It was somewhere in-between Eden’s birth and Naomi’s birth that I started looking into options other than a hospital. I had been reading more about natural childbirth and reading a lot of birth stories and felt like I wanted an experience that was more natural than just “drug-free.”
Where I live, the closest birth center is an hour away. I knew a few people who had used the birth center and raved about their experience. At the time, I was working full-time and just didn’t want to travel that far and spend more time away from my kids. As it was, my local appointments were after work and they took long enough. So I decided to see the same midwife throughout my pregnancy, rather than random doctors at the practice, and still give birth at the hospital. The midwife I had was awesome. Awesome. I won’t use her name without permission so I’ll just call her Mary. Midwife Mary.
I enjoyed seeing Midwife Mary throughout my pregnancy. She was all about more natural options, even though she still had to stay within the parameters of her practice. I told her she should open her own birth center in our county and that’s when I learned that the most successful birth centers have a supportive hospital to work with, and that our local hospital, would most likely not be so supportive of that.
God’s grace really covered me in the birth experience I wanted because Midwife Mary was not only was on duty the night I delivered, but she stayed past her shift to see me through the entire birth. I did mention how awesome she was, right?
Because I had memories of the speed and intensity of Eden’s birth, I was more worried this time around about having someone get to the kids and have them taken care of so I could focus on the labor part. I know better than to assume this labor would be like that but it did have me a little nervous. Several days before she was born, I ended up in the hospital twice in false labor. And it was so annoying because I know what labor feels like and they were acting like I didn’t. I was miserable for the 48 hours before she was born. Nauseous and tired with constant contractions that didn’t turn into labor. I’d wake up all night contracting, doubled over the side of the bed, wondering if I should call someone and go to the hospital. I constantly thought I was in labor.
That promise I had made to enjoy the last days of my pregnancy was not happening. It was so bad that I was ready to toss natural childbirth out the window and ask for a C-section. I wouldn’t have done it for real, but that’s how I was feeling. I was exhausted and didn’t think I’d have the stamina for labor when it finally came. I could barely eat, drink, or sleep. I learned later that dehydration can trigger contractions and I think that was part of my problem. After two days of misery, I was so anxious for it to be over and wondering if I was in labor, I made an appointment.
The wonderful doctor on duty when I called stripped my membranes (which for the record, was just about more painful than pushing a baby out). While I didn’t want to have it done, she said that most likely, it would trigger labor for me soon. Indeed she was right. I started regular contractions a few hours later. I wanted to make sure the kids were taken care of so I labored longer at the hospital than I wanted to, but at least I was having a baby this time.
We settled into our room and when I found out Midwife Mary was on duty that night I was ecstatic. She and the nurses on duty were so calm and we were having fun during the early labor. They were fine with us walking around and staying out of bed. One of the nurses was studying to be a midwife so it was fun to talk to her.
Jason and I did our thing when it comes to labor. We felt a bit like pros at it by this point. I knew all the comfortable labor positions for me and he knows how to help me get through the contractions. At one point, during a long contraction, I was bent over on the birthing ball, with Jason rubbing my back. When I sat up, the nurses in the room were staring at us and had taken our picture with my phone. When I asked why, they said that we were the perfect example of how labor should look and that it’s not the norm for them. They were so honored to be our nurses and to help us with the birth. That gave me encouragement to have the stamina I needed for the rest of labor.
I had been laboring for a few hours and Midwife Mary said she wanted to break my water. I didn’t want her to for two reasons. One: I wanted it to break naturally as it had with the other kids. Two: I knew labor would get much more intense. And I was prolonging that part. She said I could keep laboring a few hours or we could get things moving faster. Since it had been a long two days, I opted for letting her break it.
And yes, labor picked up instantly and I moved to transition pretty quickly. When she checked me at 8 cm, she discovered the baby was sunny-side up. This isn’t the easiest position for the baby to get the head out and it’s much more painful for the mother. This was one more time I was so thankful Midwife Mary was on duty because she wanted to get the baby to flip naturally. She had me doing some crazy rocking on hands and knees, over top of the hospital bed. It was super uncomfortable during my strongest contractions and in that position, I was having trouble breathing. I kept saying, “I just want to push.” And since I was in transition it sounded all whiny like, “I just want to puuuuuuush.” And I think I probably swore a few times while rocking and trying to just breathe. But she made me keep doing it, and I kept telling her I wanted to push. It was really awkward and she checked me in that position and, low and behold, the baby flipped over and I was ready to push.
I always get a bit anxious before pushing. And then after pushing I wonder why I got so anxious. I’ll have these flashes of the pain that’s coming. And when you’re pushing, it’s so intense that you feel just burning sensations inside. The good thing about that is that you push hard to get through it. After my first push, Midwife Mary said, “Great job.” And she was smiling and looked so relaxed and excited. She said, “I can’t wait to see if this baby is a boy or a girl.” It’s a wonderful thing to remember about a person who helped bring your baby into the world.
I think I pushed for about 10 minutes. And then Naomi Maria was born. It’s the first birth I remember where the baby was put right up on my chest. It was glorious.
One of the amazing things about her birth was the timing of it all. I prayed hard that she would come the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day because my siblings would be in town and they’ve never gotten to meet their nieces or nephews right away. Naomi came two days after Christmas, and 3 days before her due date, the only baby to come early. The day after she was born we were scheduled to have our “family Christmas” and we were able to leave the hospital and go right there. What a wonderful blessing!
Naomi’s birth taught me about endurance. That you never know what you might go through in labor and how long it will be. But your body is made to be strong and do what it takes to birth life. I can’t remember exactly how those days before her birth felt. But when I look at her now, all I can tell myself is how much she was worth it.
Have you experienced days of what felt like labor? Do share!