I had been considering an unassisted childbirth as an option from the moment I knew I was pregnant. I had known that they were much more peaceful and relaxed due to the privacy and freedom for the mother. I knew this because my mother, (her and my dad have 8 children), had done unassisted with 4 labors herself. The first of hers happened by “accident” (well, she was not intending it, but the Lord was gracious in giving her that experience) and 3 on purpose. I actually did not personally know what those experiences were like though as it was just her and my dad in a room when she labored.
I had contemplated the option of having a midwife since it would be my first birth, but there were none in the area close to me at that time. The closest ones were four hours away and none were willing to travel further than an hour and a half. I had also looked into 2 doctors in the area, one had been willing to be the emergency doctor for another woman who had tried a home-birth (though she did have a midwife), and the other I had heard was accepting of doing things naturally. Though, in the end neither worked, the first was no longer practicing and out of the area for a year, and the other was not willing to be a backup for me if I gave birth at home. So, I decided that regardless I would do an unassisted, since I knew it could be done and was still safe.
My edd (according to the typical 28 day cycle, which I didn’t know at the time shouldn’t have been used for me as I don’t have a “standard” cycle) was January 10th. My husband and I would be welcoming our first baby, a boy, into the outside world around that time! =D Of course we were really excited and naturally nervous. I had done quite a bit of research regarding the birthing process and “thought” I was decently prepared for it.
Unfortunately, though, there was a lot of stress during my pregnancy as my husband and I were just moving into a new place and there had been a lot of family issues on both sides. Needless to say, stress is not a good combination with pregnancy or labor. Still, I believed it to be safer to go alone then have interventional measures taken which I did NOT want.
I had been having Braxton Hicks a frequent amount starting after about 6 months of pregnancy. However, about a week before my son was actually born I thought I was starting the real deal. It was during the night and I began having contractions that were consistent and dealing me a decent amount of pain in my lower abdomen and lower back. (Those contractions were actually more painful than the beginning contractions I had when I went into full labor later). I had them for close to 2 hours and then they subsided until they completely stopped. A few days after I checked my cervix and discovered I had dilated a centimeter, so I guessed that was what had happened when I thought I was going into labor just days prior.
I began growing impatient the week following feeling as though it was taking forever before he was coming! :p (So I marginally understand the frustration of women who go a week or more past their edd). The morning of the 16th I had to get up and get ready to leave. It was Monday and my husband and I had a chiropractor appointment, in a city an hour from where we lived, that day at 11. After the adjustment around noon we went shopping and then headed home. That’s when the beginning contractions started. I hadn’t realized that I was in true labor since they weren’t as strong as the ones I had had a week before. After a few hours and them still continuing I started to believe that it was really happening. So I had my husband call his mother and mine to let them know.
This part of my story is one that I have learned from due to that experience. I had planned on having my mother and mother-in-law there in the house during my labor. For one, because my husband was especially nervous about it just being us two alone with it being our first. Secondly, I felt bad since both mothers had expressed desire in helping me during that time and I did not want to make them feel left out or offend them. Thirdly, even though I had written out my birth plan for them that specified that I wanted to labor most, if not all, on my own, I figured it couldn’t hurt to have some women there who already knew what the experience was like in case I needed help. So, I ignored my gut feeling, because inside I knew that it would stress me out some and I would prefer things more private. The silly thing though is, that during the entire pregnancy I had been searching things up left and right as best as I knew how, yet I had not asked details from either mother about their birth experiences, what it felt like, what they wish they knew, etc. Of course those whole 9 months were quite trying, (I had super bad morning sickness for 5 months) so I guess it just slipped my mind.
When both mothers arrived it was evening, and they encouraged me to sleep. Good advice, but being as excited and nervous as I was I didn’t feel that I could. Only hours later in the night the contractions began hurting quite a lot. I started to feel as though I might cry and moaned quite a bit and rather loudly. My mother hearing me make a lot of noise came in and mentioned that if I was feeling the urge to bear down that I could push and it would maybe help relieve the pain. Unfortunately, I was too ignorant and naive to ask what the urge to bear down should feel like and how to know whether I was experiencing it (my body did sort of feel like it, but it was no where near the same feeling as the fetal ejection reflex) and I began pushing way too early. (My mom had generally had labors less than 12 hours and later realized she had given bad advice). The pain from pushing too early escalated fast and I started to feel as though it was unbearable. Unfortunately, I quickly became scared, which only further complicated the situation and caused the process to slow down.
After half a day, a whole night, and most of the next day of being in labor I was exhausted. I hadn’t slept any and had spent a few hours during the night dancing, walking, and swaying trying to speed up labor. The contractions had been about 4 minutes apart, sometimes less, throughout the night. Through the next day we did not time them much as I was discouraged and we seemed to have lost track of time. (I don’t remember much during that time as I was pretty out of it). I had not eaten anything throughout that time, though it was because I was not hungry and didn’t want to eat anything. So I felt weak and was out of energy. I felt like sobbing, but didn’t have the tears too, I just loudly moaned or cried for help through the contractions as they grew worse. They got bad enough at one point that a couple of times I looked at my husband and through the pain said, “I don’t want to die!” (Bad thing to say to a husband in such a situation, lol). Looking back I realize that I had entered transition by then.
