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New Hospital VBAC Story

New Hospital VBAC Story

Hospital VBAC, from Kellie

It was a pretty intense and fast ride for my daughter’s arrival! At least, it felt that way to me at the time. I woke up around 8am to a tiny bit of blood on a Tuesday morning, and contractions started right away, but were very irregular at 5-15 minutes apart. I called my mom to come over so I could shower and get ready for the hospital while she kept my son, who had just turned two the day before, occupied. I was too nervous to take him in the shower with me, as the contractions were already feeling a bit intense. After several hours, contractions were still very irregular, but getting more difficult to walk/talk through. I sent my mom home, ate a little lunch, and got my son down for a nap around 1:00pm. I could barely get him into his crib as I had a pretty intense contraction right as I was laying him down! I was waiting for my husband to leave work at 1:30pm, but the contractions were getting quite intense by then, and had started getting closer to 10 minutes apart (a bit more regular). I called and made an appointment to come in to the hospital at 4:00pm to be checked out. However, by 2:00pm the contractions started coming about every 5-7 minutes, and they were getting much more intense very quickly. My husband got home at 2:00pm and we loaded the car and headed out. I could no longer talk through most of the contractions, so we decided to take me to the hospital before taking my son to his grandparents’ house (the original plan was to drop him off on the way!).

My husband actually had to convince me that he and my son were coming in with me. I was already a bit out of it, so I told him to just drop me off at the door and come back after he dropped our son off! Hah! I made it all the way to the elevator before another contraction hit, and I distinctly remember being very aware and concerned for another woman in the elevator with us… I didn’t want to scare her, I guess! The three of us went right into a room in the women’s clinic area for me to be monitored. I tried so hard not to vocalize too much through the contractions, but I definitely had to go into my own little world through each one. If I had known better, I would have insisted on heading straight to L&D. I was OBVIOUSLY in labor! My son kept asking what was going on (not worried, but curious). He kept saying, “Mommy doing? Mommy sleeping?” By the time I was checked, which I think was about 3:45pm (it felt like FOREVER), I was already at 7cm and 90% effaced, with a bulging bag of waters!

I had also decided that things were happening way too quickly for me and it was freaking me out, so I was considering an epidural. I had a lot of fear from my previous birth, which ended in a c-section due to “failure to progress” (I was stuck in transition for about 3 hours at 8cm), after 13 hours of labor, the last few hours of which I really felt like I was losing my mind (entirely unmedicated). This time, we barely made it to L&D before my contractions were too much and I was already hollering through them. My labor pattern is a bit different than the “norm,” I guess, in that my contractions never really got closer than 5-7 minutes apart, but they double. I get one huge one immediately followed by a smaller one (this was the same as with my son, too, I think). I was finding it nearly impossible to relax, even between contractions, and we were still waiting for my husbands’ parents to come pick up my son (so he was still in the room with us). I really wanted a natural birth, but mostly, I think I wanted this birth to be as different from my first experience as possible. I felt like the epidural would relax me enough that I could get rid of the anxiety and focus on enjoying this birth. While I was waiting for the anesthesiologist, my husbands’ parents arrived to get my son, and I was able to give him a hug and kiss goodbye (even with a smile!) in between contractions, which I was soooo grateful for!

When I got checked before getting the epidural, I was already at 9cm! I cried tears of joy because I knew that meant I had progressed further than my labor with my son, which was excellent news! I felt less qualms about getting the epidural then, since things were moving along so quickly (I had gone from 7cm-9cm in less than an hour), so I knew the epidural wouldn’t be in all that long. The epidural went in easily, and my pain was almost entirely gone soon after, although I could still feel discomfort with every contraction (which was exactly how I wanted it). It felt soooo good to relax!

hospital vbac labour

Since my contractions were still 5-7 minutes apart, my midwife decided to break my bag of waters to try to get them closer together. It worked, if only for a short while! When I was checked again within the hour, my midwife said, “Oh, I see baby!” I was already complete! Yay! We let my daughter “labor down” for about half an hour, and by 6:00pm or so I started pushing.

