You guys! I did it!! I had a natural, unmedicated delivery … and I lived! And I would do it again in a minute if it meant that at the end, I got to have this snuggled up on my shoulder.
To catch the blog up to date. I had my appointment on Wednesday, November 13 with Lesley. I had another cervical check done because we were both curious. I was 3cm and 50% effaced. Lesley said with confidence, “You’ll have this baby before your appointment next Tuesday.” I had a mini-freak-out that I somehow managed to keep inside … and decided it was a good day to finally pack the bag for delivery.
Light contractions started that night and continued off and on for the next three days. I spent a large part of the day on Thursday trying to ‘make’ things happen. I wore myself out and amped up some serious swelling on my feet and hands. I decided to lay low on Friday and Saturday instead of trying, in vain, to conjure something that would happen on its own and just needed to be given time.
On Sunday morning at 3:30, I was awakened by a contraction unlike those that I’d been experiencing. It was a contraction that made me go, “Oh, yeh! That’s what these things feel like!” And they kept happening every few minutes. I laid there, contracting and letting Kyle rest and trying to make myself go back to sleep. Kyle woke up at 5 and I told him what was going on. I timed for about an hour and found they were coming around 7-10 minutes apart. I willed myself back to sleep and was able to rest until around 8:30.
The rest of the day passed in a blur. There was a lot of walking and ball-bouncing in the mix. Contractions continued to gradually strengthen and gain in frequency throughout the day. The birth center’s labor instructions were to call in when you have had two hours of intense contractions – ones that you have to use your coping mechanisms to make it through. My first “intense” one came at 5:30. After that, I found that the only thing that could help me through a contraction was to have Kyle apply pressure to my hips and help me remember to keep them moving throughout each surge. He was also tasked with helping me remember to keep my jaw/face relaxed so the rest of my body would follow suit and allow what needed to happen to happen as easily as possible.
I have to interject here and say that my only previous experience with real contractions were the pitocin-induced contractions I had when laboring with Ivalee at the hospital. Those were one on top of the other and were only ever fully intense. So I was surprised by how evenly spaced these contractions were and – despite their intensity – I was able to handle them easily. That’s why when, after two hours of ‘using my coping mechanisms’, I talked myself into waiting thirty more minutes. Surely it had to get worse! And I did not want to be sent home when I got to the birth center!
So at 8, we called the after hours number to report what was going on. Lesley was on-call and when she returned my call, she said, “I can be there in 30 minutes. I’ll meet you there.”
Kyle had already put our bags and things in the car, so we hopped in and headed out. And at 8:30, he was loading all of those bags into the birthing suite where Lesley already had the water filling up the tub. She hooked me up to the two monitors for a few minutes – long enough to make sure baby’s heart rate was ok during contractions. (I remember watching the readings of teh contraction and thinking, “Oh gosh. These contractions aren’t as strong as they were earlier. She’s going to look at this and tell me I’m faking it. Maybe I am faking it. Maybe it’s time for us to go home and go to sleep.”) (None of that happened. Just tells you where my head was in those few minutes.)
Then another cervical check to see where we were.
7cm, 100% effaced, 0 station. We were there to have a baby. Thank you, Jesus!
So Lesley told me, “Our next step is to keep you comfortable and then you’ll let us know when it’s time to push.”
So I got ready for the tub, had a few contractions, and continued to pray I was ready for what was about to happen. I asked whether the student midwife would be coming for my birth. Lesley said she’d contacted her, but that she wasn’t able to make it in that night. Lesley said, “I told her that was fine. I kinda wanted to catch this one myself anyway.” While I’m sure they say that to all the girls, it was nice to hear anyway.
It wasn’t long before the nurse arrived who would also be attending the birth. Her name was Kim and she was great! Lesley told her, “She’s tolerating labor very well. Not quite in transition, but close. Been laboring at home since 3:30 this morning without calling in once and was 7cm when she showed up!” The best compliments are the ones that are spoken of you and not to you, you know? I felt like I’d already accomplished so much.
