shades, dimmed the lights and set out some electric candles.  I decided that a bath sounded nice so she ran the water for me and put some more candles in the bathroom.  I labored in the tub for quite awhile and remember cracking a few jokes about being the center of attention since at one point I looked up and the doula, the midwife, and DH were all hanging out in the bathroom just watching me get through each contraction.  At some point I had come up with a breathing technique that helped me focus and get through the pain.  DH held my hand and helped keep the breathing on track when I started to waver.  Our doula had her essential oils out and was putting cold lavender compresses on my forehead and neck since the bath was making me warm, and she would spritz me from time to time with lavender to help me relax.  The lavender scent was something we planned on using since it is a comforting fragrance for me personally, and it is known for its ability to create a calming atmosphere.  I had been using it at home in the months prior when I started feeling anxious or when I visualized my birth experience.  I hoped that my previous use for relaxation purposes would help create a ?scent memory? when I was in labor, and I really think it worked.  We had the candles flickering and Amos Lee playing in the background and for the most part, I was pretty comfortable. 

Around 1:30pm I asked our midwife to check my progress and I had dilated to 8cm but still had some effacement to go.  The baby had moved down more and my contractions were becoming more intense.  I had our nurse bring in the birthing stool since I wasn?t at all comfortable on the bed.  I sat on the stool with the doula behind me applying counter pressure to my back while DH sat in front of me so I could lean on him.  During contractions I looked into my husband's eyes to help me focus on my breathing technique and after they were over I would lay my head on his shoulder to rest.  I also remember joking with him that he needed to eat something before things got crazy because I could hear his stomach rumbling with hunger. 

At 2 I asked to get back into the tub again.  The warm water made me more comfortable and helped me rest a little in between contractions.  I didn?t even need the jets on, just floating in the warmth made it easier for me to relax and let my body work with the contractions.  I tried to let the pain work for me instead of me work against the pain.  During each contraction I would reach for Scott?s hand, close my eyes and use my breathing technique to get through it.

Around 3 I was out of the tub and the midwife asked if I wanted to be checked again.  I moved back to the bed and learned that I was still at 8cm but the baby had moved down to station 3.  She could also feel my bag of waters bulging and asked if I wanted her to rupture them for me to give me another kick start and I agreed.  

After that, I hit the wall.  I was exhausted from being awake for over 30 hours and extremely grumpy.  I was aslo incredibly dehydrated at this point and the nurse suggested an IV to get some fluids in me.  I was too tired to argue even though it had been part of my plan to go without an IV.  The nurse tried twice to get the IV in and failed on both attempts.  I was so dehydrated that my veins wouldn?t support the needle.  Before she could try a third time I announced I?d just drink some juice to help rehydrate myself and get my blood sugar up.  I had also become pretty grumpy and was experiencing hot and cold flashes so the doula and DH alternated between wrapping me in warm blankets or putting cool washclothes on my forehead.  The bad mood, and hot and cold flashes could only mean one thing: transition.  I was hunched over on the birthing stool, holding onto Scott for support and falling asleep in between contractions.  The doula, DH, and the midwife were starting to get concerned about my energy level and the fact that I needed to get up and move around if I wanted to make progress and start pushing.  They sent me to the bathroom so they could pow-wow on how to get me to cooperate and when I came out, the doula had opened the curtains to let in light and switched to peppermint and citrus aromatherapy to perk me up.  They tried to coerce me to either get on all fours and sway back and forth on the bed or to start slow dancing with DH.  I was so tired and felt really defeated so it was a big task to get me to cooperate.  Finally, DH convinced me to dance with him and I?m so glad I did.  Leaning on him and swaying to the music helped me regain my focus.  We still had Amos Lee playing in the background (the Mission Bell album was on repeat all throughout my labor, even though I hadn?t planned on it, it was what I requested when I first got in the tub and kept asking for it to be started over again) and I could feel my body relax a little bit as I burrowed my head into Scott?s chest and we moved to the music.  Looking back, I can?t help but think how romantic it was to ?dance our baby out.? 

After a little bit of dancing, the midwife asked to check me again to see if gravity had done it?s job.  I had progressed to 10cm but still had a little bit of cervix in the way.  During my next few contractions I pushed gently so she could move it out of the way and I remember that as being more painful than actually pushing the baby out!

At 5:50pm I was ready to push.  I started out on the birthing stool but quickly found that it wasn?t comfortable for me.  I got back on the bed and laid on my right side with my knee pulled up, but that wasn?t working either.  The midwife suggested putting up the U-bar over the bed and tying a sheet to it so I could have some leverage.  This worked the best and I was so ready to meet my baby, I closed my eyes and pushed with each contraction.  DH and the midwife were enthusiastically praising my pushes and my doula was a quieter voice, encouraging me by telling me how wonderfully I was doing.  With those three voices, I continued to push with all my might and on July 20 at 6:21pm, Eleanor Faye was born.

She was immediately put on my chest and I can?t even describe that feeling.  It is overwhelming to think about even now.  She was bigger than I thought she?d be and a lovely shade of lavender.  I can?t remember if she cried, but her eyes were wide open, ready to take in everything.  I cried and cuddled her, absorbing her perfection.  Her feet that I?d been anxious to see since she had been kicking me in the ribs so ferociously the last two weeks.  Her cute button nose and the surprising cleft in her chin.  DH and I exclaimed these observations to each other, in complete wonderment that we had created such a beautiful little life together.  We kissed over her perfect purple head and stared in awe at her and each other.

40 weeks and 4 days of waiting.  7 months of trying.  3 years of marriage.  All culminating in one moment that has forever changed me.  A moment that is not only the birth of a child, but the birth of a father, a mother, and a family. 

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