I pushed for close to an hour, and my sweet baby L was born at 6:58pm. I would have probably only pushed for half an hour, but there was a bit of a tight band of cervix causing her to not come out even though she was crowning like she should be flying out of there. I was a bit bummed that I had to get a small cut, but it did most likely prevent me from tearing much worse. My midwife felt terrible about having to cut an episiotomy, too, but in the end it wasn’t a big deal. I still tore a bit when she came out, mostly because she also had her little hands near her face! It was initially thought that I had a bad 3rd degree tear, but upon further inspection, it turns out it was more like a “generous” 2nd degree tear. So at least it looked worse than it was! And I’ll take that any day over abdominal surgery! I’m not exactly sure when “active” labor started, but if I had to put a time on it, I would say probably 1:00, when the contractions started to get more regular and intense. So that would mean only about 6 hours of labor! If you want to count all of my labor, it would still be less than 11 hours. Awesome!

mother and baby vbac

newborn vbac

It was such an amazingly different experience than my labor and delivery with my son. It helped immensely that I started labor in the morning after a restful sleep, rather than in the middle of the night. And it went so quickly that I really still felt pretty good afterward! Pushing was difficult, but it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. And my baby was immediately placed on my belly (she had a pretty short cord) so I could see her and touch her and talk to her. It was amazing. I held her the whole time I was being stitched up, and for awhile afterward. I was a total baby hog, and I loved it! I did not take a moment of being able to be the first one to love on my baby for granted. We were all a little surprised when we finally weighed her and she came in at 8 lbs 1 oz! I vaginally birthed a baby 5 ounces bigger than my c-section baby! Woohoo! Her apgar scores were 8 & 9, and she was healthy as can be. It took her a little while to get interested in nursing (she was more interested in sleeping), but within 36 hours she was latching on like a pro!

breastfeeding after vbac

It felt great to be able to walk around easily on my own within a couple hours of delivery. I was a little sore, but nothing like after my c-section. The empowerment I felt as a mother and woman after my successful VBAC cannot even be explained in words. Now I am a little over halfway through my pregnancy with #3, and I am so hopeful and excited about this birth! I know I can do a natural birth this time (provided no issues arise, of course), and the fear is gone!

Natural Hospital Birth {Born at 35w5d}

Natural Hospital Birth {Born at 35w5d}

On December 13th I was 35 weeks and 4 days pregnant. Despite being uncomfortably large and tired, I was restless. I decided to get that pile of baby clothes and linens washed, stock up on groceries, and clean the house. Feeling rather accomplished at 6:00pm I settled into my usual evening routine, an hour of yoga and meditation, cooked and ate dinner and by 9:30pm I was ready to relax on the lounge and read for a bit before bed. Just as I settled down I felt a familiar kick in the lower right rib, then an unfamiliar pop and a gush. For the first time in my life I hoped that I had just peed myself. I grabbed my cell phone and waddled to the bathroom. I called my other half, Alex, who was working the night shift 2 and half hours away. I left a message with his supervisor to have him call me as soon as possible and then hung up and called my midwife, Jen. We had planned a home water birth but now everything had changed.

It’s not like me to panic but for a few moments that’s exactly what I did. Jen helped me to calm down and formulate a plan. Suddenly it seemed possible to me that I was further along than we had thought, and I hoped beyond hope that I would not have to submit to a hospital birth but that was not a logical possibility. I was in preterm labor and there was a risk of giving birth to a baby who needed life support. Jen advised me to go to the hospital and get checked out, if they found me to be further along, great, I would check out and head home where she would meet me with the birthing pool, but I knew that was only a pipe dream now. As Alex returned my call, Jen hung up and called her apprentice, Lisa, a doula who is training to become a midwife. I had only just met her the week before but immediately knew that she would be an important figure during my delivery. She has a strong but calm and nurturing presence, exactly what I needed at that moment. As I explained to Alex that it was happening and he needed to come home right now, Lisa gathered her supplies and headed to the car. She would meet me at my home and take me to the hospital. It took her just under an hour to get from her house to mine and while I waited for her I talked to Alex on the phone. We comforted and encouraged each other, trying to quiet all the fears of our little one coming too soon.

