During my pregnancy with Seth, I enjoyed hearing other mothers' birth stories because as I'm repeatedly reminded, every mother has a birth story that is uniquely shared between her and her child. It is special, regardless of how painful and difficult labor is, because it's the story that belongs to her of how her child came into the world.
This is my story of bringing Seth into the world. It may be slightly "detailed", so you can skip reading that if you choose.:) I'm writing it down because I never want to forget the moments before and after came into this world, as it was one of the most emotional and adrenaline-infused moments of my life.
As I prepared for labor and delivery (L&D) in the last few weeks of my pregnancy, Jason and I practiced breathing and relaxation with focal points. Jason was a great coach during practice time. I was a little bewildered and apprehensive with how the delivery would actually happen.
From the beginning of my pregnancy, I was sure that I could not handle the pain of L&D so my MO was that when I go into labor, hook me up with an epidural. I believed that I was a wimp when it comes to handling pain, I could not handle this and it would be better not to feel anything at all.
About 6 months into pregnancy, I knew I needed to begin to prepare myself for giving birth. Being the little researcher I am, I couldn't stop myself from reading a ton about the different options and possible scenarios that could happen during L&D, like doing scheduled inductions, scheduled and emergency C-sections, natural birth with no medications, narcotic medications, epidurals, pitocin, etc. I became concerned because I knew how I didn't want the L&D to happen. I realized that I was more concerned about having a C-section than I was about giving birth to my baby with no medications.
At the same time, Jason and I attended our birth classes where we learned relaxation and breathing techniques for handling contractions during L&D. At one point during the practice sessions, I completely zoned in and got so relaxed that I drooled all down the front of my pillow that I was holding. Yes - I just admitted that, but are you surprised?
After the sessions, Jason really spurred me on by saying that he thought I really handled the breathing & relaxation so well that perhaps I could give birth naturally. His confidence was the turning point that made me opt to give birth naturally. As I wrote my birth plan, my motto became that I wanted to give birth naturally without medications, but that if I felt that I would get out of control or couldn't handle it, I would ask for an epidural.
I also had my pregnancy care through North Metro Midwives, a fantastic group of 3 certified nurse practicioners/midwives - Karen, Kathrin, and Amy. I regularly met with each of them during my pregnancy so I felt like they were in tune with my birth wishes and my situation.
Fast forward to December 16, 2009: exactly one week past my due date. I was exactly 41 weeks, which really wasn't supposed to surprise me because according to my midwives, first-time mothers typically give birth late. That was me! I was pleased that I had made it to my company's Christmas party the night before - it was the going joke that my baby wasn't going to come because earlier in my pregnancy, I had mentioned I wanted to make the Christmas party. I also had scheduled my 41-week apt with my midwives for Dec. 16th at 9:15am.
I was slightly disappointed that I had not gone into labor yet, but firmly believed that Seth would be born when he was ready. I was concerned that I would get up to 42 weeks and then have to be induced. I didn't want to be induced.
3:00 am: I got up and empty my bladder and went back to bed, but had a hard time falling back to sleep. I experienced two contractions, but they felt like the braxton hicks contractions I've experienced so many times. Seth was moving around in my stomach, like he usually did between 3-4am. I felt like I needed to empty my poor bladder again and when I did, I noticed the [GRAPHIC PREGNANCY TERM UP AHEAD] bloody show. I wondered, "Hmm....could it be my water breaking?" I didn't notice any major trickle, so I went back to bed and by then I had tossed and turned so much that Jason was now up. I decided I would call my midwives at 8am to tell them my symptoms ahead of time.
I experienced a few more contractions that slightly shifted and began to feel like what I call, "menstrual cramp contractions". The contractions felt more like menstrual cramps.
5:00 a.m.: I took a bath to relax, then I took a shower and got ready for work, because I thought maybe I would have to go to work after my midwife apt. I wore jeans, my green shirt and black cardigan. I still had contractions that came every 10 minutes or so.
6-8:00 a.m.: I had breakfast, checked some work emails, did some emailing and got a few things packed in the car...."just in case". It was at this point that I felt the contractions were different enough that maybe, just maybe it was labor. I waited for Jason to get ready. It was at this point that I told Jason I felt we needed to have things in order and that maybe we wouldn't be coming home in the afternoon. Jason was like a busy bee and got things in order before we left.
8:30 a.m.: the contractions were a little uncomfortable, so I sat on the exercise ball for a few minutes before we headed to meet my midwives. There was still traffic on the highways and I started to become a little anxious that we wouldn't make our appointment.
9:15 a.m.: Kathrin gave me a pad to test my fluids and she hooked me up to an external monitor to monitor Seth's heart rate and my contractions.
10:00 a.m.: Kathrin came into our room and said that my waters had indeed broke and we would need to go to the hospital. Oh, but that we also needed to stop through a drive-through and get Jason some food on the way. Wahoo! We're going to the hospital to give birth to my baby (imagine sing-songy voice)!
10:30 a.m.: We arrive on the L&D floor at North Memorial Hospital, where my other midwife, Amy, greeted us. I was in good spirits - so was she, but she always is.:) We saluted each other with a Mary Katherine Gallagher (SNL) "Super Star!" pose in the hallway. I needed that funny moment to distract me from realizing that I was at the hospital. To give birth. To my baby. Without meds.
11:00 a.m.: My L&D nurse, Marcia, hooked me up with my first ever IV because I had tested positive for Group B Strep, so I needed antibiotics. Can you believe that I refused to look in the direction of the needle while she inserted it? Refer up to the "wimp" section as mentioned above. But I made Jason take a picture of me with my first-ever IV. Marcia also put a monitor on me to track my contractions and Seth's heart rate. Doing good. Contractions are between 3-5 minutes. I'm using my breathing techniques. Jason has unpacked our fifty-million bags that we brought.
