Birth Stories

Eden's Natural Birth - LONG

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Today is exactly 3 months from the day I went into labor. How is that possible already?! I'm honoring my experience by posting Eden's birth story. I hope it can be an encouragement to someone! :) 

Eden?s estimated due date was August 30th, but I always had a feeling that she would be a September baby. So when my due date came and went, I was not anxious or worried. I continued to stay active and busy, enjoying each day. I had been having irregular contractions for several weeks but had not noticed any signs of true labor. I had a doctor?s appointment on Wednesday, September 7th, when I was 41 weeks and 1 day pregnant. Thankfully, my obstetrician had always been supportive of our plans to have a natural, medication-free childbirth. However, since I was eight days overdue, she wanted to discuss possible induction methods. They conducted a biophysical profile (a detailed ultrasound that monitors the baby?s body movements, muscle tone, breathing, and amniotic fluid), and the results indicated that everything was in the normal ranges. In our opinion, there was no reason to be overly concerned or to discuss inducing labor yet. My doctor still was not comfortable, however, and she wanted to perform a cervical exam. Up until this point, we had declined all cervical exams because we trusted my body to progress in its own time. At this appointment, however, John and I decided to have a cervical exam. I asked my doctor not to tell us any specific findings mainly because we did not want to become needlessly excited or discouraged. After the exam, my doctor made it very clear that she was comfortable with my progress and did not feel the need to schedule an induction yet. She stripped my membranes and went as far as to say that I had a ?very nice cervix,? so she did not think that I would make it through the weekend without going into labor. (After Eden arrived, I followed up with my doctor to find out what the exam had shown. At that appointment, I was 3-4 centimeters dilated, 70% effaced, and -2 station. No wonder she did not feel the need to discuss induction!) Even without knowing the details of the exam, my doctor?s demeanor convinced us that it would not be much longer until I went into labor. So when the weekend came and there were still no signs of true labor, I finally started to get anxious. I had another doctor?s appointment scheduled for Monday morning, and I knew that if I made it to that appointment, the doctor would definitely want to schedule an induction. We decided to make the most of the weekend and had a great day together on Saturday. We went out to brunch, took a two-mile walk, got some ice cream, and watched the UGA game together. 

On Sunday, September 11th, I was becoming more anxious. In my mind, I had only one more day to go into labor naturally and avoid an induction, and I was worried that I was not going to go into labor that day. John and I started to seriously consider natural ways to induce labor. We decided that I would try two things: using the breast pump and taking castor oil. I was very hesitant about the castor oil, but we went to the grocery store and bought some anyway. Around 8:30pm, I finally decided to take out our breast pump and try pumping to induce labor before taking the castor oil. I pumped for 10 minutes on each side and then took a 5-minute break. Then I pumped for another 5 minutes on the right side. I did not feel that pumping was making a difference, so I decided to take another 5-minute break before pumping on the left side again. I was sitting on the floor, feeling slightly frustrated, when I felt a little ?pop.? It took a second to register what had just happened, and I surprised John by saying that my water had just broken! This was right at 9:00pm. As soon as I stood up, the warm fluid started running down my legs, and John grabbed a dishtowel from the kitchen for me to use. We were both instantly excited, and John wanted to get upstairs immediately. I calmly reminded him that just because my water had broken did not mean that I was going to go into active labor immediately; therefore, we took a few minutes cleaning up downstairs before heading upstairs. I thought that we would be able to do some cleaning and maybe even lay down for a nap, so we started a load of laundry. It was around this time that I had my first true labor contraction, and I was surprised by the intensity! I got in the shower, thinking that I would be able to relax better in the warm water. I quickly realized that labor was going to be very challenging, and I asked John to start timing the contractions. The contractions were already coming every 4-5 minutes and lasting approximately 30 seconds. I also had horrible back labor that did not go away between contractions. I tried to relax like we had practiced, but the back pain made it nearly impossible. 

