Sunday, August 7, 2011
My prenatal Yoga instructor in Savannah, GA would collect birth stories from her former students to read to her current, pregnant students. It was a lovely thing. And I would love to share mine with you now.
I had a baby about 9:20pm on May 9th, 2011. Her name is Iris. She is the most recent, precious addition to our family. Our birth was nothing short of amazing.
After my first experience with labor and delivery with my older daughter, Mirabelle, you would think I might never want to have another child. Nothing terribly dramatic happened. But labor was over 38 hours...it could have been more, but I lost count on day two. I labored my little heart out. I was unfamiliar with birthing and what to expect. Though we had a doula, though I had read some awesome books, though I had watched several thousand documentaries and Discovery Health Channel deliveries, you never know and cannot perfectly prepare for what to do with your body during your very first labor and delivery. I did my best. But after about 30 hours, I caved and allowed my husband and the hospital to push me toward an epidural. I regretted that decision for years after. For me (the only person I can speak for), it stalled my labor. Everything stopped. The medical team around me grew concerned for Mirabelle because she had been in the birth canal trying to come out, with no success for so many long hours. I was minutes away from a c-section. But then, water broke, about 10-15 minutes of pushing and there she was. Perfect and in my arms at my breast.
I had such a long and uncomfortable labor the first time for so many different reasons, I did not know how I was going to do it different this time. I was just sure of that one fact, it WAS going to be different this time.
I felt labor begin about 2:30pm the day Iris came. I was not sure if I was in labor. I had had interesting sensations and feelings all over my body all day long. I thought it was just 3rd trimester pregnancy stuff. But around the late afternoon I lazily called my husband and told him to be ready to possibly be hearing me labor that night after he got home from work...and told him, maybe do not dilly dally or go to the store on his way home...I was feeling early labor pains, I thought. Sweet as he is, he came right home anyway, just to be with me. He left work early and thank God he did!
I wanted a natural labor and birth. I just didn't want to have to think about any meds, drugs, chemicals, complications. I wanted to have the strength to go through this experience the way (I think) God intended. Should there be any concerns or risks evolving, of course I would trust the military hospital and go along with the medicinal or surgical plans they have to save me or the baby any unnecessary suffering or danger. But I just had the feeling that if I breathed and trusted myself, my higher guidance would kick in and all would flow perfectly. I was so determined for this to happen, I doubted myself greatly. A silly little voice that I know a lot of people have, like me, came out all the 9 months and I stupidly thought, I want this so bad there is no way it will happen. Because nothing ever works out.
When 5pm rolled around and my contractions were big and about 2 minutes apart. I was shocked that I didn't feel like I had a 30 hour marathon ahead of me like last time, which I fully expected. So we readied ourselves to go to the hospital to make sure everything was ok. After getting a neighbor to watch over the 3 year old. Contacted the generous Mother in law who was flying over the Pacific THAT NIGHT to "hang out until the baby came." Ha! And after double checking the hospital over night bag, off we went.
I could hardly stand any bumps, stops or starts in the car. I hated sitting. I needed motion in my body, pacing, walking, rocking, stretching. With both labors, that is all I ever wanted. No laying in a warm bath. No massages from husband or anyone. No sitting on birth balls. I just wanted to pace and move and not stop moving until it was time to push.
At 7pm we laid down in triage to check me and sure enough I was over 6 centimeters. Wow, this was going fast. I readied myself to be in labor in a hospital room for the next 8 hours or so. And then the contractions got huger and huger. I was breathing and dealing just fine until the Doctor came in and told me "he really preferred if women would just get epidurals, there was no sense wriggling all over the bed like an octopus in pain." That was precisely when my labor started to hurt and become unbearable. I did not fight with him. I just told him I didn't want that and shut my mouth. I could not talk or focus on that stupid-ness anyway, the contractions were too intense. One nurse and my husband had my back. They both told me I could do it and they supported me.
They had mentioned pain meds that were oral and NOT an epidural earlier in the night. I ignored it then, but at this time, I was so overwhelmed and uncomfortable I did not know how to persevere. I asked the nurse for the pain meds, whatever they were. She said she had to check me first and I could not take them past 9 centimeters, but I was probably fine, she just had to make sure first. She checked me and I was 10 centimeters. And only about an hour and a half had gone by since I checked in! She told me not to push yet, even if I wanted to, she was leaving to get the stuff to ready the room for delivery. There was no opportunity for caving...I was on my own at this point. Just as I had wanted. I have to admit, I was relived I did not have to be the one to make the decision any longer.
The midwife I saw the entire 9 months was supposed to be on her way to deliver the baby. But no one thought I would progress that quickly. She never made it before go time. Everything was so intense, I just sat there and grunted from deep within my throat, lungs and belly. I know I sounded like a man who had been a trucker and thick smoker his whole heavy-drinkin'-women-chasin' life. I had nothing and I mean nothing to do but pray to my most faithful angel, my Grandma. She is who I talk to most often in prayer. I know she is with me. All. The. Time. And I know she was with me then. I really feel like she orchestrated it so I would have an amazing birth, the way I wanted. She did because I asked her to. On my last big contraction, that I can remember, I was on the hospital bed, on my side. I wanted to lay down, but laying down just did not feel right, again. I knew that if I rested, labor would slow. And if I thrust upward, this baby would come the way my body needed it to.
1. Contraction came with a vengeance.
2. I squeezed my eyes shut super tight.
3. I prayed: "Grandma, please, please, please help me!" (I could form no other thoughts)
4. I grabbed for my husband's available hand.
5. I used his strong hand and arm to heave me to an upright, seat.
6. My water breaks and I scream, "go get the Doctor I neeeed to push now!!!!"
7. Chad exits the room faster than a drug dealer runs from the cops.
In comes the nurses and Doc and I am flailing all over the table as he had predicted. The baby came right into the world with MAYBE three pushes. There she was. Iris.
The Doc said the chord was wrapped around her neck two times. But it seemed loose enough where he was not terribly concerned. She was placed almost immediately on my belly. Her crying face looked just like her big sister's. But her hair was red, eyes blue. I felt an amazing sense of relief. I had no pain. I had no stress. I had no numbness. I had no shaking. I had no doubts. I only had peace. Perfect happiness.
I absolutely do not ever judge anyone, ever who does not choose natural child birth. I know that everyone does what they think they need to do and that is perfect. But I do want to tell you, that if you or anyone you know is considering natural child birth, I can say, after having two polar opposite birth experiences:
Trust your body as God's design. It knows what it needs to do and cannot tell as easily what your instincts are asking of you if you drug yourself. I know because I have felt birth both ways. With my first labor, I caved and in came the interventions when labor stalled and one thing after another rolled out. This time, I prayed. I tried. And yes, labor was VERY fast, but I just listened to my body for 99% of labor and made it through just fine.
Recovery was amazing compared to my first birth as well. I felt flu-like symptoms with my first birth after about a week of recovery. I was down and out. No way to bond with a new one. But this time, I was on cloud nine and out shopping 2 days later. It was heaven. Truly heaven.
Thank you Gram.