A good way to start any story is with a little background. So I will start by telling a brief story of the birth of my first and hospital experience. When I found out I was pregnant with my first, I did not know much about, well, anything! Especially not birth. I have always been more prone to go the natural route and have always had success in doing so, that much I knew.
I went to an OBGYN and on my first visit she told me I better be drinking a ton of water, I had a huge water bottle sitting right next to me. I figured if she couldn’t even notice that, how could she be attentive to me at my most vulnerable. I then did some research and found a group of midwives that did hospital water births, I started going there and they were my care providers for my first birth.
I had a good experience with them, and always felt taken care of, but still had a lot of questions and felt a little alone on some things. I started going to Bradley birthing classes and that was the biggest support for me with my first birth. Alright, let’s get to the birth! On the morning before my due date, I leaked some amniotic fluid, told my mom, who made me call my midwives and they advised me to go in to the hospital. They told me I wasn’t leaving until I had a baby. I was… scared.to.death.
I had no signs of labor, they started talking about induction, I thought NO WAY. I had a birth plan; I was going to do this natural. I suggested they break my bag of water to get things started, they did, and things got started. My body went into contraction overload, literally. For the last 3 hours of my labor I did not get but a second between contractions. IT WAS TERRIBLY PAINFUL. I would scream out for an epidural, and then change my mind. I couldn’t move; the pain overtook me. I was not progressing; the numbers were very, very discouraging. The last time I asked for an epidural, my midwife told me it was too late, we were too close, at that moment, I thought….ok! I can do this! My labor was 9 hours long, 3 hours were excruciating, I pushed for 52mins and then gave birth to my beautiful baby boy…on his due date. He was 7 lbs 12 oz and 21.5 inches long. We named him Jonah Alexander. He was perfect, and so worth going through all that pain for.
A year and half later, I found out I was pregnant with my second. Honestly, I was pretty terrified of everything to do with giving birth. But, I was still determined to have an out of hospital birth. I met with several midwives, and landed on one at a free standing birth center. Alma midwifery, in Portland Oregon. I went there for all of my prenatal visits and felt SO taken care of. I would compare being there to being at the spa; I am in love with that place and all of the women there. I had some serious anxiety about giving birth though, I was afraid of the pain, and afraid that I would not progress and have to be transferred to the hospital, and I didn’t know what it felt like to go into labor naturally. My midwife took the time to talk me through these fears; she reassured me that my body knew exactly what it was doing. She trusted me, and my body, more than I did. Okay, now for the birth!
May 27th, 2013, 7 days past my due date. We had one of those amazing family days. Just me and my boys, relaxing at home, took a trip to the grocery store, made dinner, I was feeling wholesome and loved. It was a great day. Didn’t sleep too well that night, which was very strange considering the lovely day I just had. Woke up in the morning and just felt…blah. Went to the bathroom, had some mucusy looking stuff, brushed it off and started my day. Didn’t really feel like eating, mom came over, started having what I thought might be contractions. This was at about 11am.
Called the midwife, she says to take it easy, I may be in labor, we will play it by ear. I didn’t really think I was in labor, having lite contractions every 5 – 10 – 12 – 15 - 8 mins. Texted Charlie, told him what was going on and he said to let him know if anything progressed and he would leave work. Texted him a couple hours later and said “I think I might be in labor, I’ll let you know when you need to come home”. He said ok and started coming home, because he had a feeling it would be soon. I was talking to my midwife, we were trying to keep me out of any traffic to get to the birth center as it was now around 5pm, I still wasn’t sure if I was in labor, even though she says she is excited and thinks I will be meeting my baby tonight!
I got in the shower, and had 4 contractions while I was in there, when I came out I asked my mom how long I was in there, she said about 20 mins, that meant my contractions were 5 mins apart! Still wasn’t sure if I was in labor. Charlie gets home; I’m outside, just hanging out, having contractions, enjoying myself. He says we should probably head to the birth center. I tell him not yet, I wasn’t ready, I wanted to hang out in the backyard some more. A few minutes later I went upstairs to try and take a nap, I was contracting about a minute a half apart then, my two year old was cuddling me, I was still doing great, there was no way I could really be in labor! At this point we head to the birth center. I finally knew I was in real labor as I was contracting about every minute on the way to the birth center.
We arrive at the lovely birth center and my midwife runs out to greet me and help me inside. They have the room I wanted – The Fern Room (Yes!) ready and waiting for me. I collapse into my midwives arms on the way in as I’m contracting. She says to me, you are so, so close, you are going to meet your beautiful baby soon! I have a few contractions in the room and decide to get in tub.
After only a few contractions in the tub I feel a strong urge to push, the contractions were intense. I looked into my midwives eyes and told her it hurt so bad, she was so loving and nurturing to me. Her assistants were standing by and Charlie was doing all the right things, rubbing my back, holding me up, telling me how great I was doing. Even then, I did not feel lost and out of control. I was totally zoned into my body. I was making my contractions work for me, keeping my voice low like Ina May Gaskin advised in her book. It worked. It really, really worked. Before I knew it, I pushed the head out, fast. Then out came the body, fast! My baby girl was born!
She was born so fast, that I don’t think she was quite ready. It took her a couple minutes to take her first breath. She had good heart tones, and was moving; I was worried but knew that everything was going to be okay. I gave her a little breath, and shortly after she came to. She was perfect! I named her Audrey River; she was born in the Fern room at 8:09 pm. She weighed 8lbs 12oz and was 20 in long. She latched right away and worked hard to gets lots of milk :). She has had a sweet demeanor since the minute she was born; she is the sweetest little baby ever!
My dilation was not checked once during my entire pregnancy or labor. My midwife told me she knew I was having my baby very, very soon and I trusted her. I thoroughly enjoyed giving birth this time around, it was like a vacation. It is an experience that means the world to me. I feel like I’ve been somewhere only some women go, I have traveled through the passage way to womanhood. There is no explaining what that accomplishment feels like, and it’s best to not even try, because if you’ve done it, you know the feeling. I’m damn proud of myself, and you should be proud of yourself, too!