With each of my pregnancies, I have changed my goals for labor slightly. For my first pregnancy, I was concerned with having a totally natural birth without any medication. My labor was incredibly long and slow, and by the end I felt like a zombie lying in bed waiting in fear of the next contraction. With my second pregnancy, I wanted to be more in control of my labor and feel like an active participant (God willing, this labor would also be much faster). I hired a doula, and had a much more active labor, even though it was still a long second labor. This summer as I prepared for my third baby boy, I felt confident from my last two labors that I could have a drug free, active labor, and my goal this time was to not tear my labia. They had torn badly with my first son, and again with my second. It seemed like a reasonable goal. Just keep things intact!
As my due date approached, I felt certain that I was still at least a week away from delivery since my last two pregnancies went a week overdue. At my 40 week visit I had the midwife strip my membranes to help move things along. I had a little spotting and cramping, but didn’t think much of it. However, six hours later, after driving an hour away to visit my cousin at college, I realized I was having contractions five minutes apart. They weren’t super strong, but they were regular. I drove home and called my husband to enact the “go plan”. I stopped at a friend’s house next to the hospital, and spent the next few hours walking up and down the street to help keep labor going. To much disappointment, the contractions basically stopped after about three hours. We all went home and tried to sleep, knowing that it could still be several days.
The next morning I walked my son to kindergarten and had some irregular contractions, but I tried not to focus on them. After a few hours of intermittent contractions at home, I decided to walk and walk and walk, and by noon, they were coming faster and stronger. I called the midwife when they were about 3 minutes apart and a minute long, and she told me to head in right then.
When we got to the hospital I was at 4 cm and 70% effaced, so I knew that I still had a long way to go and needed to keep walking, squatting, lunging, and whatever I could to bring the baby down. The contractions were strong enough that I needed to focus and breathe through them, and my wonderful husband and sister took turns squeezing my hips with each one to ease the pressure. I knew I didn’t want to be checked very often, because it would almost certainly ensure disappointment. My previous labors were very long and slow, and it took hours and hours to dilate to a 6. Unlike some women who have lightning fast labors with their 2nd and 3rd, mine seemed to be going at a glacial pace yet again, so I had to remind myself that this is okay, it’s just how my body works. I was afraid if they examined me and I was only a 5 it would dishearten me. So for a little over four hours I walked around and squatted with each contraction (I told you my labors are slow!)
I was supported by my husband, sister, Mom and mother-in-law throughout the labor. My sister brought along music for me, and it is probably one of the single greatest tools I used. During the contractions, I could close my eyes, nod along with the beat of the music and get through it! Between contractions I was singing along with the music, which let me take my mind off the anxiety of the next one. I was rocking out to everything from Queen to Flo Rida! Music is such a powerful and emotional part of being human, and it got me through many hours of pain. From this day on, “My House” by Flo Rida will always remind me of Connor’s labor!
My nurse was wonderful and came in about every 30 minutes to listen to the baby’s heartbeat. She worked around my positioning, whether I was in the tub, or on the ball or squatting on the bed. Other than the first 30 minutes of intake where I had to lay on my back with the monitors on, I was free to walk and roam and move. I know not every hospital is as accommodating to laboring women, but I was lucky to find one that supported my goal of natural labor with as much movement as possible.
When I finally felt some pressure, I had the midwife examine me. I was at 8 cm and fully effaced. I had a mixture of relief that I was close, but also disappointment that I wasn’t at a 10. However, the midwife told me that my cervix was stretchy enough that if I pushed while she gently moved it, I could have this baby in a few minutes! I was ready to meet my third little boy, so I agreed. I laid back while she broke my water, and then they setup a squat bar at the end of the bed. Using the bar for support, I gave a few slow pushes to help bring down his head. I didn’t want to tear like I did with the last two, so I pushed slowly and without much force. Once his head was down and engaged, I decided to turn around on my knees and push from a kneeling position. I gave a strong push, and then came the burning sensation. Every fiber of my being screamed at me to push as hard as I could and get him out, but my husband and midwife kept reminding me to push slowly and not eject him like a bullet from a gun. I opened my mouth so that I couldn’t hold my breath and bear down with each push, and finally I felt the pop of release as his head came out. It was such a wave of relief as I felt his wiggly body slide out the rest of the way, and I needed to hold him right then!
My husband and a nurse helped me turn around and sit down so I could hold my sweet little Connor. He was absolutely beautiful and worth all the pain and anguish! After the cord stopped pulsing, my husband cut it and my baby was free. The hospital gives what they call a “golden hour” where Mom and baby have an hour to be together, breastfeed and snuggle before they begin their exams, eye goop, weight and length check, etc. It was a beautiful time to just hold the little angel who had been living inside me for so long and bond. Thanks to the reminder from my midwife not to push too hard, I didn’t tear after all! After about 30 minutes of struggling to get my uterus to clamp down and stop bleeding, Connor and I were cleared to move up to the postpartum wing. All my labors have been beautiful in some way, and this was no different. With Connor’s arrival, my pack of three boys is complete!
I hope that any pregnant Moms reading my story will feel empowered and confident. God gave women amazing bodies that have the capabilities to do AMAZING things. We were created to bring life into this world, and whether it’s through a natural home birth, epidural at the hospital, or c-section, we CAN do it! We are strong, beautiful, powerful warriors! Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!
Story submitted by Katie K.