This post is the second in a series of positive natural birth stories that I will be publishing in the hope that more women will feel empowered to give birth just as nature intended, without intervention or medication.
I was very happy with his birth experience. I had the satisfaction of going into labor without an induction and when I was ready to be done with the pain of labor, my request for drugs was quickly met. My baby was perfect, he was alert and breastfeeding immediately after birth and I was in love with his perfect little face!
So, what changed?
How did I go from a highly medicalized birth to a hospital birth plan for a “natural unmedicated birth” to ultimately delivering Baby Liza in a intervention free birth at home?
It all started with that damn blood pressure cuff I was forced to wear during Henry’s hospital birth. I hated that cuff with a passion. As soon as I found out I was pregnant with #2, my thoughts turned to refusing the blood pressure cuff. It seemed so pointless to wear the cuff at all times, even when my blood pressure wasn’t being taken.
This line of thinking led me to wonder what else hospitals did that was not “necessary”? Google quickly educated me that the answer was p.l.e.n.t.y.
I began obsessively reading birth stories of unmedicated natural childbirths. I fell in love with the idea of letting MY body and MY baby’s needs dictate labor and delivery rather than drugs and hospital policies. It quickly became obvious to me that Liza’s birth was going to be very very different from her brother’s.
If I have faith in my body to grow and nourish my baby, why wouldn’t I have faith in my body to give birth?
Not only did I not want an epidural but I wanted my body and my baby to be in charge of our labor and delivery. After developing a birth plan and teaching Taylor all about the stages of labor and why each bullet of our plan was important to me, I was ready to have my baby in a hospital. My ob/gyn laughed nervously when I told him my plan to arrive at L&D when I was puking, shaking and ready to push.
Yet, every time I envisioned actual labor, I always thought of a quote from a French homebirth advocate…..
“The first intervention is leaving your front door.”
That line floated through my head regularly but I thought there was no way I could have a homebirth in very conservative Mississippi. I was content to dream about the impossibility of it all.
At 35 weeks pregnant, Henry and I were grocery shopping when I ran into a good friend. We chatted for a while and then she asked if I had seen the very pregnant girl walking around Kroger. When I said no, she proceeded to tell me that the girl was in early labor and having a home birth. I literally took off running in search of a huge belly and pregnant waddle.
It didn’t take long to find her and she was happy to answer my questions. Yes, she was having a homebirth. Her midwife lives an hour away. She is great and here is her number! I called Norma that afternoon and set up a meeting at her house for two days later.
Norma was absolutely fantastic and everything I hoped she would be. She answered every one of my questions with the exact answers I needed to hear. When I found myself nodding in agreement as she discussed the miracle of childbirth, I knew she was the medical professional we wanted to attend our daughter’s birth. Taylor and I left her house and he immediately said, “Let’s do it!” I called Norma the next day to let her know we were ready to commit to the homebirth experience.
I was 36 weeks pregnant when we switched care to our midwife. As much as I love and respect my ob/gyn, a midwife’s care is a refreshing alternative. She came to our house for my weekly appointments with each appointment lasting around an hour. In addition to normal prenatal care, we also discussed the stages of labor, nutrition, Liza’s placement in my belly and we aired out my fears and anxieties about natural childbirth.
My pregnancy dragged on 7 days longer than Henry’s but Norma was not concerned a bit about passing my due date. All signs pointed towards a healthy baby and a healthy mama. All we had to do was keep a positive frame of mind and wait:
Friday night I went to bed with inconsistent weak contractions. 9 days past my estimated due date, I hoped my new symptom of an achey back was a good omen of impending labor….
At 2am I woke up with contractions that were very regular but not painful. I got out of bed, sat on my excercise ball and watched a movie as I timed contractions. I was excited to realize they were 30 seconds long and every 2.5 minutes even though they were still very weak.
I called my midwife, Norma, around 2:45 and she said she was leaving her house immediately. This stressed me out for a moment because I worried she would get here too early but she knew exactly what she was doing. She called back about 20 minutes later to check on me and I reported I was losing my mucus plug and having a lot of bloody show. The bloody show really scared me because it was so bright red but I put on a pad and tried not to worry.
Contractions were getting stronger and I found myself drawn to dark corners of our house. I would sway my hips and breathe through each contraction and then walk around our house waiting for the next contraction that would bring our girl closer to my arms.
