July 12, 2023
First, a disclaimer and brief explanation of my “goals”
Before I begin telling the birth story of my first baby, I want to say that I LOVED consuming positive birth stories while I was pregnant. What I learned through reading and watching positive birth stories and hearing from friends and family is that many births do not go as planned. Unfortunately, I heard more somewhat-negative birth stories from people that I personally know, which led me to seek out more positive stories online. I heard more birth stories that DID NOT go as planned, than I had heard ones that do go as planned.
Needless to say, because I had such a positive, wonderful birth experience, I have been a little hesitant to share for a variety of reasons. Me sharing my positive birth story is in no way intended to shame or undermine women who experienced a far different story than me, or to downgrade the complications and scares that can sometimes come with the wild journey of childbirth. Although I do not wish to influence or sway any pregnant women out there by sharing my story, I think it’s important to share what my goals were for labor and delivery.
I did a lot of research throughout pregnancy that led me to the goal that I believed was BEST for me: an intervention-free, unmedicated birth. I had several reasons for why I determined this would be best for me, but at the same time, my husband and I talked about the importance of staying open-minded to that “plan” changing, because if there is anything that I’ve learned by consuming LOTS of birth stories, it’s that things don’t always go as planned. I tried to stay open-minded to being induced or receiving medication because after all, millions of healthy babies have been delivered from healthy mothers with the power of life-changing interventions and medication that has been proven to be safe. I also thought it was important to stay open-minded because if I were to have a 40-hour labor or major complications that no one can “plan” for, I wanted to commit to the idea that the ONLY thing that truly mattered is that the baby and I were healthy: not a “picture-perfect” birth story.
With that being said, let’s get into it…
I was 41 weeks pregnant on Sunday, April 2nd. My estimated due date was March 27th, and as you can imagine, I had been receiving texts, phone calls, emails, and messages on social media asking, “Is the baby here yet?”, “Any signs of baby coming soon?”, “Are you having contractions yet?!”, “I’d be begging my doctor to induce me if I were you…” for 3-4 weeks. Because my goal was to stay extremely patient and trust my body to do what it is naturally created to do, these mostly well-intentioned check-ins from family and friends definitely became challenging. Nevertheless, I stayed committed to trusting the process and clinging to the confidence that millions of women of walked this road before me.
But at 41 weeks pregnant on Sunday, April 2nd, things finally started to move along. I felt what I thought could be my first contraction in the afternoon, around 2:00 pm while I was relaxing at home. Prior to this, I started losing my mucus plug over the course of a couple of days and I had gastrointestinal discomfort the night before: two signs that gave me confidence that baby would be here SOON.
That first contraction felt like a mild period cramp. I took note of what time it was and what it felt like (literally typed it in my Notes app on my phone). I patiently waited for a couple more to come along, and then I texted my husband Jared right away, who was at work. He was on an afternoon shift that day, so he otherwise wouldn’t be home until 11 pm. I didn’t want to ask him to come home from work before I felt like I really needed him. Fairly quickly, more and more contractions came along, although the timing between them or the length of each one was extremely varied for a few hours. I knew at this point that I was in early labor, so I filled up my Stanley cup with ice water, grabbed some trail mix and some fruit, took a shower, and knew I needed to rest as much as possible.
You may be thinking… “why didn’t you rush to the hospital right away once you were feeling consistent contractions?!”
Well, I knew from the start that I wanted to labor at home for as long as possible. I’m most comfortable in my home, and everything I researched during pregnancy said it’s crucial to relax, hydrate, and eat something during early labor. I also have heard that SO many first-time moms go to the hospital “too early” and sometimes can even get sent home if they aren’t dilated “enough” according to the hospital staff.
I laid down in bed around 5:30 pm to focus on resting and timing my contractions. I tried to watch a movie but instead, I was on my phone updating Jared as well as my friend Christen, who had been a wonderful resource for me throughout pregnancy so far. She is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to pregnancy, motherhood, and wellness and was especially helpful in helping me protect my mindset in the days beyond my estimated due date. Contractions started to become more intense around 6:30 pm so I really focused on breathing throughout each wave that came over my body. At this point, I was noticing a little more “bloody show” excreting my body, as well as a small trickle of fluid when I got out of bed once to go to the bathroom. I now know this was probably the start of my water breaking although I didn’t realize it at the time.
I called Jared to come home from work when I felt like it could be “go time”, which ended up being shortly after 8 pm. I was starting to bleed a bit more and more and while contractions were definitely becoming more and more intense, they still seemed somewhat inconsistent as far as the length and time in between them: sometimes 30 seconds in between and sometimes 7 minutes in between.