By the time Lisa arrived the contractions had begun. They were 5 – 7 minutes apart and lasted 20 – 40 seconds. I hugged her and thanked her for coming. Since I thought that I had a few weeks to go I had not packed a hospital bag yet, she helped me to focus on gathering a few things, a water bottle, slippers, a change of clothes, and toiletries. It is a very short drive to the hospital from my house, about 8 city blocks from Williamsport Regional Hospital, and we were there by 11:30pm. I was so relieved that although I had not expected to go to the hospital, I had done my homework. I had called only 2 days earlier and spoken to the L & D nursing supervisor. For at least half an hour I grilled her with questions on policies and procedures, statistics and her own personal experiences in the hospital. I had some idea of what to expect and what I wanted to happen, and I was able to clearly communicate with the nursing staff before my contractions completely took over. I wanted this birth to be natural. As far as I was concerned, Pitocin and epidurals were not an option. They didn’t push the issue. I was hooked up to the monitors and given an IV for fluids. It was 1:00am when the resident on duty came in to check me she found me to be 1cm dilated, 50% effaced. Just as she was demonstrating how much further I had to go, Alex walked in. I felt such a relief, it was like I could finally let the process begin. We were then left alone to labor. Only Lisa and occasionally a nurse were there with us. We kissed and talked about the changes that were about to take place in our life. We weren’t prepared but we were ready.

I took my contractions on my knees and elbows. The hospital had tubs but since my water had broken it was against their policy to allow me to use them, to minimize exposure to bacteria. There would be no water labor or birth. I was offered a balance ball to use and encouraged to try different positions, I tried it but with every contraction I gave into the urge to be down on all fours. It went on like this for a couple of hours. As the contractions became stronger I went into a trance like state, barely speaking to anyone, focused completely inward. Breathing and ohming through each contraction as it rolled over me. The only time I wanted to be off my knees was when I had to pee, which was frequent. Around 3:00am the resident checked me again, 4cm 90% effaced. I was back on my knees and into my trance immediately. The pain was incredible but I just continued to remind myself that you can’t quit contractions, you can’t give up until it’s over. I decided that if I had to have contractions that I was going to have as few as possible and I would make each one count. It wasn’t easy and as they became more powerful I had to remind myself constantly not to fight it, but to work with it. The gentle massaging from Alex and Lisa and their encouragement to take deep slow breaths helped me to remain focused, present, and not allow the pain to overpower my will.

At 6:00am I was 6cm and 90%, but still at station 2. The doctor told me to relax, it would be a while, but I was desperate to finish this process and accepted those last 4cm as a challenge to overcome. I took each contraction with a renewed motivation. The intensity felt overwhelming and at one point, which I know now was the moment of transition, I considered giving up and asking for an epidural. I asked Alex to say that it was ok if I couldn’t do it, he said “But you are doing it. You’re doing great.”, that wasn’t what I wanted to hear, I wanted permission to quit. This time I didn’t ask for him to tell me it was ok, I told him to tell me it was ok for me to give up. He said “It’s ok.”, that was all I needed, almost immediately I forgot the idea of quitting and went back to working through each contraction with all the strength and fervor I had. I was helping to move my baby downward with each wave, arching my back, flexing my hips, opening my pelvis. All the things I had been doing to prepare for this moment for weeks during my yoga practice. I wanted this to be over and I was doing everything in my power to bring it to an end.

What seemed like several minutes, but was actually several hours, passed and I asked to be checked again. This time I was ready. It was 9:00am. I had turned over onto my back to be checked, but knowing that I preferred to be on my knees, Alex asked if I could turn over again to push. The answer was yes but I didn’t care. I didn’t want to waste time moving I wanted to push right then and there. Suddenly the room was full of people I hadn’t seen all night long. I growled “Get these people out of here!” but the midwife told me that they needed to be there, some of them were doctors for me and some were there for the baby, in case he needed some help. I didn’t care anymore, it was time. She told me to push. I pushed a few times through a contraction and when it ended I reached down expecting to feel the baby’s head, but there was nothing. Another contraction and I pushed again, then I reached again and again there was nothing. At 9:17am the next contraction started at that was all I needed. I felt the “ring of fire” and I pushed with everything I had, I felt his head pop out and then with a final push it was over and he was placed in my arms. I had done it. I was holding my baby. The little man who had been kicking me in the ribs for months was now lying on my chest.

