I am a military wife who had high expectations for my second labor and delivery after a not-so-great experience of an induction (selfishly chosen) with my first baby at 40 weeks. I chose to be induced the first time on my EDD so that my husband could be there for it, as he was leaving for 5 months of training. It wasn’t terrible, but it was definitely not what I wanted. After nearly 36 hours of labor (17 active with pitocin), we welcomed our first son into the world, but I was so exhausted from the pitocin contractions that I did not get to enjoy those first few hours with him.
The second time, I knew what I wanted. Once again we were faced with the possibility of my husband not being there since he was due to deploy within days of my EDD. I found a fantastic birth doula who would be my rock if I ended up cooking my babe to perfection a bit longer than expected. I had been having inconsistent and non-painful contractions for a few days. The day before my due date, I woke up with a whole lot of nothing. I went about my day as normal, checked in with my doula to let her know nothing was going on and made sure that our bags we ready, on the off chance that something did happen. Around 7:30 p.m. I was laughing at my dog for giving me the sideways dog glances. I thought I peed myself from laughing so much, but I had a pop feeling in my pelvic area. Almost instantly after I assumed I peed myself, the first contraction came on awfully strong. Two minutes later, another. And again. And again. I told my husband to not get too excited, because I had been experiencing the random contractions for weeks. To be on the safe side, I called my doula to ask her to come over, as my plan was to labor at home for as long as possible. Less than 10 minutes later I called her back to let her know to just meet me at the hospital. These were getting painful and closer!
We dropped my oldest off at a friends house and calmly started our 20 minute drive. My husband talked me through every contraction along the way. Keeping focused on his voice definitely helped. We got there around 9:30 p.m., and I just gushed all over the examining table. The doctor said that it was absolutely my water. After it calmed down a bit, he did a check of my cervix and said I was 100% effaced and very close to 4cm dilated. I was admitted. I pulled out my birth plan to make sure the nurses and doctor knew exactly what was going to happen. We had previously brought them a copy for my files and everything in it was agreed to be followed. Unfortunately, I got the mean nurse I had encountered before. She was apparently pretty threatened by my doula, since she spent a good 20 minutes arguing with her over her right to tell me about the epidural, even though it clearly stated in my birth plan to not even mention it unless I ask. In that 20 minutes, she blew 2 of my veins. I was group B+ so I had to receive antibiotics. She sent my doula from the room and threatened to have her removed from the premises if she “overstepped her boundaries”. At this point, I was in full on tears over her arguing with my doula. My husband, being the superhero, told her that my doula was to be present at all times and she would be my voice when I didn’t have one. She very obviously was unhappy and proceeded to tell me that I was not allowed to be off the monitors and that I could not use the shower or the birthing ball. That nurse left and never reentered my room.
The new nurse was awesome! She brought me the birthing ball and offered the shower to me. She also let me off the monitors as soon as my first round of antibiotics was complete. At this point, my contractions were back to back and I had terrible back labor. My doula showed my husband how to do the massages and he countered the pressure with each contraction. We laughed, listened to music, looked at pictures and videos of my oldest son. At one point I told her I could not handle the pain and was afraid I would be in labor for as long as I was the first time. She told me to go to the restroom and empty my bladder. One of the biggest reasons I did not want an epidural was due to the catheter. My husband walked me to the toilet and I continued to labor there for at least 15 minutes. Little did I know, sitting on the toilet rushed me into the beginning stages of transition! By the time I made it back to the bed, I asked the nurse to check me and call in the epi. She asked if I was sure and I told her that I was not sure, but I was scared. I was at a 5. She checked baby’s heartbeat and he was still going steady. Less than 20 minutes later I asked her why it hurt so bad, to which everyone kind of chuckled and had the ‘because you are in labor’ look on their face. She asked if I would like to be checked again. I agreed. She took a look and said “You don’t need this epidural, Amber. You’re baby is coming NOW!” Cue the deer in the headlights look. She JUST told me that I was a 5! In less than 20 minutes I went from 5 to complete! My husband gave me the biggest smile ever and said “You did it! We did it! No epidural!”.
One of the other nurses asked if I would be able to hold off until the doctor, who was delivering another mom at the moment, could make it in. I looked at Katie, the nice nurse, and shook my head no. She said “Alright, I’m going to deliver your baby. Are you okay with that?” to which I just smiled as my body took over and pushed on it’s own, without me thinking or trying. One push. That is all it took. One push and my beautiful 7lb 11.5oz baby boy, who had been sunny side up, was delivered into my arms. The only thing not natural about my delivery was the antibiotics and the fact that I was sitting in a hospital bed. Then I realized I never got my second round of antibiotics. I looked up at the clock. 12:13 a.m. Less than 5 hours from my water breaking. They let us do skin to skin right away while we waited for the cord to stop pulsating before it was cut. He was latched to me.
My perfect birth. My first experience breastfeeding. I felt so empowered, so high on life. After our hour of skin to skin was up, they took him to the other side of the room to check his vitals. I got up out of bed, went to the restroom, walked around. I could not comprehend how much difference there was between my first and second. I never had anything for pain, not even Tylenol in the days following. When someone asks me what I would do if we have a 3rd, I tell them that, hands down, I would have the natural experience a million times over before I’d ever consider being induced again.
Photography by Angela Roper Photography
Doula Services and Encapsulation Provided by Elsie Naturally Placenta Encapsulation