I remember feeling the urge to stay on the toilet as much as possible… Every time I would get up, I’d go right back to it. It was the only place I felt somewhat comfortable. I kept an eye on my phone and remember texting Jared, “ETA?” shortly after 9 pm and he said “9:28 pm”. I knew as soon as he walked in the door, we needed to be ready to leave. While pregnant, I asked Jared to help me with the following before we left for the hospital:
He did exactly that when he got home. In between contractions and trips to the bathroom, I would put together a few final things for my hospital bag: my vitamins, a couple of snacks, etc.
Once another contraction hit, I got on my knees and knelt over the bedside to sway my hips and slightly move my body while breathing through it. I called the hospital to update them and let them know we would be coming in soon.
After I told the nurse about the length and timing of my contractions all afternoon and evening, she asked, “Can you talk through your contractions right now?”. I said, “Yes, but I don’t want to”. She started to say, “Okay, you might have a little more time if you want to continue laboring at home for now”. All of a sudden, I felt extremely nauseous and literally threw my phone to Jared so he could talk to the nurse on behalf of me. I ran to the bathroom and threw up.
Side note: I always heard that nausea was common in labor but for some reason, I never thought this would happen to me!
Jared told the nurse that I was throwing up and she advised us to come in right away. Thank God!
I had Jared load my bag into the Yukon and asked him to grab a small trash can and trash bags too, in case I was still nauseous in the car. I was. Once we were on the road, he asked me if I wanted him to drive slower or faster. While still focusing on my breathing and relaxing my body throughout contractions, I told him he was going the perfect pace right now, which was likely just a few miles over the speed limit.
We arrived at the Emergency Room sometime around 10:30 pm and Jared asked if I wanted him to drop me off at the front. I didn’t want to walk in without him, so we parked, he came over to the passenger side of the Yukon to help me get out and walk inside.
This is when it gets really, really real…
In the middle of the parking lot, I felt the urge to stop walking and start pushing. Not that I would ever dream of delivering a baby in the hospital parking lot, but it was an instinctual urge that came over my body that I couldn’t ignore. I told Jared “I feel the urge to push” when we were about 10 steps from the door. CAN YOU IMAGINE what my husband was thinking in that moment?! Haha. Needless to say, he thankfully helped me stay calm, focus on breathing, and take the final steps into the hospital doors to check in.
Jared was talking to the staff for me at this point, as I was fully focused on staying calm and fully focusing on relaxing my body as much as possible throughout every contraction. The staff asked if I wanted a wheelchair. This was another thing I didn’t expect “needing”, but I immediately said yes when I thought about the relief that sitting down would bring me.
They wheeled me up to a room to help me get undressed and check my cervix. The nurse said, “I don’t feel anything…” I think I turned to Jared and said, “What does she mean?!” although I think I knew exactly what she meant. 🙂 She abruptly said, “You’re 10 cm”. I turned to Jared again and said, “Is she serious?!”.
It’s funny looking back because I felt like I needed Jared to translate everything the nurses were saying to me… I was definitely in another world but my husband talking to me made me feel safe. Another nurse checked my cervix to be sure, and she confirmed that I was fully dilated and it really was go time.
Throughout this time, that wild, instinctual uge to push actually went away for a bit. After I told my friend Christen my birth story, she said that urge to push probably went away because my body and mind didn’t feel like my environment was quite safe enough to have the baby yet. I know she was right!
They quickly brought me to a delivery room, hooked me up to fetal monitoring, blood pressure, and IV fluids to prevent dehydration. One of the nurses asked me what my plan was for pain management, and I said, “the goal is unmedicated”. Although contractions were definitely intense and required lots of focus, I remained extremely confident in my body and my goal to do this without any sort of medication or intervention. I heard many stories throughout pregnancy about women typically reaching a point during “transition” (the point where your cervix is dilating from 7-10 cm) and they start to question whether they can do it, they start feeling like they want to give up, and/or they start requesting medication or interventions that maybe were not originally a part of their plan/goal. I am so grateful that was not the case for me.
Looking back, I feel bad for the nurses because I remember tugging at the blood pressure wrap around my arm and the band holding the fetal monitoring around my belly because everything felt SO. TIGHT. AND UNCOMFORTABLE. I may be crazy, but these items actually felt more uncomfortable to me than the actual contractions. Maybe I also felt an instinctual urge to have nothing on me and nothing hooked up to me, especially considering what my goals were: a calm, unmedicated birth.
Because it was “after hours”, the doctor was on call and wasn’t actually at the hospital yet. When the doctors are on call, I guess the nurses do not actually call them to come in until they are 100% positive that baby is about to make their arrival. While the nurses were debating if it was time to call the doctor, the urge to push came over me again throughout a couple of contractions. It actually came to a point where the nurses told me NOT to push, because they could start to see Baby Jobes’ head start to crown when the doctor was still at least 15 minutes away.