Natural premmie hospital birth

The umbilical cord was cut, and I was disappointed that they hadn’t waited till it stopped pulsing. This fact still bothers me but I hadn’t made my wishes to have it left intact clear. Neither Alex or I had thought to say anything until it was too late. After the placenta was delivered I was checked for tearing, there was none. Not only had I managed to have a natural delivery in a hospital, I had done it all in less than 12 hours and without tearing. I felt like a rock star. I still do.

My baby boy weighed 6lbs 0oz and was 19 inches long. We named him Baron Alexander. He was perfect and didn’t need any emergency medical attention. We were allowed to bond as a family for a little while before moving to a recovery room where we spent the next 2 days.

Premmie hospital birth bonding
Later we found out that Baron had a slight heart murmur, which corrected itself within 24 hours, I’m told this is common for late stage premmies. He also had jaundice and spent 24 hours under phototherapy lights. That was hard emotionally as I only got to hold him during feedings every few hours. But it’s what he needed to be strong and he has a clean bill of health now.

Recovery was almost too easy, my tail bone was sore and my knees were a little swollen but I felt strong and didn’t suffer. In the weeks leading up to the delivery I felt like I was preparing for a marathon, a very sacred and spiritual marathon. I used yoga and meditation to strengthen my body and mind for this intense journey and all the hard work paid off, allowing me to deliver my baby without intervention, quickly and efficiently.

Premature birth

A Fast Hospital Birth with an ObGyn and Doula

A Fast Hospital Birth with an ObGyn and Doula

In April 2012, we had an unmedicated hospital birth with zero interventions, save for a single dose of antibiotic that I wish I had refused.  I spent the day shopping with hubby, got a manicure and pedicure, a massage, went out to dinner and visited my best friend who had just delivered her son. I did all this without a single sign of labor.

Then, surprise!  My water broke 30 minutes after returning home, I labored there for a bit then headed to the hospital where I labored in the shower.  I dilated from 4cm to 10cm within an hour. I pushed squatting, on hands & knees and eventually felt most comfortable propped a bit on my side.  I was loud! I may have asked for an epidural more than once, I may have scared the on-call OB a little, I definitely scared the other patients down the hall, but RAWR! This first-time momma did what she set out to do!  At 39w3d, 7lbs 11oz, 20 3/4inches, compound presentation with a sweet little fist clenched up by her face, my daughter was born.

My husband, nurse & doula were amazing. We will have a homebirth next time.

Things happened so fast (less than 5 hours total) that we were lucky our doula, who is now a certified nurse midwife, remembered to capture these shots.  Pushing, seeing her for the first time, & sheer happiness is how I describe these moments.

Shannon's fast hospital birth

Shannon's fast, natural hospital birth

Shannon's fast, natural hospital birth

A Natural Hospital Birth after a Stressful Pregnancy

A Natural Hospital Birth after a Stressful Pregnancy

My first two pregnancies and births were pretty heavy with medical intervention. Both were inductions, with pitocin. With my first, I was clueless. With my second, I was a bit more informed, but not very well supported. With both, I ended up with epidurals. I would not say they were bad births, or traumatic, or anything of the sort, but I knew I wanted something different when I finally had another child.

When I found out I was pregnant with my third child, I was thrilled. This time around, I knew more. I was prepared for more. I had been reading Ina May Gaskin’s books, researching online, joining natural birthing groups and following birth blogs. I really wanted a home birth, possibly a water birth. I wanted a beautiful, gentle entrance into this world for my last baby. We began by seeing the same team of midwives that I saw when I was expecting my last child, and we prayed fervently for a little girl to bless our boy-filled home.

At 5 weeks along, I started gushing blood. I was absolutely terrified. We rushed to the hospital, where after lots of waiting and testing, my husband and I were informed that I had experienced a partial placental abruption. We were told that we would likely lose the baby that we were so excited for.

We went home heartbroken and expecting the worst. But, day by day, our baby hung on and stuck with us. We went in for repeated ultrasounds and blood tests to confirm that the pregnancy was viable and baby was still here with us. Every time we heard the heartbeat, or saw movement on a screen, or got blood work back with huge hormone counts, our hearts soared and we cried with relief.

