My birth journey began prior to even conceiving our daughter. My husband and I have a beautiful son who was born in 2006 and I thought his birth was wonderful with the exception of my water breaking at 34 weeks and labor started shortly after. I had an epidural and only felt about a hour of pain. I walked away from his birth telling every expecting mother to get the epidural because it’s just wonderful. I was even excited prior to his birth when my doctor mentioned inducing because of the unexplained severe swelling I was having. I just couldn’t wait to meet our little boy and never once was I informed of the consequences! Sadly, I didn’t even breastfeed. I was formula fed and I just thought that was the way to go.
“Fast forward 5 years and I am a completely different person. I had always been the type of person who would never in a million years consider having an unmedicated birth and I thought women who did were insane, but when my husband and I decided to have another baby something in me snapped. “I thought back to my birth with my son and realized that I couldn’t remember much of it. All I could remember was the nausea from anesthesia, I remembered how drugged I felt, I remembered when my blood pressure dropped dangerously low because of the epidural, and I remembered my son’s heart beat dropped with it. I remembered the panic when they told me that if it doesn’t improve then I would have to have a c-section. Thankfully that did not happen, but it seemed like all I could remember was the negative aspects of his birth. I sadly remembered when he was whisked away to the NICU and then the heartache of having to leave him in the hospital when I was released to go home.
As soon as I found out I was pregnant, I right away started reading about my options. I read a book called “Easy Labor” which listed every option to give birth from unmedicated to medicated. I came to a section about HypnoBirthing. I had never heard of it before, but every story was positive so I decided that is what I was going to do. I was going to give birth gently and calmly with no drugs. Everybody thought I was crazy including my husband. He remembered how I couldn’t handle the pain with my son and surely there is no way I could do it now. As soon as we had our first class, he changed his mind. We both realized that my body was made to do this and I can and will do this. There is nothing to fear giving birth to our child. This is what I was MADE to do! This baby was giving me the opportunity to change the way I feel about birth. I could have an empowering birth and educate other women that they are capable of doing the same. In my research to have an empowering birth, I also realized how important breastfeeding is too. Not only for nutrition, but for the instant bonding that I never got to experience with my son since he was in the NICU.
We spoke with our OB and she was supporting me 100%. She even recommended a hospital that now considers their labor & delivery an in hospital birthing center. They even took down all of their labor & delivery signs and all of the nurses are required to be certified doula’s. Everything was falling into place until my 30th week of pregnancy. I started have pre-term contractions. I was so scared that I was going to have another baby early. Thankfully the contractions seemed to stop until my 33rd week and then they started back up again. I chose not to be on any medication to stop the contractions so my doctor ordered me on bed rest until my 36th week. The next three weeks went by so slow, but thankfully no baby. I even went back to work and a week later when I was 37 weeks, that is when our daughter decided she wanted to be born.
It all began on September 16th at 6:00AM. This is the day that my mother had always predicted she would arrive since it is also my deceased grandmother’s birthday. After all, how special would it be for my daughter to share her birthday with the woman who gave life to my father. When I had woken that morning, I had mistakenly thought my water had broke. I was so convinced that I text all my friends and family to tell them that “it’s time” and even woke my husband up to get ready. I decided to take a shower and get ready since I knew it would probably be a while before I get a chance to take a shower at the hospital. I even did my hair and makeup which seems a little silly now.
We arrived at the hospital shortly after 8:00AM and get taken back straight to triage for the required 20 minute monitoring and to run test to confirm rather my membranes had actually ruptured. As I’m waiting for all of the test to come back, I started getting some pretty consistent contractions that were about 3-4 minutes apart. They weren’t too uncomfortable so I just breathed through the surges and remained relaxed. When the test came back negative for amniotic fluid, I was told that I was being sent home. I asked them about the contractions that have now started and they said that I’m probably in the early stages of labor and to just go home, relax, and take a hot bath. It was a little frustrating to know that I was being sent home and even made me think that maybe having the baby at home wouldn’t be such a bad idea. My husband even suggested going to a different hospital, but I refused. I chose that hospital because of their support of natural birth. Later on, I realized that sending me home was probably the best decision anyways. I could comfortably labor at home and go back to the hospital when the time was right. We walked the hospital floors for a little bit and I had to pause several times during the contractions. I finally told my husband to take me home so I could labor there and we would be back when things started picking up.
