I love sharing birth stories but it is especially exciting to share one from a student. I met this couple very early in their pregnancy and got to have them in class. They were so dedicated and worked and studied to get the birth they want. They finally decided to birth in the hospital and I am so glad they had the wonderful experience they deserved. There is nothing better than being a birth teacher! (Except for being a mom.)
The morning of July 23rd arrived. This was my “due date” that had been given to me about 9 months ago. At the time I laughed and thought “why do they even give you a due “DATE”? They should just give you a due week or even month! I was determined to not let that date be too engrained in my head and so when people asked me when I was due I replied “Sometime at the end of July or early August”. That worked for a little while, but once this day was approaching and even more so when it came I felt the pressure. Having been fully effaced and 1cm dilated for over a week now I was ready for this baby to come! Well even though I spent the previous week hiking my butt up the hill behind my house, there was still no sign of her arrival on that day.
Two days later, Wednesday, July 25th, I spent most of the early morning getting unusually sick. I was thinking I must have eaten something bad the night before, but wasn’t sure what that could have been. I spent the morning and afternoon trying to sleep it off. Around 3pm I started getting sick again so I took another nap. I decided not to go out that night like I planned and just stay home and rest instead.
Around 7:00pm I began feeling very strange, unlike the sickness I felt before. I got my first contraction that felt different than any of the braxton hicks I had felt in the months before. I decided to spend some time on the exercise ball, getting in a good cry (from the show) while I watched Army Wives. Around 7:30 I felt a contraction that was very intense and completely different even from the few I had just felt. I continued to sit and rotate my hips on the ball.
My husband got home at 9:30pm. By that time my contractions were about 9-12 minutes apart. I looked at him right when he walked in the door and said “Babe, I’m totally in labor!” He laughed and got so excited! We decided that while I was working through contractions we would put on a few episodes of Burn Notice we had to catch up on as a hopeful distraction to their discomfort.
Around 11:00pm we decided to go for a walk. At this point my contractions were about 5-6 minutes apart and would last at least 30 seconds long. As we walked my contractions got stronger and stronger that I couldn’t move when they came on. We got back home where I took a bath and shower and the contractions kept on coming.
By 1:00am (now July 26th) my contractions were 3-5min apart and lasting 45-60 seconds each so I decided to call Kaiser to let them know I was coming up at some point. The nurse told me that she wanted me to wait one more hour then come up if my contractions stayed as consistent. Well, 2:00am came and passed and even though my contractions were still getting stronger and staying consistent, I wasn’t ready to go to the hospital yet, I wanted to be home.
Around 3:00am my husband so lovingly reminded me that we had a 25-30min drive to the hospital and that if I was now at 3min contractions lasting for just over 1 minute that it would be best for us to head up. So he packed the rest of our things in the car and at 3:45 we did just that. Being in the car was awful. Traffic was terrible due to night construction and every contraction felt worse and worse, especially since I was strapped to a chair on a bumpy road!
We checked into Labor & Delivery at 4:15am, where I was given a vaginal exam by my amazing nurse – I was dilated to 4 1/2 centimeters. My contractions were lasting almost 2 minutes at that point. I got in the shower and stayed in there for almost 30min through several painful contractions. After I got out the midwife came in and she wanted to check me; I was then at 6 centimeters! During the next hour, between 5:45-6:45 I moved around, squatted, sat on the birthing ball, whatever I wanted to do during the contractions to make myself feel a little relief from the pain. I was amazed at how the contraction seemed to last for so long but the in between time flew by so fast!
The nurse came in and calmly told me “Ok, we think your baby might be on the larger side. This could be potential for complications that we just need you to know about right now just in case. We are thinking she could be somewhere between 8-10lbs, and because you have never given birth we don’t know if she will fit ok or not. We will let you continue to go completely natural and we will watch for any warning signs to keep you both safe.” She went on to explain some of the risks, the main one being shoulder dysplasia. I kind of panicked! 10 pounds!? What if she did get stuck? What if I get some insane tear? Oh my gosh – Why do they break this news to you while in labor?? Come on!
Well, at 6:45am I was in so much pain, I looked at Dave and said “I don’t know what I was thinking with this whole “no drugs” thing! I can’t do this! I just can’t do it. I need to rest but they won’t stop coming and they hurt so bad!” He calmly and sweetly reassured me that I was strong, that I was capable and that I could do this for our baby girl. I wanted to believe him, but I had been under the impression that I was going to have this crazy long labor since it was my first, so I was thinking I was going to have to go on like this all day long! I told the nurse “I don’t want an epidural but is there anything I can do to just give my body a rest for like 10 minutes even. She told me about one drug I could take that would help me sleep in between contractions. For a minute it sounded so tempting. She then said “the only way I can give it to you, if you decide you want it, is if you’re under a 6. Let’s check you.”