Then at 15 weeks, I started bleeding again, heavier this time. Same routine at the hospital, same diagnosis. Same empathetic words about the possibility of losing our little baby. Suggestions of bed rest and lots of fluids, avoiding anything that could induce contractions, etc…

But still, our baby stayed with us. My husband and I would speak to my growing belly, telling the baby to just hang in there, that life out here is worth it, that we had so much love out here, just waiting…We learned that my due date was on St. Patrick’s day, and since we are both Irish, we took it as a sign of luck. I began wearing a four-leaf clover pendant for more luck, and to remind me of our sweet baby.

My belly grew, and grew, and grew. The pregnancy was really rough on me physically. I was frequently nauseous, in pain almost constantly, and exhausted all the time. Whenever baby moved, it felt like my stomach would literally tear open. I had a muscle separation in my abdomen that was just big enough for tiny feet and hands to slide into, and the pain behind my belly button felt like a dagger….but every time I complained, I tried to remind myself how lucky I was to have that little baby in there, stretching my body to it’s limits and thriving in my womb.

The possibility of a home birth was no longer an option, with the issues we were facing. But our determination to have a natural birth grew. I learned that the pitocin I had been given during my last labor had caused my uterus to hyper-contract, and that was why the pain was so intense and constant, and happened so quickly. I learned that pitocin had the potential to cause my placenta to tear all the way off the uterine wall during labor if this happens. I also learned that the epidural could possibly slow labor down enough that some doctors consider the use of pitocin necessary.

NO WAY was I going to allow pitocin to enter my body.  My husband and I wrote up a birth plan, very explicit about NO unnecessary interventions, only natural pain relief, and lots of support from him. I had total faith in his ability to handle supporting me. We also hired a doula, for extra support and advocacy during labor.

My due date crept closer and closer. The midwives and perinatal specialists were surprised that I even went close to full term. We had been prepared for a possible premature baby, based on the complications we had. They were also concerned about possible intrauterine growth restriction because of the damaged placenta, although she felt plenty big to me!  I bought a couple preemie outfits, just in case.

The Saturday before my due date, I spent the entire day with horrid back pain. I chalked it up to a game of bowling the night before, but by 9 pm that night, I knew I was wrong. I was definitely in labor. I thought. Maybe… but I had a hard time believing it could be real. But I was definitely uncomfortable, so since we intended to spend as much of my labor as possible at home, we bunkered down, broke out the Jack Johnson, dimmed the lights, and tried to relax. My oldest son timed my contractions for me and we called my mom to let her know what was going on. The contractions began getting really intense around 11 pm, so I decided to take a bath. Unfortunately, that was about the time the water heater decided to call it quits on us. That being my main source of pain relief, I was a bit unsure about what to do with myself.

My contractions began getting more intense and closer. I decided it was time to go to the hospital, since we were 45 minutes away, and I tend to have precipitous labor. I called my doula to meet us there, and asked my mom to go ahead and head over to watch the boys.

We arrived just at midnight. After spending hours waiting in my room, being monitored and questioned by the nurse, the midwife finally came in and checked me and stated that I was only about 3cm dilated. I explained that I usually have my babies pretty fast, and that I dilate pretty much all at once. She treated me like I was just an ignorant, impatient pregnant woman and didn’t know what I was talking about. She suggested we spend a little time trying to get labor progressing , since we live so far away from the hospital, and stated that  if I didn’t have baby that night, that I could schedule an induction for the following Monday. I was horrified that she would even suggest that, since I was barely even 39 weeks, and it was explicitly clear in my birth plan that I wanted no inductions of any sort!

As it just so happened, this midwife had attended a friend’s birth just the month before. My friend had many issues with the midwife, but particularly when she decided to yank on the umbilical cord to try and rush the delivery of the placenta. My friend almost died from complications caused by this one simple, but unnecessary act, an act that my friend SPECIFICALLY REQUESTED not be performed.

Since I knew she had a history of not respecting women’s wishes regarding interventions, I realized right away that she was not going to be on my side during my labor and birth. I was immediately stressed out and anxious, and my contractions mellowed out and spaced back apart on the spot. I was very disappointed. We decided to go walking to relax and try to get things going again, but not much was happening. I felt as if my body had just gone into hibernation or something.

