"Are you having this one natural too?"
This was perhaps my most asked about question during this pregnancy. Everyone wanted to know if I'd go for a natural, drug free labor again. You'd think that I'd answer, "Well of course." I mean, I already knew I could handle the pain and since second labors are usually shorter it just made sense. However I never answered the question that way; I always said, "I hope to."
We never know how a labor will go. Emergencies happen, interventions take place and birth plans can quickly become faded hopes and dreams. I was never going to sit there and pretend like I knew I'd have this baby the same, beautiful way that I had my first. I just sat back and prayed that I would and hoped for it. I believed in my ability to do it and I believed in my baby and my body working together.
From day one, we were just certain that this baby would be a "May" baby despite a June 7 due date. No way was I going to have a June baby. At 29 weeks we experienced false labor and found out I was dilated one cm; it was just a sure thing that this would be an early baby! Mother's Day came and I woke up at 36 weeks pregnant with consistent contractions that lasted ALL day. And then it happened again at 38 weeks pregnant and once more one night at nearly 39 weeks. I began to suspect what many birthing peers thought, maybe my baby wasn't in the exact position and this was keeping my labor from progressing, something that is key later on in this story.
Finally, at 39 weeks and 1 day (and in June at that) I went to bed with what was yet again a bad back ache and the feeling like labor was coming. But let's face it, I had been feeling like that every day so I didn't get my hopes up. I woke up several times that night to potty and noticed I was contracting, but I still didn't get my hopes up. The next morning while cuddling with my two year old and watching cartoons, I noticed I was consistently contracting at 10-11 minutes apart.
So maybe, just maybe this was it.
I went run a few errands to have everything done before this baby arrived. I ended our errands visiting my mom where we decided to go walking to move the labor along; it worked like a charm. By lunch time I was contracting 7-9 minutes apart and was actually getting to where I didn't want to talk through some contractions. Eventually they moved up to 6-8 minutes apart and I took Little Bug home to take a nap. While she napped I had hubby on stand by to leave work soon and I decided to get the house perfect. I finished laundry, scrubbed the tubs and cleaned everything. It's possible all of the cleaning moved things even more because as I got in the shower to wash my hair, I had three contractions in 10 minutes and one with immense pressure. I quickly panicked and got out to call hubby to come home and called my mom to come sit with me. I didn't want to deliver a baby by myself!
Eventually I was feeling contractions 2-4 mins apart - some were mild and some were HARD. I was determined that this go around I would have makeup on and fixed hair, so I got dressed. Once my mom arrived we decided things were too close so we dropped Little Bug off and headed to the hospital where hubby would meet us.
And then just like what I was used to, things somewhat slowed down at the hospital but definitely intensified. I was disappointed to learn I was only 3 cm, something I had been for a week already, and I was contracting only every 6-8 minutes. After two hours of monitoring they sent me home despite me telling them I was in labor. I was in PAIN. This IS labor people and you're making me go home just so I can come back here later on -- thanks a lot folks.
I went home and took a long bath and contractions were up to 5-6 mins and were freaking hard. I remembered the doctor saying the baby was posterior earlier at the hospital and just as I thought, that meant she wasn't in prime position. So at 11 pm, I decided to do 10 lift and tucks from Spinning Babies during my next 10 contractions. This exercise helps baby engage in the pelvis and helps to speed things up. I was in so much pain but it worked like a charm. At one point I actually felt her drop down in there, it was kinda crazy!
As hubby slept, I labored in the living room walking up and down the hall, rocking in the rocking chair, standing and however I felt comfortable. There were many times that I wondered how in the heck I did this the first time.
IT HURT SO BAD.
How did I do this?
I couldn't do this again!
Around 1 pm I was riding out a contraction when my water just broke everywhere. It was relief! This finally meant that I was in true labor and could go to the hospital. In fact I was shocked it broke. In majority of pregnancies the water breaking is the last thing to really take place. I was ecstatic and also somewhat nervous as I wanted to make sure we made it to the hospital in time. Oh, and as you can imagine, my hair wasn't fixed and there was no makeup on! Go figure.
After changing my pants a few times, we arrived to the hospital only for them to have to work night and day to prove it was my water that broke. Come on people, I didn't piss my pants - it was my freaking water! Finally the test showed my water broke and I was wheeled up to a labor room and was now 4 cm. It's go time people! Wahoo!
From here it gets really quick, so hang in there! Unlike my first birth, my nurses were much more, "What do you want and whatever you want you'll get." I made all of my requests and told them my birth plan -- immediate skin to skin, delay the cord clamp until the cord stops pulsating, immediate breastfeeding, delayed bath, etc... But I left one key thing out that I joked about with my husband beforehand, "How about I pull my own baby out?!" I mean, Kourtney Kardashian did it on national TV, so then I should totally do that, right?!
My nurses were amazing and after settling in, I began making my rounds walking with my mom. She was my rock and walking buddy during the first labor and did it all again with me this time (she's the best!). I eventually got nauseous and as my nurse and I both suspected, this could mean things were getting close. She checked me and I was 5 cm but could be stretched to 7 cm (whatever that meant). I requested a bath and went labor in the tub for awhile where my amazing hubby was by my side helping me through the intense contractions (he's amazing, did I mention that?).
