With my son Finn, I had a hospital birth, a fourth degree tear, and I was in labor for 24 hours once I got to the hospital (not including the night before and day of which was another 16 hours). Finn did not want to come out!
I labored the first 20 hours at the hospital and was not allowed to eat. I did everything I could to try to get him to come. I had complete back labor with him that was extremely painful and I finally took some pain medicine about 20 hours in because I was so exhausted. I fell asleep and woke up to immense pain (I was dilated to about a 7), so I took the epidural, they broke my water and he was out within a couple of hours. I won’t lie, the epidural was like heaven.
After they broke my water, (which they actually had to do twice!) the contractions started coming on strong according to the monitor but I really couldn’t feel them because of the epidural. Then suddenly I started feeling pain and extreme pressure and asked if they could give me more medicine and they said I would have to wait another hour and a half – and I said then I’m pushing this baby out!!!
It was exhausting being in labor for so long. One intervention led to another intervention which seems to be the way it goes at the hospital. I tried so hard to do it medicine-free but ultimately gave in after hours of painful labor that wasn’t progressing. I was determined to have a different experience the next time.
With my daughter, I decided to go with a birthing center to have the option to labor in the water. The whole pregnancy was completely different and going in for my check-ups was a much more relaxing experience. I was scared to not have the option of the epidural for labor, but I kept telling myself I wouldn’t need it this time.
On September 4th, my contractions started at 10:30am and came on slowly. After completing some work for a deadline, I laid down to try to nap around 2pm. They told me if I could nap I wasn’t close enough. I used a little of our Keep Movin’ Cream which helped ease the pain a lot and the contractions felt easier to manage for a little bit, then about 45 minutes later they came on super strong and I told my husband that we might need to head to the birthing center soon. I was being stubborn though and taking my time – I did not want to have an experience like I had with my son. My husband told me to stop stalling and let’s go!
We left around 3:20pm to head down there (although I had to stop at our store to print something out for the deadline – my husband thought I was crazy). On the car ride my contractions were coming on really strong and getting very intense. They were coming every 3-4 minutes and were about a minute long. I had to send an email and worked on it in between contractions and it helped to keep my mind distracted. I brought a rebozo to help lift my belly during contractions and that helped a little bit. I called my doula on the way to ask her to come and I also called the birthing center when we were about 5 minutes out and asked if they could fill the tub. The contractions were strong enough that they were bringing tears to my eyes so it felt like it was getting close.
We arrived at 4:10. She checked me and said I was about 8 centimeters dilated and I was so thankful I was almost there. It felt strange that I was about to have a baby that afternoon! As soon as we arrived, I had a very intense contraction and asked my husband to push on my back. I knew I had about 2-3 minutes until the next contraction so I changed and got immediately in the water and it quickly helped me to feel more relaxed. I truly believe the water made a tremendous difference for me, I honestly don’t know that I could have done it without it. They had a nitrous oxide/oxygen combo which I decided to take. It didn’t take away the pain but it took the edge off.
Almost right away I felt the need to start pushing. The pain was like something I’ve never experienced before and I got into what I can only describe to as my “primal” brain. The pain was insane. They had to remind me to stop breathing in the nitrous oxide so I didn’t pass out! I could feel her starting to crown and “the ring of fire”. I was barely able to talk but said, “Please tell me she is coming” and they told me she was almost there.
Up to that point, my water had not broken and finally, it broke. Then her head came out and they told me to stop pushing and wait until the next contraction. Umm how do I stop pushing?? I stopped but it was incredibly difficult. The next contraction came on and I pushed with every ounce of my being and she made her grand entrance into the water. Wow I said, “that was the most painful thing I’ve ever done” with a little laugh.
The midwife pulled her out of the water and handed her to me. The feeling of holding my baby girl in my arms was indescribable. Lily was here by 4:50pm, 40 minutes after I got to the birthing center!! She weighed a whopping 9lbs, 1 oz. I’m glad that I didn’t know how big she was going to be ahead of time! The delivery experiences between the hospital and the birthing center were a night and day difference. At the birthing center, I was allowed to eat and to birth the way I wanted to birth. No silly rules like I had to lay on my back to birth like I did at the hospital. Laying on my back seemed totally counterproductive and unnatural to me. It made a huge difference to be in an upright position and feel totally relaxed in the water. I would never want to do anything other than a water birth again!!
Also, enlisting the help of a doula made a big difference. She helped during my pregnancy to find better ways to be able to handle labor. She was also very helpful during my labor to remind me to breathe and relax! Right after I had Lily, she helped her latch, gave me support, and also took my placenta and encapsulated it to help during postpartum. She was wonderful and played a big role in helping me be able to have a natural labor.
Being able to birth her naturally was so rewarding for me and I believe it also was for Lily. It can happen, and it was much, much better than getting an epidural and not being able to feel anything . I would do it again naturally 100x over.
I was also able to move around almost right away (after my epidural with my son I had to wait hours before I could get up). I had her at 4:50pm and left the birthing center by 8:30pm and headed home. My mother-in-law couldn’t believe we were almost home when we called her on the car ride. It was an unbelievable experience that I will never forget! Welcome to the world Lily Grace!