Before she went home for the day, the midwife checked me one more time. It was about 7 a.m. I had barely ‘progressed’ at all (according to her). She was ready to discharge me, so we packed up and headed home. On our way down to the ground floor, I had a contraction that had me gripping the rails in the elevator car. We exited and rounded the corner towards the emergency room entrance, where we had parked. My husband ran ahead to bring the car around while my doula waited with me. As soon as he walked out the doors, a contraction hit me that dropped me to my knees. I grasped for something to hold, kind of flailing around for a minute. I don’t know how my husband knew, but all of a sudden, there he was, standing in front of me. He hadn’t even made it to the car when he felt the urge to come back in. I said “We are not leaving yet”.

We turned around and made our way back up to the maternity ward. I informed the nurses that, no, I would not be leaving after all, that I think maybe I ought to stay for a bit. We were put back in the same room as before, and I was really beginning to get uncomfortable again.

There was a new midwife on call, and she agreed. She came in to see me, and I was so immediately relieved that it was a midwife that I had always really liked.

 Since I was GBS positive, I needed antibiotics before labor ( I had agreed to this intervention only). Two nurses got to work on my arm, but they seemed to be taking FOREVER.  Something was wrong with IV equipment or something, I didn’t really pay attention, I was focusing too much on just trying to be patient, and trying to work through contractions while remaining still and in the bed. Finally I had had enough and said I was getting in the tub.  They detached the IV and left the hep lock in so I could move about freely, and since the drip wasn’t working correctly anyways. In hind sight, I really should have mentioned that I knew this baby was going to be here before the antibiotics had had their full run, anyhow, but I was only focused on getting into that tub…

As soon as I slid into the water, I knew we were in it for good. Within moments, I was on my hands and knees, I was screaming and crying, begging for relief. I was in transition. But how, when I was barely even dilated just a few moments before? I started to feel the urge to push, and felt my bag of water pop under the waves I was making with my constant rocking and swaying.  The nurses and the new midwife on call were trying to get me to go back to my room, where they were preparing a birthing pool for me. (The tub room was too small for birth, it was supposed to be just for labor). I looked up to see the midwife and felt such gratitude that it was one of the midwives that I actually really clicked with. So I decided to be cooperative and listen to her and get out of the tub to make my way back to my room.

Climbing out of that tub was (almost) the hardest thing I have ever done. Leaving the warm, comfortable water was NOT what I wanted. I finally managed to get out, and, wrapped in a small towel, pretty much naked, dripping wet, and with my baby crowning, I waddled as fast as I could down the hall. I barely made it to the bed before I was pushing again, I had no control over it, my body had taken over and was doing its job to bring my baby out. The midwife barely had time to put on gloves, and the bed was never even broken down to assist with birthing. The birthing pool was only halfway full, and there was a gaggle of awe-struck nurses standing there with their jaws dropped, unsure of whether they should keep setting up the pool, or disassemble, or what.

I writhed in pain on the bed, I begged and pleaded for it to stop. It was all happening so fast for me; I couldn’t get a grip on it. Somebody reclined the bed, and I remember screaming, “NO! Why are you doing that?!?” But it was too late to do anything about it at that point. I clung to my husband’s arm like a terrified two-year-old. He held me and said all the right things, encouraged me and told me how strong I was.  Moments later, as I screamed the most primal sounds from my body, I pushed my baby into the world.  My beautiful, amazing, perfect daughter, Violet Fiona Rose, was born at 8:16 a.m, with almost no hair ( lol), weighing 8lbs, 7oz, just like her eldest brother.  ( I realized, afterwards, that my labor picked back up again at almost the exact moment that the previous  ( and not-so-cared-for) midwife had gone off duty, and the new midwife arrived. It was like my body knew when the other one had left, and started back up again when the ‘safe’ one was there to assist).

Violet developed an infection, presumably from the GBS, since we were not able to receive the full dose of antibiotics during labor. She was administered antibiotics through and IV and by injection for the next several days. I was discharged, but allowed to stay in a room as a ‘boarding mom’, which I am so very grateful for. I could not imagine having to leave her; after all we had been through waiting for her arrival. We got to come home, together, about a week later.

My daughter is now a gorgeous, healthy 6 month old. We revel in her perfection every day, and our gratitude for the gift we have been given just grows and grows as she does.