We returned home around 1:00 PM and the contractions started intensifying. I was worried that maybe it wasn’t real labor so I decided to try different things to see if they would stop. I layed on my left side and tried drinking some water, but they just kept coming. My husband drew a hot bath for me and the bath actually made them more intense and closer together. That’s when I knew that it was true labor. I remember laying in the bath tub and wondering how I was going to do this. Every time I had that fear in my head that I was going to give up, I would just close my eyes and imagine the joy I will feel holding my baby girl in my arms completely alert and happy. At about 5:00 PM and with my contractions getting closer together, I decided it was time to head back up to the hospital. The whole time My husband just kept reminding me of my HypnoBirthing breathing and to relax and not tense up just like we had learned in class. He really was my backbone during the whole process and I don’t know what I would have done without him.
By the time we arrived back at the hospital, my contractions were about 2 minutes apart and all in my back. I was quickly examined and told that I was in active labor! I text my birth photographer to let her know and to start heading my way. My wonderful supportive nurse looked over my birth plan and assured me that she would support my natural birth plan and would intervene only at my request which really made me feel more secure about my decision in staying with the hospital. I loved that I wasn’t forced to have an IV, I wasn’t confined to my bed with monitors, I wore my own clothing, and I was able to eat and drink (even though I had absolutely no desire to). They provided me a birthing ball, jacuzzi tub, and a supportive nurse. That’s all I ever needed!!
It was suspected that Sophia was sunny side up and that is probably why I was feeling so much pressure in my back. The nurse had me get on all fours and showed my husband how to press on my back during each surge so we could try to flip the baby. After about 20 minutes, the pressure in my back seemed to let up some and I was more than ever determined that I could do this. Once my photographer arrived, it felt like she was almost acting as my doula at one point instead of my photographer by encouraging me to try the birthing ball and even the tub. The birthing ball was amazing and helped ease my back labor even more and I had never been so blessed to have her there helping me too. I was even laughing and talking in between contractions and both the nurse and my photographer kept telling me how amazed they were. After about 45 minutes on the birthing ball, we decided to move to the tub. That tub was my best friend at that moment and I would have given birth in there if they had allowed me to.
I’m not going to lie. There were moments when I wanted to give up. I remember looking at my husband and telling him that I was done. I was just ready to be comfortable and not have to concentrate on every surge/contraction. My nurse and husband both encouraged me to keep going and to not give up. It’s so funny now, but I remember my husband looking into my eyes and telling me that I can do this and to just think of all the people who doubted me. I can leave this experience and show those people what I’m capable of. I had never felt so strong in my life when he said those words to me.
I spent about 30 minutes in the tub and then moved to the bed to check and see how much progress we had made. I had just a lip of cervix and a bulging bag of waters. Even though I initially did not want any intervention whatsoever, I decided that I wanted them to break my water for me. I think I had hit my breaking point and just wanted it to be over already. I was ready to meet my baby girl!
The on call resident came in at 11:00PM and broke my water. I immediately felt an urge to push and just a few short minutes later at 11:04 PM, without the OB even being there, without forced pushing or “purple pushing”, without the bed being setup for delivery or even without those harsh hospital lights, my baby girl gently came into this world crying as loud as her little lungs would allow her. I brought my baby into this world exactly how I had wanted and had hoped for.
My husband cut the cord soon after she was born and she was taken over to the bassinet to be looked over. My wish was skin to skin contact immediately after birth, but the resident was concerned that she may have a broken clavicle for how quickly she came out. I had to remember that it may not always play out how I would like it to be, but as long as the baby is happy and healthy, then that is all that matters. Once they looked her over, I got to hold my sweet angel for the first time.
Shortly afterwards, the OB finally made it to the room and the resident and nurse filled her in on how quickly Sophia’s birth was. They were not expecting her to just slip out after my water was broken. The OB checked me over and said how amazed she was that I had no tearing at all! The nurse wouldn’t stop talking about how amazing I did and she had never seen anything like it before. I had a smile from ear to ear!
Once I was all cleaned up, my husband and photographer left Sophia and I alone for a few moments so they can go let our family know that was waiting in the waiting room that she was here. I was able to spend her first few moments with just me and her while she nursed for the first time. It was a bonding experience that I could never put into words and 3 months later, we are still nursing. Another accomplishment that I am so proud of!
We left the hospital a few short days later with my baby in my arms. I sat there waiting for valet to bring our car and I just had a smile on my face and tears in my eyes. My husband looked at me and asked what was wrong. I told him absolutely nothing! I’m just so happy that I got a second chance to experience everything a mother should. For the first time, I’m leaving a hospital with my precious baby in my arms instead of empty handed and walking away with a different experience that I will treasure forever!
I constantly think about this day and how empowered I had felt. I wish more women knew what they were capable of. My husband continues to tell me how proud he was of me that day and that it felt like he married me all over again. As a wife and mother, that is all I could ever ask for!
Here is our picture slideshow…
Photography by Shara Tietz Photography.