There were 3 doctors I met throughout my prenatal visits and while I couldn’t control who would be on call when I spontaneously went into labor, I was secretly hoping it would be with the only female doctor. It was. 🙂
I knew that the staff might ask me if I wanted a mirror so I could see “down there” and I was totally unsure if I would want that or find that motivating or not. When they did ask me, I said, “Sure… I can always ask you to take it away or I can close my eyes if I don’t like it”. Nevertheless, I actually found it extremely motivating and pretty cool that I could see a little bit of baby’s head starting to crown. At this point, I could see that I was opening up (about the size of a cherry) and right away, we noticed lots of HAIR on baby’s head!
Throughout some more contractions and the nurses asking me to hold back the urge to push until the doctor arrived, I started to see more and more of baby’s head, which was the coolest feeling. I truly couldn’t fully control the urge to push, but I remember the nurses saying, “This is good. Your perineum is stretching. This is good. Keep breathing through it”, while the head was slowly going in and out a little bit.
I do not recall this whatsoever, but Jared said that once the doctor finally came into the birth room, a shocked look came over her face when she could see the progress I was making. In other words, she walked in when baby’s head was almost completely stretching my perineum. She threw on her robe, gloves, grabbed a stool, and said”, “Alright, let’s get this baby out”.
After feeling every bit of the “ring of fire”, the process of lots of stretching in order to get baby’s head out, it literally felt like the doctor pulled the rest of the body out within 3 seconds. They promptly showed the baby to us and one of the nurses said, “What is it, Mom?!” and I quickly blurted out, “GIRL” with a huge smile on my face. As they brought her to my chest, I looked over at Jared in amazement at what just happened. We both had a little bit of tears in our eyes and I think we both felt immense gratitude for how smoothly it went. It basically went exactly how we wanted it to, which we know doesn’t happen often. She was HERE! She was healthy, fully alert, and I was too.
The rest is a little bit of a blur and it seems like it absolutely FLEW by. Similar to what it felt like when the rest of the body “slipped out”, the placenta quickly did too. I barely noticed my body birthing the placenta until it was out and that very well could’ve been because I was in such “la la land” looking at my husband and I’s first baby and my new tiny best friend.
Delayed cord clamping was a part of my birth preferences, and while I thought it could be anywhere from 30 seconds to a few minutes for the cord to run completely white (meaning the baby gets all of the blood from the umbilical cord), it seemed like that happened EXTREMELY quickly too. Before I knew it, the doctor said that the cord was white and asked if Dad wanted to cut it. He did, and the next several moments were all about skin-to-skin time and marveling at what had just happened.
I couldn’t believe it went so smoothly. I couldn’t believe I felt so great. I couldn’t believe that it happened so quickly.
Immense gratitude was rushing through my body and mind and I was incredibly thankful to the staff and my husband for helping me bring my baby to me very safely. Quite frankly, I was incredibly thankful to myself, too. I did not take pregnancy or labor lightly and I truly did a lot to prepare for this mentally and physically. In those first moments of her life on the outside, I thought about every bit of research, exercise, preparing healthy foods, etc. that I had focused on for the past 41 weeks and I knew in that moment it was all worth it.
It’s funny… I prepared specific items for my hospital bag that may come in handy throughout labor as well as a full notecard of things I wanted to remind Jared and I to try in case I was in labor for a long time: counter pressure, hot/cold therapy, affirmations, getting in the tub, honey sticks for energy, squeezing a comb during contractions, using a birth ball and/or peanut ball, acupressure, and more. My 10ish hours of labor went so quickly that we didn’t even NEED some of the “tips and tricks” I prepared us for and we literally didn’t even bring our bags into the hospital until the next day.
It’s better to be overprepared than underprepared, right?! 🙂
If you made it to the end of this blog post, I cannot thank you enough. I know it was a long one, but like I mentioned at the beginning, I believe that we need MORE positive birth stories. We need MORE women inspiring other women instead of scaring them. We need MORE trust in our bodies to do exactly what they were designed to do.
The next blog post will contain the details of how I prepared my body and mind for an unmedicated birth. However, if you’re reading this and you choose to have a medicated birth or you have goals entirely different from mine, I hope that this post and the next one still helps you, too.
Remember that all that truly matters at the end of the day is that the mom and the baby are healthy. Labor can be wildly unpredictable but no matter what, bringing a baby into the world is such an incredible, memorable, and beautiful feat… no matter how it happens.
Thank you for reading and for loving on my baby girl. Stay tuned for the next one!