At 9:45pm, I asked John to call our doula Brooke to let her know what was going on. At this point, I assumed that we would labor through the night on our own before we would need Brooke to come. John updated Brooke and got some more recommendations about what we could do to make it through the night. At 10:00pm, he also called our Bradley Method instructor, Cierra, to get additional ideas to help with the back labor. We continued to labor together, but I was having a very hard time relaxing between contractions. I was burning up and could not find a comfortable position no matter what I tried! I would jump in the ice cold shower for a minute, and then get out to lie on the bed for another minute before jumping up again. I was pacing around the house and could not focus. I remember thinking that I was going insane because I could not calm down! The contractions and back pain were so intense, and I was already doubting my ability to birth naturally. I kept apologizing to John, saying that I was just not strong enough and that I wanted the epidural. John was amazing at reassuring me that I was doing great and that I would be able to have a natural birth like we had planned. 

At 10:36pm, I told John to call Brooke back and ask her to come over. I felt kind of silly for calling her back in less than an hour, but I felt out of control. In the back of my mind, I remember thinking that it was too early for her to come because my contractions were only lasting 30-45 seconds, and we had learned that 60-second contractions were important for cervical progress. However, it felt good to know that Brooke was on her way and that she would help us get through this. While waiting for Brooke, I was absolutely miserable. I called my mom and asked her to pray for me, hoping to feel comforted by her words. At 11:20pm, I asked John to call Brooke again and make sure she was on her way! I had so much pain in my lower back, and I did not think that I was going to be able to stand it much longer. Brooke arrived at 11:30pm. I was on the bed, very upset and uncomfortable. At this point, my contractions were 2 minutes apart and lasting for about 45 seconds. Brooke suggested that I try standing during contractions. She helped me get into a good position, leaning against John or the wall with my knees bent and swaying while she put counter pressure on my lower back. This position definitely helped me deal with the intensity of the contractions. I also made low groaning noises during each contraction. To my surprise, this really helped me to relax and focus on getting through the contractions.

A few minutes before midnight, Brooke suggested that we head to the hospital. I was worried about the car ride because I wouldn?t be able to stand up, but I was ready to get to the hospital nonetheless. John called my doctor?s office to let them know that we were on our way. We left the house right at midnight. John drove our car, and I rode in the backseat. Brooke followed behind us. The 15-minute car ride felt like one of the longest of my life! I had at least 5 contractions during the ride, and it was impossible to get comfortable in the back seat. The last 2 contractions that I had in the car were extremely intense, and I didn?t feel like I was going to make it to the hospital. When we got to the maternity center, John told the receptionist who we were, and she alerted a nurse. We only had to wait in the lobby for a few minutes, but I kept asking what was taking so long! When our nurse Carmen came to get us, I was totally out of it. I could barely talk or answer any of her questions. I was so focused on getting through each contraction that I didn?t care about anything else. Carmen took us to a room and we began to get settled. I had to use the bathroom almost immediately, and I noticed that the room did not have a soaking tub. I didn?t care at this point, but Carmen decided to move us to a different room so that we would have access to a tub if necessary. I felt like we walked forever to get to the new room!

When we got to the new room, I continued to stand because it was the only way I could deal with the contractions and back pain. At 12:40am, Carmen performed a cervical exam to check my progress. To our surprise, I was completely dilated! I remember Carmen saying to me, ?Are you ready to have a baby?? I thought she was exaggerating, so I asked exactly how far along I was. She responded that I was 10 centimeters dilated and could begin pushing when I felt the urge, although the baby was still high. I was so surprised to find out that I was completely dilated, and I felt a surge of hope. For the first time in hours, I felt that I was actually going to be able to do this! I did not have the urge to push yet, so Brooke started to fill up the tub for me to relax in. I still could not sit during contractions, however, so I either stood or squatted in the tub during each contraction. I don?t remember ever feeling a strong urge to push, but my body started pushing involuntarily around 1:00am. I soon realized that the contractions were not nearly as painful when I pushed with them. I told everyone that I wanted to push, so I got out of the shower and stood by the bed for a couple of contractions. Carmen got the bed ready and got me a squatting bar. I climbed onto the bed and officially began pushing! I pushed in the squatting position for about 20 minutes. Then I pushed in the hands and knees position for 15 minutes. I didn?t feel comfortable pushing in that position, so I got into a seated, reclined position at 1:40am. Brooke was on one side of me, and John was on the other. I had my legs propped up and used the handles of the bed or my knees to pull against during each contraction. Carmen watched for progress and soon announced that it was time to get the doctor!

