My birth story starts on a Friday morning. I woke up feeling slightly off. I took my temperature – 99.something. Not high enough to be admitted (100.4) but I knew I needed to rest. I called in sick to work and stayed in bed all day.
Saturday morning: prenatal yoga at Yoga Bliss Edmond, my pregnancy sanctuary. My amazing yogi sister, Darci, led a beautiful class and gave us some zentangle yoga birth coloring sheets to take home. That night, my husband and I sat on the love seat and I proceeded to color the entire thing in one sitting. That should have been my first clue something was up!
We went to bed at our usual time, but for some then-unknown reason we both woke up around 2:00 am. I thought it was strange that we both woke up, but figured it was the pizza and movie candy! I went back to sleep but Will stayed in the living room on the couch. At around 5:00 am, I woke up feeling what I thought were contractions. I immediately drew a warm bath but it brought me no comfort. I took a hot shower instead. Then I came into the living room and told Will “I don’t want you to freak out, but I think I’m in labor.” I went back to bed and was able to fall asleep between contractions – about every 15-20 minutes. I texted my sister because I didn’t want to give my parents a false alarm. She said it could be 1-2 days before I actually had the baby!
I will do my best to recall the next 17 hours with accuracy, but I make no promises.
Once I couldn’t sleep through the contractions anymore, I whipped out my bag of tricks. The heating pad helped a bit, the ball was okay, but all I really wanted was for Will to press down on my back when the contractions came and to hold the DoTerra Console essential oil up to my nose. Will started timing the contractions. They were irregular – a sign that you’re not ready to go to the hospital. Then I had a contraction that lasted 6 minutes!!! Will called the nurses station and they said to come on in and get checked. Much to Will’s dismay, my hospital bag was not packed and I insisted on doing it myself! Thirty minutes later, we were in the car. I think I had two contractions on the way to the hospital, but I could still “talk through them.” What a terrible way to measure intensity! I thought they might send me home, but the wonderful nurse at the nurses station said “I can see it in your eyes. You’re staying.”
She put me in a room and said that I could labor for an hour and they would see if I had made progress. At my previous appointment, I had been 1 cm dilated and 0% effaced. At my first check, I was still only 1 cm dilated. I am very thankful for the nurse’s skill and heart because she easily could have sent me home at only 1 cm. She instructed me to walk around for 40 minutes, but I didn’t make it farther than the bathroom in the hospital lobby. I was sure I was going to barf, but I just sweated and cried. We walked back to the room to get checked again.
Here is where my memory goes really fuzzy! I can say with 100% certainty, getting “checked” is the absolute worst part of early labor. Ladies, can I get an amen?!
I had made some sort of progress because she kept me. There was a yoga ball, many trips to the bathroom sink (the cold felt so good on my forehead), and pizza vomit. Yes, I threw up pizza all over myself. Not my shining moment. I asked the nurse if that normally happens and she said yes, but they usually have a little more warning! I was for sure in labor now, but my brain hadn’t really caught up. I was still thinking it could be days before the baby came.
Will was absolutely amazing. I told him I didn’t think I could do it and he told me “you already are. you’re doing it.” There was a moment where I turned to him and told him “if this gets much worse, I want the epidural” and he fully supported me. But it never got much worse, honestly. The pain level of the contractions stayed about the same, they just got closer together. One specific detail I remember is at 5:19 I was sitting up in the hospital bed and I remembered I was supposed to have dinner with my cousins at 5. I text them “rain check on dinner. I’m in labor.” At some point I made the decision to text my parents and let them know they should head our way.
By 7 or 8 pm, my water still hadn’t broken (turns out this is a good thing), but I was feeling the urge to push. The nurse said she was going to go ahead and call my doctor. When my doctor got there, she asked if I wanted her to break my water – this meant the contractions would become “more intense” but that the baby would be here soon! Dr. Hansen asked me if I had thought about delivery positions, which I hadn’t. She said she’s been doing this a long time and the good old-fashioned way (yes, feet in stirrups) works the best. So I flipped over and started pushing. Will stood right by my head and my nurse stood on the other side. I had NOT prepared for or practiced pushing – it is not how I thought it would be! I assumed you used the exhale to push, but you actually hold your breathe and push into it. Once I got the hang of it, I could make stronger pushes but I was getting very tired. In between contractions I was telling Phillip we were ready to meet him. During contractions, I was screaming just like in the movies “get this baby out of me!”
At one point, the doctor said she could do an episiotomy which would make the baby come, but I said “please don’t cut me.” (I hadn’t prepared for this decision either, that was a gut reaction.) And she said, well then you’re going to have to keep pushing. I looked at Will. I just needed a quick time out. A little rest. Maybe an iced Americano. But those aren’t options. The only thing you can do is go with it. Will saw that I was getting so tired and he bravely looked down toward the doctor. Then, he looked DEEP into my eyes and he said “he’s right there” and that gave me the energy I needed. Two more pushes and my slimy son was born at 10:19 PM. What a WEIRD feeling. They lay the baby so far up in your grill that you can’t even really look at him. It was so strange. I hadn’t known what to expect, but it is absolutely true that the SECOND he’s born – the pain stops, and you pretty much forget how bad you were just hurting.
I achieved a natural birth in a hospital with my husband’s support. If you’re hoping for or considering a natural childbirth, I want you to know that you absolutely can do it. The benefits far outweigh the pain. Yoga, walking, and chiropractic care were huge factors in my pregnancy, but the most powerful thing I did to prepare was that I journalled my birth story. I physically wrote out by the moment what was going to happen. I affirmed the opposite of my fears.
How did your labor and delivery surprise you? What do you remember most about the first moment meeting your bundle of joy? Share your birth story with me!