A Fast Natural Hospital Birth

A Fast Natural Hospital Birth

Alyssa writes this story about her two midwife-assisted hospital births, and just how difficult it was to tear herself away from mopping the floors in the throes of labor:

I’ve been blessed to have two wonderful birth experiences, each of them very different. My son’s birth was far from a bad experience. At the time I thought it was just about perfect. My water spontaneously broke and labor did not progress. Taking the advice of my midwife I was given Pitocin and 12 hours later opted for an epidural. After 17 hours of labor (only 15-20 minutes of pushing) my son arrived. Following this experience I told others emphatically, “Take the epidural!”.

Two years later we conceived our second child. Within those two years I had decided that I wanted this child’s birth to be different. I did not want to labor in the hospital. I really did not want to be given Pitocin again, I didn’t want an IV, I wanted my baby put on my bare chest. I wanted to find the strength to go through this laboring experience naturally, to fully connect to my body and the process. I wanted to be in the comfort of my own home; my husband, however, was not to be convinced.

We decided on another midwife-coached birth in hospital and I had a wonderful pregnancy. I exercised four times a week, ate well, and did all I could to keep my body healthy and happy. We found out we were going to have a daughter, and her guess date was June 21st 2012, a mere two days after our son’s third birthday. The 21st came and went. The morning of the 22nd I begged my midwife to strip my membranes hoping it would help start my labor. At the office I was already 5cm dilated, 75% effaced, and the baby was at zero station. I should have known right then that this wasn’t going to be a long labor.

I had mild contractions following the procedure but nothing of consequence. At 5pm that night I started to feel like the contractions were becoming more regular. I really didn’t believe I was in labor so I continued about my normal business and just gave my husband a heads up that labor might have started. I had been having a ton of Braxton Hicks contractions over the past three weeks: they would be steady at eight minutes apart for an hour before disappearing. But on the night of the 22nd, my contractions went from eight minutes apart to five over the course of an hour. They were becoming stronger, and while definitely not painful, just more present.

By 6:30pm we called the midwife. She suggested that I probably wasn’t in labor and that it was a result of having my membranes stripped. I laid down for half an hour and drank some water. Instead of slowing down, my contractions moved to 3-4 minutes apart. We called my in-laws to pick up our son and I began to do my routine of cleaning the house before I leave (something that drives my husband nuts!). I was washing up dishes and getting ready to mop my floors when my husband forced me to leave the house. By now the contractions were becoming stronger and more uncomfortable. All I could do was breathe through them.

I may have forgotten to mention – I live an hour away from the hospital. Yes, an hour! We got in the car for the long trip. Not even halfway through, my contractions had sped up to two minutes apart and were continuing to get more uncomfortable. It wasn’t as bad as I had anticipated, and we arrived at the hospital at 8:45pm.

The midwife came in to check on me and see if I was actually in labor. I was 6cm dilated and completely effaced. She broke my water. After this things went from 0-60. I immediately progressed to 7cm. I looked at my sisters and husband and asked why on earth I wanted to do this naturally. They had no reply and I have to admit I asked for, gasp an epidural. It wasn’t that the pain was too much to bare – it was that I had truly forgotten why I wanted to do this without medication. Thankfully, my body and heart remembered why and had other plans.

During this part of my labor I was sitting vertically in bed rocking and moaning with each contraction. In hindsight I realize that 10 minutes after my water was broken I had to push. I was just unable to believe that what I was feeling was the need to push; I had just arrived at the hospital! The nurse was unable to place an IV. It was then I realized I was going to be doing this naturally. I can vividly remember my internal dialogue, I can’t do this! Alyssa….you are an idiot. You can do this and you do not have a choice.

I looked up at my husband, who was sitting at the foot of the bed (when I am in pain I want to be left alone, not spoken to and definitely not touched) and said, “ I HAVE to push.” This feeling was beyond just pressure and far beyond a slight need to bare down. There was an incredible urgency behind it. I could hear in the nurse’s voice that she didn’t believe me. She nonchalantly suggested we wait for the midwife to come back in to check on me. At that moment the midwife walked through the door. I can still remember the shocked look on her face as she lifted up my hospital gown. As my husband told me later, all you could see was the baby’s head.