I stayed in the tub for a while. (Times are all foggy for the most part from here on out.) I noticed that my contractions slowed while I was in the warm water. Desperate for things not to slow down, I mentioned this to Kim, who assured me I had nothing to fear — that the water was assisting in my progression at that point. I got out of the water frequently for bathroom breaks and to keep things moving along. Even while in the water, Kyle continued to apply pressure to my hips during my contractions – from outside the tub and then later while sitting behind me.
I started dozing off between contractions in the water and ‘zen-ing out’ during the contractions – low-moaning, and deep-breathing and naturally going into a state of mind that I honestly feared I wouldn’t be able to go. This was the moment that I realized that I was here, I was doing it, and I was being pretty successful at it. So empowering!
After a bathroom break, I realized I’d gotten hot and hungry in the water and decided to take a break from the tub for a bit. I labored in a rocking chair for a while, with my feet propped on a birth ball. This position was the only one that gave Kyle a break from his hip duties. So I snacked on some cashews and sat there for quite a while. Kyle and Lesley and Kim chatted about iPad apps and music … and I labored quietly and easily nearby.
I don’t recall the exact conversation, but I think I wondered out loud whether I’d know if my water had broken while I was in the water. Lesley said I probably would know and offered to check me again if I wanted to know for sure. No pressure from her at all, so I decided to wait.
Several contractions and a bathroom break later, I let curiosity get the best of me. I wanted to know where we were and asked Lesley to check me. 9.5cm. Almost there. Somehow I’d made it through transition very easily. “How has this been so easy?! Why would anyone labor in any way but this?!?”
I asked Lesley to break my water — “Let’s get this show on the road!” — at around 1:30 or 2 AM. I was getting TIRED! Afterwards I got back into the tub. Things kicked into a higher gear at that point. Once he’d gotten out of the water the first time, Kyle had put on his dry clothes because it was cold in the room. (My bad, everybody but me. I was comfy!) At one point, I hit a place where I needed Kyle – like, NOW!! – and he hopped back in the tub in his clothes. It wasn’t long after that when I realized it was time to push. I told everybody what was happening and Lesley and Kim responded very calmly — “Alright. Do it!” So I did what I could until the sensation quickly passed. The next contraction was push-time from the get-go … and that was the time when my composure went totally out the window. There was a lot of screaming. After that contraction let up, Lesley firmly told me, “That cannot happen again. Focus. No more screaming.”
So I did my best to hold it together. I’m sure it was a sight. THIS was the worst part — the part I had been dreading. But graciously, it was also the shortest part of the whole process. Maybe six or seven painful and intense pushes later, and baby was out all the way at once.
Born in the water at 3:27am (almost exactly 24 hours after I’d been woken up by that first contraction); caught by the able hands of Lesley Rathbun; and brought into my arms as quickly as possible.
Kyle took a peak and a pause and announced, “It’s a girl.” Relief. For both of us. We could not decide on a boy name – despite trying up until the last minute … literally while I was in the tub laboring.
So Naomi Kate it was.
And she has proven to be a perfect addition to our family. She’s such a sweet baby. Ivalee loves kissing her “cute cheeks”. And her daddy and I were both just totally smitten from the start.
There is nothing in this world I would trade my for my birth experience at Charleston Birth Place. It was amazing for me and transformed me in ways I’m understanding differently every day. I feel so empowered. I’m not pretending it was the most graceful hour of my life, but I met the biggest obstacle I’ve ever faced and on the other side of it, I know I am stronger.
God is so good to our family to have given us two healthy pregnancies, and two different deliveries which produced two beautiful and healthy daughters. Our years as a family of three taught Kyle and me how to be parents. Our one night at the Charleston Birth Place gave us a new respect for the process and the beauty of birth. And we are better parents and better partners for that experience. And now we get to take those lessons and apply them to how we parent our two children.
Because we have two children now. Holy cow.
I prayed for this child, and the LORD has
granted me what I asked of him.
1 Samuel 1:27