When the doctor came into the room, he introduced himself and checked my progress. Three other nurses also came into the room with him. I started to feel very uncomfortable and overwhelmed by all of the people in the room staring at me and waiting for the baby. I stopped feeling the strong pushing contractions, and the baby started to regress. I was frustrated with this change of events, and I could tell that the doctor was too, which definitely didn?t help. The mind-body connection is so strong during labor, and the fact that I felt pressured to get the baby out actually caused me to stop making progress! I remember pushing only because I felt like I was ?supposed to,? and the doctor could tell that I was pushing without having a contraction. It was around this time that I looked tiredly at John and told him that I felt so distracted. The doctor took this hint and decided that he and the extra nurses would leave the room until I had made more progress. Although this was discouraging, I immediately felt more comfortable with only John, Brooke, and Carmen, and I was able to push effectively during contractions again! John said that after the extra people left, it only took a couple of pushes for him to see the head again. I remember Carmen joking that she would not call the doctor again until she saw ears so that there would be no turning back the next time he was there! I continued to push much more successfully, and soon I had made significant progress and Carmen called the doctor again. After he arrived for the second time, it only took a handful of pushes before the baby was born! I remember feeling a burning sensation as she crowned, and soon after, the doctor was laying her on my stomach. I only remember being relieved that the pushing was over, but John said that I looked at him and exclaimed, ?We did it! I can?t believe that we did it!? Eden Charis Percival was born on Monday, September 12, 2011 at 2:37am after 4 hours of active labor and 1? hours of pushing. She weighed 7 pounds 5 ounces and measured 19 inches long! Seeing her for the first time was truly life changing.

I held Eden close, memorizing her perfect little face, and John cut the cord when it stopped pulsating. The placenta was born approximately 5 minutes later. After the placenta was out, the doctor announced that I had a second-degree tear, and I decided to have the tear sutured. After the tear was repaired, my uterus continued to bleed steadily, causing me to lose a lot of blood. In order to stop the bleeding, I was given two Cytotec pills and a shot of Pitocin. The bleeding still did not stop and I was getting close to passing out, so I asked John to hold the baby. (No objection there!) Carmen laid the bed all the way back and waved ammonia in front of my face so that I would not pass out. It took some time, but they were able to get the bleeding under control. Although I was still very weak, I was able to nurse Eden for over an hour. She naturally had a wonderful breastfeeding latch, which was definitely a blessing! In addition, Eden was awake for several hours after her birth, and we spent that time bonding and learning each other. I?ll cherish our first hours together for as long as I live.

Although I can record the series of events surrounding Eden?s birth, I cannot begin to put into words the many emotions I experienced. The speed of her birth caused it to be extremely intense. Somehow God gave me the strength to get through it, even when I felt that I couldn?t go on any longer. I am truly thankful for the support of John, Brooke, and Carmen. John stayed by my side the entire time. He constantly reassured me and praised me. He never gave up on me, no matter how many times I said that I couldn?t do it anymore. Brooke was vital in keeping me focused. She would simply breathe steadily beside me, which reminded me to slow my breathing to match hers. When I was confused and overwhelmed with what was happening, I would look to her for guidance. Carmen was a wonderful nurse. She read our birth plan and respected our desires, which helped us to feel comfortable and supported. With these three people surrounding me, I felt safe and protected, and therefore was able to achieve a natural, medication-free birth. Eden?s birth was truly the hardest and most amazing experience of my life, but each day I look at her and think, ?For you, it was worth it!? 

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Re: Eden's Natural Birth - LONG

  • Thanks for sharing your story!! I'm so excited to try this for baby #2... LONG way to go but your story gives me motivation and inspiration!
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