11:15 a.m.: Amy comes to do a cervix exam: 5 cms. She was amazed that I appeared to be handling the contractions so well.
11:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.: I continue to work through the contractions that are between 3-5 minutes apart. I sit in the rocking chair and rock through the contractions using the breathing techniques. Jason sits on the exercise ball in front of me, holding my hands and rocking with me when I have a contraction. They feel like strong menstrual cramps. I get hooked up to the monitor for 15 minutes every hour or so, so Jason and I pass the time by looking at how long my contractions are on the monitor. It passes the time. Amy and Marcia pop in and out of our room during this whole time.
1:30 p.m. - 2:00pm: I take a bath in the jacuzzi tub with the bubbles going. I love the tub and Jason and I comment that the size would be perfect for our bathroom at home. It's relaxing, but when contractions come, I rock side to side and it isn't quite the same so I finish my bath and go back to the rocker.
2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.: I'm back in the rocker. The contractions seem to get a little more intense. I told Jason to get some food, since I felt stable enough with Amy staying with me while he left to get food.
3:00 p.m.: Before Jason left, I told Jason and Amy that I would decide at 3:30 if I wanted to get an epidural. While Jason stepped out, I experienced some tougher contractions and when Jason got back, I had several strong contractions and it was at 3:25 that I was feeling at the end of my rope with handling the contractions. They were getting really strong and I was working so hard with the breathing to get through them. I didn't think I could continue on with the contractions, especially since I didn't know how much time I had left until the actual birth. It was at that point that I looked at Jason and Amy and said that I wanted to get an epidural. I started to cry and shake because on the one hand I was relieved that I could get some relief, but on the other hand I felt sad that I would not be delivering Seth naturally. Before Amy could order an epidural, she checked to see how dialate I was.
Amy looked at me and said, "Instead of having an epidural, how would you like to deliver your baby? You're dialated 10 cm." I looked at her and cried, "Oh, no! I can't do this." I got scared, so I cried. The next couple of minutes passed as Amy and Marcia got me prepped to do some pushing.
3:30 - 4:24 p.m.: Do I really want to recall this? Jason was up by my head, coaching me while Marcia and Amy were at my side by my feet. It took me about a half hour to really get in the groove of pushing during a contraction. At one point I remember asking Amy how much longer I had to push and she said that pushing can be about 1-2 hours. I groaned. I think that was a turning point when I got gumption and started really focusing on the pushing - Jason, Marcia and Amy would all tell me when to push, take a breath, push again, take another breath and push again...all during one contraction. Amy would keep checking on Seth's head and tell me how much head was showing, which really spurred me on to keep pushing especially when I felt like I was making no progress. They kept encouraging me. I knew when I hit the point of Seth's head almost through - known as the "ring of fire". Yep - it hurt and burned, but didn't seem to last long. I was pretty vocal with yelling through the pushes. It made me feel empowered.:)
4:24 p.m.: I gave my hardest push, Amy said "here he is!" and Seth entered the world. I was so relieved! I saw Amy raise him up out of me, I could see his umbilical cord attached to him still and she put Seth right on my chest. It was the sweetest moment that I hope I never forget. I asked Jason if he recalled what we said when he was placed on my chest. Jason was so focused on me making sure I was okay because I apparently was yelling so loud through the last push.
Jason introduced our baby as Seth Roger and then for the next two hours, it was just me, Jason, and Seth together in the room while Amy stitched a small 1st degree tear on me. Seth was so alert that I could not believe it. I was talking to him and he was so intent on watching my eyes and mouth. It was so beautiful. He knew my voice and he could not stop looking. I will have those moments etched in my memory for a long time. Seth's sweet eyes gazing up at his mommy. I am Seth's mommy. I am a mommy. Later that night as I slept, his eyes would not leave my mind....I could not sleep!
6:00 pm: We were moved to a postpartum recovery room. We had some special moments when Jason's mom and my parents came to meet him for the first time.
I did not sleep hardly a wink that night because I kept replaying and replaying Seth's delivery. It was intense, highly emotional and filled with adrenaline. Then, I would see Seth's face and eyes staring up at me.
We decided to have Seth sleep in the nursery. The night nurse, Erin, was terrific because she helped me work on getting a good breastfeeding latch with Seth. It was also really nice because I would kind of sleep, then Erin would wheel Seth in every couple of hours and say, "Hello, mommy! Seth is here!" I'd raise my bed, take my sweet Seth, try to feed him, cuddle with him, ring for Erin and she took him back to the nursery until the next feeding. It was bliss and I almost asked if she could come home with me and do this every night. Could you imagine that? Your nurse comes to your bed with your baby for a feeding during the night and then she brings him back to his nursery to change and go back to bed.
Someone asked if I would ever do a natural birth again and I adamantly have said no and that I would ask for an epidural much sooner. However, I didn't realize how true it was that you begin to forget the pain. It is starting to fade from my memory. But the memory of the adrenaline rush and highly emotional moments at Seth's birth will stay with me for a long time. I got a reputation while I was in postpartum because I had Seth naturally without drugs and my midwives called to congratulate me for doing it. They were so proud of me. Amy said she had such a high after my delivery and that my delivery were the reasons why she became a midwife.
I am so glad and proud that I was able to give birth to Seth naturally. Yes, it was a painful experience, but God helped me by giving me strength to get through it. My reward is my sweet, alert Seth and my husband who kept praising how well I did.