Of course my husband was not prepared to see me in such pain and was quite distressed. He really began to worry and so did my mother-in-law. I remembered at that point that I had read that water might help ease labor pains and so I asked for the bathtub to be filled. (At this point everyone was in the bathroom where I was, and I was in too much pain to care). I got into the bathtub and immediately felt relief. I wanted to stay in there but my husband and mother-in-law had been discussing taking me to a hospital just to make sure that all was alright. (If I had thought about it beforehand I would have had a little birth process & stages manual made up beforehand to give to my mother-in-law since she had only had hospital births, though she wasn’t against my choice, so she would more or less know what to expect and wouldn’t have been so frightened). My mother wasn’t quite sure whether my condition warranted a hospital trip and she thought I might be nearing transition and saw that I was feeling better in the tub. Still, my husband and mother-in-law spoke to me and asked me what I wanted. All I wanted was for my baby to be out! :p I mentioned that I thought maybe we could give it more time just to see, but my mil began bringing up questions about safety for the baby and I, etc. (Not a good thing to bring up to a woman in that stage of labor, haha). So I finally agreed to go and they got me out of the tub, got me a nightgown to put on, a heavy blanket to wrap around me and walked me to the car. I don’t really know how I was able to move that far in the condition I was in. :p My mom remembered to grab my bag containing my birth kit as we headed out the door.
We had 2 options of hospitals to go to, one 20 minutes away and the other 45 minutes away. I chose the latter and we were on our way. My mother-in-law and mother were sitting in the front seat and my husband and I in the back. On the road about 20 minutes out of town I could feel my body pushing my son out slowly on its own. I didn’t have the strength to do anything anymore and just sat in the seat breathing deeply and silently. I felt my son’s head in the birth canal. I looked at my husband and whispered just in time that I needed him to help me into a squat. Right after I got into position my baby boy came out. My husband caught him and my little one gave his first soft cry. =D
My mother-in-law stopped the car, and my mother turned on the light and turned around. We saw that my boy had a nuchal cord so we unwrapped it and he was just fine. He was born at 7:50 p.m. on the 17th of January. When we had unwrapped the cord it had tugged a bit on my placenta, so it quickly came out, but 2 pieces were left inside (they did come out that night & the day after and I was fine). We cut the cord and tied it with a thick piece of string. I covered my sweet baby with the blanket I had around me and began nursing him right away. I mentioned that we could turn around and go back home but my mother-in-law said we were only 5 minutes away and that the doctor and nurses would be waiting for us as she had called them when we left. I had felt a burning and stinging sensation while delivering my son and knew that I had torn, but didn’t know how bad. My mother-in-law and my husband felt it best to go in so that they could check on me and the baby, and get my tear looked at. I didn’t really care to, but didn’t want them to be concerned and also didn’t know how bad I tore.
When we got there I told my husband that I didn’t want our son to be without either him or me. The nurses immediately came out and acted as though it was a huge emergency. They opened my car door and the head nurse grabbed my son from me, I told her I didn’t want her to but she walked off ignoring me leaving the other nurses to get me on a stretcher and wheel me in. My husband seeing the nurse grab the baby went out to tell her not to take him, she said that it was standard procedure, but he told her that she was not to go anywhere with our baby without him. So he went in with her and stayed by our son the whole time. Right after, they took me into the emergency room and cleaned me up. The doctor was on another floor but was on her way. Our mothers were told they would have to stay out in the waiting room.
The nurses began examining my son and started asking me questions. They were surprised that his cord had such a clean cut and was tied well. They asked what we used and I told them a pair of new sharp scissors which I had sterilized as well as the string, they gave me dumbfounded looks and said they were really impressed. They were amazed that he was so warm and rosy already, they asked if I had already breastfed him and I said yes, which also surprised them. They inquired whether I had planned for those things and I told them that I had. I mentioned my birth kit and they all (except the head nurse, who seemed to think I was foolish for trying such a thing) said that I had been much more prepared than they would have expected. One of the nurses mentioned that they were wondering why it was taking longer than expected for us to get there (because we stopped the car after he was born for several minutes) and told us they had the epidural prepared and ready to administer to me for when I arrived. Phew! I was so thankful he was born on the road!
The doctor came in and asked me similar questions, she was not rude about anything and took everything nonchalantly. She then said that I had a tear that would take just a few stitches. (I wish I would have read up more on tears before then and not have gotten them). She gave me a shot to numb and then began to sew, but it was still a bit painful. My son was finished being weighed, measured and dressed and was brought to me. =) He measured 19 inches long and 6 lbs 11 oz. (They didn’t ask about dressing him, but they did ask about giving him a vitamin k shot and the eye goop. We declined both). I asked to see the placenta before they threw it away and the head nurse brought it to me to inspect, she said it looked fine and everything was there. (Shows how much they knew as it wasn’t actually all there).
We were finally ready to leave and the head nurse had to tell me her emergency story of her first birth, where her baby girl had the cord wrapped around her neck in a mess and would have died if she had tried to give birth at home. I just said, “Oh wow, hmm, yeah,” mostly to get her off my back. I wondered what she would have thought if I had mentioned my son’s nuchal cord. :p We finally left the hospital and went home, for some much needed rest and recuperation! After close to 31 hours of labor I was just grateful and happy to look at my perfectly beautiful baby boy in the safety of our own home.
I learned a lot from my son’s birth. One was that I didn’t want to EVER have a hospital birth if I could help it after the hour I spent at one, in this experience. Second was that stress, fear, anxiety, or lack of sleep, food, or energy can greatly impair the birth process. Another was that my body knew and did what it had to to birth my baby regardless of my knowledge or effort, woohoo! Last but definitely not least, that trusting God in any and every situation is a must! (I remembered this one better the 2nd time around). He created our bodies, intricately designed them, to be able to give birth!
I struggled with a lot of guilt after my son’s birth because things didn’t go as planned. I had wanted better for us and thought I had failed him by not standing up for the optimal choices. I had to go through a healing process and I cried a lot, but looking back I’m so thankful that things weren’t any worse than they were and that I had that experience. There may be situations here and there that unfortunately don’t always go as planned, but our Father in heaven gives us the strength for everything we encounter. =D