Total chaos ensued. Nothing was done. Paper work hadn’t been done, the warmer wasn’t in the room, NOTHING! The midwife rushed to get her gloves on. My husband moved to the side to help me hold my legs up (no stirrups, thank God!). I do not even remember being told to push – all I know is I did and oh my there was the ring of fire… Something more intense then I could ever imagine. I definitely was screaming through the two pushes I gave. It wasn’t an out-of-control scream of pain but rather the kind of scream a weight-lifter might give when pushing himself/herself to the limit (I had to check with my sisters. They say this just about describes it).

Two pushes and oh what a relief! Her head was out! Quickly the rest of her came and she was screaming at the top of her lungs which, I should note, are quite loud. They placed her right on my bare chest and she immediately began to suck furiously at her hands. I was in such shock. My beautiful daughter Brynn Elise had arrived. I could not process what had just happened. I looked at her in amazement. She was here. I did it. It was 9:48pm. After only five hours of labor, one hour and three minutes after we had arrived at the hospital, and only 20-30 minutes after my water was broken, my daughter was born. Incredible.

I did end up having a tear on my inner labia and the midwife warned me that they probably weren’t going to be able to numb me effectively there. I felt every gosh darn stitch (this was definitely the worst part of my experience). I just kept squeezing my husband’s hand and staring at my daughter. I was able to keep her on me during the repair, which was so unlike my first birth, when my son was whisked away shortly after he was born. Brynn Elise stayed on my chest until the repair was done and then I nursed her. She didn’t have her measurements taken until about an hour after she was born. It was so amazing to just be able to hold my baby for as long as I wanted without pressure to hurry up and have her measured and such. She weighed in at a small 6lbs 13oz and 20.5 inches long.

It took me a good week to wrap my head around Brynn’s delivery. It all happened so incredibly fast that I was truly unable to grasp all that had occurred. As I reflect on this birth experience I find such strength and power within myself. I proved, to myself, that I could indeed have a natural birth. I am strong enough. For me this was an incredible triumph and moment of empowerment that I will carry with me for all of my life. I love hearing the pride in my husband’s voice as he tells people, “She did it naturally, without even a Tylenol!” Although the births of my two children were so different, I wouldn’t wish either of them to be any different than what they were. I know that both of my children’s births were births without fear.

Fast, Natural Hospital Birth with Baby Born in the Caul

Fast, Natural Hospital Birth with Baby Born in the Caul

On Thursday June 9th I gave birth to a baby girl who weighed 8lb 1oz and 21 inches long. The day started at 5am when my contractions were 15minutes apart. At 5:45am they were closer to 5-6 minutes apart and still bearable, but I had some trouble walking. I could still talk through them though.

After an hour I called my doctor and she said to wait a bit more, and come in at 8am to the office to be checked. I waited until 8am but the contractions didn’t give in or let up. They still were 5minutes apart. I knew that some people have contractions that close together for few days on and off but I called the office at 8am. They told me no doctors were in and to go to emergency room.

I took my 5 year old to the neighbor’s house and went to the hospital with hubby and got there at 8:30am through the emergency entrance. When I got in I handed out my birth plan, even if I wasn’t checking in yet. After being checked I was told I am only 2.5cm along, and I thought “They’ll kick me out.” But I hoped they wouldn’t as I was in too much pain to leave. I was told by the doctor to walk around and come back. So I walked, and walked and walked. It must have been about 11am when they checked me again and I was 5.5cm and I was admitted.

Now contractions were stronger but I sang through them with my iPod. Around noon they were 2 minutes apart and bloody mucus was coming. They got me the birth ball and a towel. At 12:30 it got horrible, so the nurse had me lean over the bed and I stood holding on to hubby’s hands squeezing during each contraction as the nurse applied pressure to my back relieving pain, helping me lower baby by teaching me to breath down the “canal”. At 1pm I got into the shower and sat for about 20 minutes with the water running down my back.

Around 1:20pm the doctor checked me and said I was 100% effaced and 9.5 cm dilated. After a few pushes at 1:40 pm my baby was born. My water never broke and she came out in the caul. They handed her to me and waited till cord was done pulsating to cut the cord. I did tear a little so I got some stitches. But it all was medicine free and fast.

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