During my first birth I used a silly mantra that I said to myself about being a butterfly and using the visual of wings opening to visualize dilation. As crazy as it sounds, I did this again. "I am a butterfly," I said. I also prayed a lot this time. I prayed for God to help move things along because I wasn't sure if I had it in me to do another long birth. And in a sense, I guess I prayed and spoke to my baby girl because I kept telling her, "We can do this together."
Obviously, I wasn't saying these things out loud as I could hardly mumble a word, but in my own little world I was talking to myself, my baby and God.
That's how I made it through. I was in my zone as my husband calls it.
Okay guys, it's about to get quicker. I started walking again where we made maybe two laps when I started hobbling back to the room with my knees together. There was a baby coming and a baby coming soon! I hopped onto the bed and the nurse checked me. I was only 8 cm, but was so close she called the doctor, "She's 8 and ready to push." Until the doctor arrived I rode out the contractions in bed and tried to ignore the urge to push.
The doctor came (Dr. Buchert for you locals) and said I was still only 8 cm and according to her, "There's still some cervix there so you'll tear a bit if you push." It was a total buzz kill. I kid you not that I stood by the bed to ride out the very next contraction and screamed something like, "Nope she's coming, I'm pushing." I hopped onto that bed, the doctor suited up and I got ready. Finally, I was going to meet this little angel of mine after what felt like a forever of being pregnant!
At this point, I'm somewhat sitting up in the bed with my legs all open and my junk all exposed while the doctor and two nurses just sat there staring at it. They sat there starting with their arms folded just waiting. It was the most pressure I've ever felt and not vagina pressure. I'm talking pressure that I had to prove to them this baby was coming. I had to push this kid out whether I was 8 or 10 cm.
I could feel it happening but no one was moving. Everyone was watching and I screamed something like "Is it happening?" I mean, I'm pushing and feel a human being coming out and everyone's just watching me do my thang like I got this. Finally, the doctor starts working the head out and helps me from tearing. The head comes out along with the arms and she backs up and says, "Pull your baby out." I reach down and pull out the most perfect, cheesiest little person ever. She was so cheesy in her vernix coating that I couldn't get a grip at first. But I pulled her out! It was and is still the most powerful feeling and I'm so grateful that the doctor told me to do that. I will forever reach down and pull my babies out from now on! Take that Kourtney Kardashian!
My beautiful Little Fox was delivered at 5:43 am and weighed 7lbs and 7oz. She's perfect in every way. The birth was even more perfect and beautiful than I could have ever imagined. No drugs, no pitocin to speed it up and not even any tearing. The cord wasn't cut and clamped by my husband until it stopped pulsating, we did skin to skin immediately after I pulled her out (oh and she peed all over me), and we delayed the bath and breastfed.
It was PERFECT.
It was everything I imagined and more.
And so was she.
I was so emotional after this birth, more emotional than with the first I feel like. I wanted to sit and cry for some reason and it was because of so many feelings. It was surreal that she was finally here, surreal that it went so quickly and so surreal that my prayers for another beautiful, natural birth were answered. And it was of course surreal that I had another child. Another little person to care for, love on and spend my life protecting. It's amazing how your heart just expands instantaneously for the new little being that you bring into the world.
I have relived this birth every day since then and wish I could go back. My daughters' births are perhaps the most amazing, magical and breath taking moments that I have ever experienced. Yes it hurts no doubt, but it is SO worth it to me. It's so worth it to feel my body do what it was designed to do for them. There's nothing like it...
Motherhood just rocks.
And childbirth is pretty flipping amazing!
So when my next pregnancy comes around one day, yes I do plan on having another natural labor. But all I can do is plan and pray. Our bodies are meant to do this and God doesn't give us any pain that we can't handle. While unfortunately not all births can be as smooth, it is possible to have the birth you want. However it's also wise to be open minded and to be grateful that medical intervention is there if we need it -- they save the lives of babies and mothers everyday.
However if your body or your baby doesn't need medical intervention (and most don't), believe in your ability to do this. Believe in your body's ability go to into labor on it's own despite a close or past due date; believe in your ability to deliver a baby no matter how big they may "suspect" (unless it's ginormous of course!) and even believe in your ability to do it naturally. If I can, anyone can. If a natural labor is something you want then go for it. Read some good books and take a class or two and believe in yourself. However never beat yourself up because you couldn't do it or because you had to go another route.
All that ever matters is a safe and healthy delivery. There is no medal or badge for the most awesome labor or strongest woman. We all do the same - we grow human beings, we deliver them and we nourish them. But you can believe in yourself that you can do this. The pain of childbirth fades away...but the memories of that amazing and empowering moment never will.
God doesn't give us anything we can't handle...
Just when you think you can't, you push a little more and the next thing you know, you pushed out a baby.
“Remember this, for it is as true and true gets: Your body is not a lemon. You are not a machine. The Creator is not a careless mechanic. Human female bodies have the same potential to give birth well as aardvarks, lions, rhinoceri, elephants, moose, and water buffalo. Even if it has not been your habit throughout your life so far, I recommend that you learn to think positively about your body.”
― Ina May Gaskin, Ina May's Guide to Childbirth
Thank you for reading our birth story! Here's to celebrating each and every birth no matter how you deliver! We all have a story to tell...