Well to my surprise, here I was at 9 centimeters!! My husband later told me he knew I was in transition because of the classic sign that we learned about in our birthing class, the sign that the woman will beg and plead for any relief, even drugs, because of the intense pain of transition.” I was so happy to know he was paying so much attention in our Bradley class!
A 9! I couldn’t believe I was at a 9! Oh my gosh, it was really happening! At 7am the midwife came in and told me I had just a little lip of cervix over the baby’s head and that if I spent the next few contractions squatting that I would be fully dilated and ready to push. However, the baby was in posterior position so before I could squat I needed to spend time on my left side so she could turn. I spent the next 3 most incredibly painful contractions on my left side and sure enough, she turned, and it hurt like hell. I then went from my side into a squatting position on the side of the bed.
Just then they had a shift change and I lost my amazing nurse who was such a great coach and support and gained one who was a lot more commanding and serious. I wasn’t very happy about this change and neither was my first nurse, but she wasn’t allowed to stay overtime. I didn’t have the energy to really spend time thinking about the change too much, I was very focused and engaged on what was going on inside me.
Around 7:35am I went on my hands and knees on the bed when I felt the urges to push. I had a fetal monitor on my belly at that point but it wasn’t picking up her heartbeat as well as the new nurse wanted so she put a pulse reader on my finger, which I constantly took off in the middle of contractions because it was so annoying to me. She wasn’t very happy with that and wasn’t able to find the baby’s heartbeat and said we needed to put an internal monitor on the baby’s head. I got into a side lying position, continued to push and they put on the monitor, quickly her heart rate showed up.
Next thing I remember is that the midwife and a doctor came in. I later found out the doctor was there “just in case” the baby got stuck. She just stood against the wall behind the midwife. I continued to push and they asked me to reach down and feel the baby’s head. I couldn’t believe this was happening. I couldn’t believe it was MY BABY’S head!! After two more pushes she emerged, screamed out loud and was plopped right onto my stomach and chest.
The feeling of this beautiful life coming from my body was the most intense rush I’ve ever felt in my life, one that I doubt will ever be topped. I was overwhelmed with emotions of joy, pride, adrenaline and pure love. Tears flowed so fast that I could barely see through them, but hearing her cry was all I needed in that moment. I looked up and saw my husband, also in tears, with the biggest smile I’ve ever seen on his face. He later said something like “I was overjoyed and amazed at our baby girl but the tears of joy were all for you – I was so incredibly proud of you, you did it! I wanted to go shout to the world that my wife is a superhero, she just birthed a baby all on her own!” haha. I love him so much!!
Elise Marie was born on July 26th at 8:22am weighing 8lbs 5oz and 20.5in long. She had a beautiful head of hair and eyes that were so wide and absolutely stunning from the moment she opened them. We were both absolutely head over heels in love in a matter of seconds.
Despite a horrible tear that brought on all kinds of complications for me, I was very happy with the whole birth experience and what my body was able to do. I am so honored to be a woman who was able to have this experience that changed me forever. I am so amazed at the incredible thing God created my body to do and that He gave me the strength to do it. The sense of accomplishment I feel is unreal and unlike any other feelings I’ve had before. I pray that I get to do it all over again someday!
Since I had denied antibiotics for Strep-B (that I had tested positive for at 20wks but negative for at 37wks) we were asked to stay for 48hrs for observation. The nurses treated me like a queen, I was so happy with the postpartum care. We had a beautiful room with a bed for Dave to stay with us and plenty of room for our family and friends to visit. To top all of that, Elise was a great breast feeder from the start, I was so happy!
This child has the most beautiful personality. She is so laid back, content and happy. I knew something was special about her from the moment I saw her, but when she looked me in the eyes the day after she was born and gave me a huge smile it was even more confirmed. She smiled since she was a day old and hasn’t stopped smiling since!
I owe my husband a paragraph, too! From the beginning of my pregnancy he was so incredibly supportive, helpful and surprisingly willing to read the 39th article I had found on whatever pregnancy or birth that day. He went above and beyond what I ever would have expected him to do for me, but that should not have surprised me since he has been that way since the day I met him; always wanting to serve others so selflessly.
Our birthing class was 6 weeks long, almost an hour drive each way and full of information that most men don’t enjoy learning about, but he came, participated and made sure I knew how much he was supporting me. During labor he was so gentle, patient and present for me, listening to the things I needed and watching for the silent cues so I didn’t even have to ask. He prayed over me both out loud and to himself and that made me feel so at peace. I don’t know how I got so lucky to have someone so incredible as my husband and as the father of our beautiful child.
I could not be more thankful for an amazing pregnancy that I enjoyed so much and the birth experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything. I am so in love with this beautiful life and the blessing to be a mother again!