I loved this stage of labor. I felt in total control of my body and even though the contractions were stronger, I instinctively knew exactly what my body needed at that moment. It was a wonderful feeling to genuinely welcome each contraction.
Soon, I found myself moaning through contractions. After a few of these moaning contractions, I realized that transition was getting closer if my body was making these low tones. Within moments of that thought, I threw up and immediately was thrown into transition. I stripped and got into the pool in our living room. The water level wasn’t high enough and I asked Taylor to fill it it with hot water. He hooked the hose to the sink and started pouring in boiling water from the stove into the tub. He took his duty of the tub caretaker very seriously and followed my command for more hot water.
I felt my body overheating and I started to panic. I wanted the tub to be filled with cold water but I could no longer communicate. I couldn’t breath, my body was tense and I began fighting the contractions.
The logical side of my mind said, “Laura, this is transition, your baby is almost here. You CAN do this. You ARE doing this.”
The emotional side of my brain said, “Laura, you can’t do this. This is awful. You don’t even need this baby to be born. Just stay pregnant.”
My mouth said, “I caaaaannnnn’tttt. This huuuuuuurts.”
My husband said my eyes started rolling back in my head and he thought I was going to pass out. I had totally and utterly given into the pain and desperately needed a doula to get my mind in the proper place!!!! I began feeling pushy and knew Liza was coming soon. I said this and Norma checked me for the first time of my entire pregnancy. She said the head was right there and I should push whenever I was ready. With my first push, I panicked and Norma said I had to get out of the water NOW.
I stood up and immediately felt better with the cool air on my body. The logical side of my brain told me that the water was too hot and it would all be better now. My emotional side was telling me that labor would be even more painful on land. I was quite conflicted!
As soon as we moved to the bed, Henry woke up at his normal time of 6:45. Taylor left the room to tend to him and Norma told me if I couldn’t relax and focus on the contractions she would have to call 911 and transfer me to the hospital. She asked if that was what I wanted and I said no. I looked her in the eyes and asked her to help me focus. We stared at each other and she quizzed me about the events of the morning and asked me questions about my son’s labor and delivery. At that point, I decided to get it together and push this baby out.
Taylor was in the kitchen frantically calling friends to pick up Henry so he wouldn’t miss the birth. Originally, we wanted our son in the room for the birth but my mom hadn’t made it to our house yet and Taylor knew I needed all of his energy and focus to get the baby delivered.
When Taylor came back to our room, I was a different person — focused on the contractions and ready to deliver our baby.
I tried a few different pushing positions on the bed: C position which was absolutely awful, leaning over the back of our high headboard was better but I found myself distracted noticing the dust, hands and knees was better but not still perfect. I really wanted to stand up but I couldn’t get the words out and our bed is so tall that I worried I couldn’t get off the bed safely.
The chosen position was kneeling on the bed with my arms around Taylor’s neck. He maintained eye contact and said encouraging words. As soon as her head was out, I started saying “get her out, get her out, get her out”. It hurt SO FREAKING BAD that I couldn’t control myself and I began pushing when my body was saying “no no, don’t push”. I didn’t care. I just wanted it over.
Exactly 5 hours after labor began, I watched in a mirror on our wall as our daughter’s body plopped onto the bed. My water didn’t break until her body was delivered. I really wanted her to be born en caul and it *almost* happened!
I immediately gushed a massive amount of blood. My mom, an RN, had just made it to our house so she assisted Norma by giving me a shot of pitocin in my arm as Norma checked my vital signs. As soon as Liza latched on my breast and I felt the first cramp, I delivered the placenta and I stopped bleeding in a matter of minutes.
Due to my impatience in pushing, I had two 2nd degree labial tears. Norma did not feel comfortable stitching up the ragged tears so we called the hospital a few hours later and I was thrilled to find our homebirth supportive ob/gyn on call that day. We left Liza with my mom and spent a few hours in L&D for the repair.
Our homebirth was absolutely amazing and everything I hoped it would be — a relaxed, peaceful environment for our little girl’s entrance into this world. Henry joined us on the bed a few hours after the birth and life marched on with our newest family member in my arms. Taylor remarked how natural it felt for her to be born in our house after having been in my belly for the past 40 weeks and I couldn’t agree more!