I know it's been a long time since I've written on my blog but it's never too late to start again! I wanted to share my birth story with whomever might be interested. Unlike most women who opt for the traditional doctor/hospital birth, I opted for a midwife/home birth and wouldn't have it any other way!
After meeting with an OBGYN at Cedar Sinai Hospital I had an unsettled feeling. There was nothing in particular that seemed off, I just knew in my spirit that I wanted a different experience. I've always hated hospitals and had a feeling that if I chose to have the baby there chances are I wouldn't be comfortable. I went home and watched the infamous home birth documentary, "The Business of Being Born", on Netflix. Case closed. I was going to find a midwife and have a home birth! I encourage all of you to watch it and then decided for yourself. I am in no way against hospital births but would definitely recommend educating yourself about how "the system" works. Now, on to my story.
It was 7:00 pm on February 5th when I felt a painful cramp, much like a menstrual cramp and wondered if this could be the cramp I'd been waiting for (quite impatiently) for 9 months! It turns out it was! My husband and I had just finished dinner, which consisted of baked chicken and veggies complimented with a glass of red wine (don't worry I only drank a little bit) and were in the middle of watching "The Godfather 3". I noticed the cramps getting a little stronger and strangely frequent. At 7:30 I began to time them and by 8:30 I called my midwife explaining that contractions were coming every 3-4 minutes and lasting for about 45 seconds to 1 minute. She calmly told me to hang in there and call her back when my water broke or when the contractions were much stronger. I was somewhat perplexed, I didn't know what to expect, they hurt pretty bad, how much worse were they going to get?! I had a bit of a freak out moment so Josiah sat down in front of me and calmed me down with reassuring words that everything was going to be ok and that I could do this.
The contractions were getting so intense that I couldn't sit on the couch or the bed any longer so I decided to lay on my side in the freshly waterproofed bedding. After a few minutes on my side I felt the warm gush. I yelled to Josiah that my water had broken and then went into shock. It was only 9:30! In my mind the baby was going to come any minute and the midwife wasn't going to be there! My body started to shake uncontrollably and I called the midwife explaining that my water had broken. She sat on the phone with me through two contractions then said to keep laboring and call her again a little later. What?! The?! Heck?! I was scared but said ok and hung up. She then called back not two minutes later and told Josiah she would head over to our apartment.
She arrived after 10:00 p.m and began setting up without interrupting my concentration. The contractions were so intense I don't really remember what was going on this next hour except having thoughts of, "I can't do this" and "I DON'T WANT to do this!" and "I'm never doing this again!" Fortunately I have a well-controled tongue and never spoke these thoughts, knowing the power of words and not wanting to give any foothold to fear in pain. I was on my knees, leaning against the bed, using gravity to my advantage, hoping it might just pull the baby out for me. Through loud groans and only being able to say/yell the word, "God" as a desperate prayer, I was progressing. We worried the neighbors wouldn't appreciate how loudly I was progressing seeing as how we shared a bedroom wall with them, but I had no intention of leaving my bedside out of courtesy. (It turns out they weren't even home that night).
After 11:00 p.m. my midwife's assistant arrived and I was checked to see how far dilated I was. I was informed that I was about 8-9 cm dilated and was free to push when I felt the urge.
I couldn't believe it was already time to push! I jumped the gun and just started pushing since she gave me the green light, looking back I should have waited a little bit longer because I was on the road to exhaustion.
Now where was Josiah through all of this? He was right by my side, holding my hand and speaking encouragement. I squeezed him so tight and didn't want him to leave me alone, even to let the midwife in the door! I couldn't do this thing alone like I believed I would have wanted to while I was envisioning my labor experience as a pregnant (and ignorant) woman.
After pushing and being on my knees for about an hour and a half I was exhausted! I wasn't sustaining my pushes even though the assistant was counting and coaching me. They suggested I try laying down on my right side and lifting my left leg in the air each push. It sounded like the worst idea in the world to me but I tried it. With my head on Josiah's lap, my right hand squeezing his outstretched right foot and my left hand holding my left leg up in the air with his help, I made substantial progress. I knew it was almost time to meet my baby girl. Then I felt the head come down as I pushed and instead of going back it stayed, I was SO close! Feeling a head in your pelvis is motivation to push super hard and get the sucker out as fast as possible. By next push her head was out and with one more, her body followed. Before I knew it I had a warm, limp little body on my chest, it was 12:57 a.m. on February 6th, my dad's, and now my daughter's birthday.
I was expecting a magical euphoric high like I had read and heard about. I believed I would feel no more pain once I had my baby in my arms and was confused why I still felt quite sore down there as I was trying to enjoy the moment. The reality that giving birth actually hurts slapped me in the face. I had envisioned a peaceful, supernatural experience but instead had a mildly violent, carnal, labor and delivery. I am quite thankful that from beginning to end it only took 5 1/2 hours (for a first child this is almost unheard of), but now I understand the right of passage to becoming a mother. I'm glad I didn't numb my lower half because I don't think the motivation to push her out that fast would have been there. I'm glad it was just me and my husband in our home so my body and mind didn't have extra stress placed on them. I'm thankful for my midwife and her assistant helping me through my pregnancy and delivery by giving me my space, letting me do what I wanted to do and not ever giving me unnecessary cause for concern. My mom calls me a "pioneer woman" for doing it so naturally. I realize now that I haven't given myself enough credit, I just had a baby naturally, by myself, and I should be proud of my accomplishment. I pushed through the thoughts of giving up and brought a beautiful, 6 lb. 6 oz. life into the world.
I encourage all of you pregnant women to stay positive at all times by all means because I believe your mind plays more of a role in this process than any part of your body. No matter what a doctor says, believe that you will have the best birthing experience possible and that your baby will be healthy and whole. Speak life over your baby right now and envision your labor and delivery going smoothly. The life inside of you can only be brought into the world by you, so rise up and be proud and excited that you're about to do something extraordinary! It does get scary when you're in it but fight that fear with the reality that you can do it, that you were made to do it! Don't give in to the pain, use it! There is nothing like having a baby. Literally. Nothing! I understand that now and feel like a different person, a stronger, wiser, more fearless woman.