I also want to say that I realize that there are women who aren't given a choice in how they birth and have unplanned c-sections. My heart goes out to these mommies. I can't imagine how hard that must be but I know that they are thankful to have their babies here safe and sound. I want to say how fortunate I feel that I was able to choose how I gave birth and how thankful I am for a wonderful doctor and hospital staff that never tried to force me into things I was not comfortable with.
Ok, due date: February 6th. It came...and went. I was actually surprised that I hadn't gone into labor a little early since I had been having braxton hicks contractions for weeks and weeks! But, I was hopeful that she would arrive soon after. Determined to avoid being induced, I wanted to let her come on her own no matter how long it would take. I had no idea it would take so long. I'm not going to lie, I was feeling sorry for myself. Each day that passed and I woke up still pregnant I got a little more bitter. "Why am I still pregnant? It's not fair." "I'm never going to have this baby!" "Is this some sick joke? As if 40 weeks isn't long enough to be pregnant, I have to be pregnant longer?" I was just not in a good place emotionally during that time. I couldn't stand checking my facebook because (well-meaning) people were asking things like "Are you still pregnant?" "When are you going to have that baby?" "Are they going to induce?" It was a constant reminder that I was still pregnant with a baby that 'should have been here.' On one hand, I wanted people to understand that she didn't have to come by my 'due date.' The world would not stop turning if she didn't. And no, I didn't want to be induced, she would come when she was ready. On the other hand, I felt it was unfair for me to have to wait so long for her to come. I felt like I had waited long enough and didn't understand why she just wasn't coming! This is a problem I have with 'due dates.' They are to give us an idea of when the baby will possibly arrive but it's not written in stone that they baby must come by this date. A normal pregnancy is 37-42 weeks. Ava was born 2 days shy of 42 weeks so within the normal range. Next time I am pregnant, I won't be telling people a specific due date and I won't get so hung up on one specific day. It's setting yourself up for disappointment when it doesn't happen by that date. Those 12 days after my EDD were torture and I don't want to experience that again. One thing I had to remind myself was "no one has ever been pregnant forever. She will come eventually!" And she did.
On Friday, February 17th I woke up (still pregnant) and went to the bathroom. I had bloody show (for those that aren't familiar with this term, it is a pink/blood tinged mucous meaning that labor is imminent!). My heart started racing because I knew that meant she was coming very soon. I spent that day getting things ready and waiting for my labor to start. Unfortunately, my parents (who had arrived 2 weeks earlier) had to head home that morning because they had to get back to work.) I was devastated about this since I wanted to have them there to help us transition to being a family of four. My mom later said that she thought it was God's plan for her not to be present because she did not want to watch me deliver naturally. She didn't want to see me in that kind of pain. So, they left and I was at home with Hayden. I called Jeff to tell him what was going on but that he didn't need to leave work since I wasn't in active labor. I went the entire day with nothing happening so I finally went to bed (late) and figured I would either wake up with contractions or labor would start the next day. Well, I never got to sleep. My labor started at 2am with crampy contractions. They were very different from the tightening contractions I had felt for weeks. I knew this was it but I tried to get some rest so that I could have some energy for labor and delivery. That didn't happen. The contractions were too uncomfortable to sleep through though not painful yet. I finally woke Jeff up around 4ish (I think.) I wanted him to start timing the contractions.
They were about 5-7 mins apart but still slightly irregular. I texted my bestie (and photographer for the birth) that I was in labor with contractions 5-7 mins apart and would keep her posted. I laid in bed on my side next to Jeff and tapped him awake every time a contraction would start (I didn't want to talk because I was concentrating) and he would time it. We did this for a couple hours. I was hoping to labor mostly at home and head to the hospital when I was close to delivery but that plan didn't work out. I was having a little bit of bloody discharge and my contractions were very crampy (I didn't know that this was normal because I didn't really feel labor contractions with Hayden since I had an epidural.) I was nervous about the blood and cramps so I called my doctor around 6 (I wanted to at least wait till then to wake him up on a saturday.) He thought that I should go in just to make sure everything was ok.
I arrived at the hospital just before 7am. I had let Candace know that I was heading there and she met us there around 8am. When I got to the hospital, I was hopeful that I would be dilated to a 4 or 5 since I was already a 2 before I went into labor and I had been laboring with consistent contractions for over 4 hours. Well, to my disappointment, I was only a 2. A TWO! After all that laboring, I hadn't progressed at all! That was very disappointing to say the least. I felt like I was going to be laboring in the hospital forever and that was the last thing I wanted.
The nurse suggested some things to naturally get my contractions stronger and closer together and it worked. Speaking of my nurse, I had the best nurse I could have asked for. I loved her. I truly feel like she was a God-send. I was nervous that I would get a nurse that wasn't patient with me and that I would have to fight about what I did and did not want. She was just the opposite. I told her I was planning to go natural and she never acted annoyed or tried to talk me into meds/epidural, etc... I didn't even have to tell her that I didn't want IV fluids, she just didn't even offer them. They did have to give me an IV for antibiotics (I was group B pos.) but after they were done, she disconnected the IV. She was also very supportive and when she came in the room and I was working through a painful contraction, she would tell me "you can do it, just breathe" instead of offering an epidural or IV meds. The best part was I got to keep her my whole labor because her shift started when I arrived at the hospital and Ava was born just as her shift was ending! I even told Jeff, "I need to have this baby before 3 so I can have her the whole time." haha!
Ok, back to my labor...I had progressed to 4cm a couple hours after I arrived. At that point they put me in my own room (before then I had been in triage and was just walking the halls trying to get my labor more active.)
Shortly after I got in my room I asked for a birthing ball so that I could sit on that instead of lying in the bed (which I hated at that point because the contractions were getting pretty strong and the last thing I wanted was to be lying in a bed.)
The birthing ball worked great for me. It allowed me to move around but I didn't have to stand. I stayed on that for a while until I started getting very uncomfortable and contractions were getting pretty strong. I asked the nurse to check me (she hadn't been checking me every hour, they were just letting me labor and she told me to let her know if/when I wanted to be checked.) I was hoping so much to be 7-8 but I was a 6. I was so disappointed (again) but they assured me I was making good progress.
I labored a bit longer and was getting miserable. I asked her to check again and she said I was 7 and that she could try to push me to an 8 with my next contraction (NOT fun.) But, we did that. I remember going to the bathroom around this time and telling Jeff that I couldn't go on much longer. I thought I had a couple more hours at least and the contractions were so strong that I couldn't imagine at least 2 more hours of the pain. He was reassuring and I tried to put my brave face on.
After that things progressed pretty quickly (thankfully) and my doctor arrived. They started setting up the room and I was thinking "already?" My contractions were so strong at this point. I had handled them (what I thought was) pretty well up until then but it was getting rough. I was gripping the bars on the sides of the bed as waves of pain would wash over me. I was
This is where it gets real, peeps. I'm gonna be 100% honest here and I'm not gonna try to act like it happened all gracefully and calmly cuz it didn't. All of a sudden, during a hard, long push my dr. used his fingers/hand to break my water. WOWZERS! Talk about the most intense, crazy pain I have ever felt!!! It honesly felt like I actually had her right then. I must have had this 'what happened' look because they said "that was your water, your water just broke." NO, you just tore my bag of waters open with your fingers!!! At that point it was like she was immediately crowning and the pain was so intense. I started losing it
But, I told myself that the only way to get her out was to push, hard and keep pushing till she came out. So, with (I don't know how many, it didn't seem like many after she was crowning) pushes, her head and shoulders were finally out and I grabbed her under the arms and pulled her up to my chest and laid her there on top of me.
I was the first one to hold her! What an awesome feeling to pull her out like that. It wasn't really planned, it was sort of last minute that my dr. told me to do it and I'm so glad he did. She was born at 2:54 pm almost exactly 13 hours after I went into labor and 8 hours after we got to the hospital. After she was out it was instant relief. It was over. She was finally here! It was surreal. I was so happy she was here and it was over but it was like a dream. Everything was happening so fast. Then I remember noticing that my throat was sore and I asked if I was yelling a lot and Jeff said no so I think it was the pushing/grunting. I did tear a little so they had to give me a few stitches then I delivered the placenta and that was it. Whew! I remember telling Candace (my bestie/photog who has had two natural births) "I can't believe you did that twice!" I was a little shell-shocked. If you would have asked me then if I would ever deliver naturally again, I would have said "no, never!" But, I'm thinking a lot of women would say that immediately after a natural birth! I had visitors right away and the word I used to describe it was "rough, it was rough." And it was, but it's so true what they say, you forget the pain.
And now when I look back at my natural birth, I don't remember the pain, I remember the good things. I remember Jeff being by my side every step of the way. I remember him being my rock and encouragement (he didn't even stop to eat or drink the whole 13 hours I was in labor!) I wouldn't have 'needed' him as much if I wasn't in pain. I love how this experience brought us closer together as a couple. We worked together and it was hard but we got the best reward at the end. She made it worth it.
And if we are blessed with another child, I hope to deliver that one naturally too. Not because I enjoy pain (or even have a high tolerance for it, because I don't!) but because I cherished the experience as a whole even with the pain, fear and feelings that I couldn't do it.
Just shy of 8lbs ;)
Lastly, I want to give a shout out to my bestie, Candace Wilson, for being there for hours and hours during my labor photographing and documenting it for us. She doesn't normally offer birth photography but she was willing to do it for us. She took all of the images used in this blog post and did an amazing job! I hope she doesn't mind my edits (which only consisted of converting them to b&w.) She didn't eat the whole time (I don't even remember her even taking a drink!) and was so dedicated to her job as my photographer and an encourager. Words can't describe how thankful I am for her and her role in our birth that day.
Thank you for taking the time to read my
All photos taken by Kristen (blog author) unless otherwise stated. Do not copy/save or print without permission. Thank you!