When I was pregnant, one of the most helpful things for me to attempt to mentally prepare for a tiny human exiting my body was to watch birth documentaries (The Business of Being Born, The Science of Babies) and birth stories on YouTube. I've been asked about my natural birth story and have recalled some details to friends, but posting a public account of all the gory details is not what I'm dying to do.
Even right now I'm about to back out of posting this... ha!
But alas, since reading these things really helped me, I'm going to try to tell my tale without hitting TMI code-red. Be forewarned that if you are not currently pregnant or thinking about being, you probably will not care about this post at all.
Okay, disclaimers done!
Wait, I lied.
Obviously, we know that every woman, baby, and birth is different. I had a nearly perfect situation, so I fervently hope that this blog does not discourage ANYONE!
Hospitals and doctors exist because complications often do happen, but I mainly want to post my story as a glimmer of encouragement that many times they do not. I hoped for the best with natural birth, and it worked out. However, I mentally prepared for things to not go according to plan. Babies are unpredictable, and the whole thing is a crazy enough experience without having to grieve some idealistic "birth plan" that was stuck in your head!
Okay, and FINALLY, so that this post isn't nasty to have to read (or write -- yeah, I'm basically a 2nd grader about yucky words), I'm going to use some vague terms and link you to the medical explanations if you really NEED to know the details of what I'm referencing. Cool? Great.
Nearly this time last year, I was about to hit my 9th month of being pregnant. Our bathroom was no where near finished, the nursery was almost done (since I wasn't doing much to it), and I had some down-right perfect baby showers.
The timeline towards Rowan's arrival was starting to roll...
Rowan is head-down and getting ready! Whew! I was so thankful that he was in a good position! I had a really great birth-plan meeting at St. Vincent's which really put me at ease, and they didn't make me feel like a freak for wanting a natural birth - DOUBLE THANKFUL!
They even gave me snacks while I waited. This place knows pregnant women!
Doctor said I'm 1.5 cm dilated, so things are getting REAL... also 75% effaced.
Still 75% effaced... but now up to TWO cm!
10/02/14 - Hit my "due date"
Only slightly more effaced (80%)... but 3 cm!
10/5/14 - I woke up in the night with cramping, but it stopped.
10/6/14 - Same exact thing as the night before.
10/8/14 - Had to get an NST (non-stress test) and an ultrasound to check fluid levels. Everything was fine, except Rowan decided to nap during most of it.
They didn't like that his movement was so low, so the nurse said,
"You are being sent to labor & delivery."
After hours of monitoring, Rowan woke up, and they let me leave.
My hangry, pregnant self killed a Newks pimento cheese and a Dunkin donut,
with no shame!
It's funny that I clearly know now that this is when my early labor started,
but when it was happening, I had no clue.
I woke up 3 different times in the night... First sign of some show.
monitored the big kicks and movements from baby. (usually about 4 big ones in the hour),
then I had to eat a lara bar!
Woke up again at 6 am to mild-medium cramping, and the whole day was filled with about
4 different substantial cramping moments and light back aches.
Movement was still high.
My sciatic nerve was catching a LOT around dinner-time.
I noticed more and more show,
and cramps were off and on, but only about 18-20 minutes apart.
I took a shower,
felt terrible and tried to eat some "last meal" risotto,
then took another shower to get clean hair (priorities) for the imminent hospital day.
At 10:30 pm I finally had to yell out, "OUCH!"
Then I tried to sleep.
At 3 am, I woke up to actual painful cramps.
They still only felt like usual, bad lady-cramps,
but I started monitoring contractions anyway on my iPad app.
I was also having a #2 session on the hour (or so it seemed).
Ew, body, you're crazy.
I hardly slept, but tried to catch 30 minutes or sometimes a full hour between contractions.
At 8 am, Zack called St. Vincent's,
My contractions were an average of 7-9 minutes apart, but some even spaced out more like 12-20 minutes (with just a few closer together like 3-5).
The hospital said to wait until they were more like 5 minutes apart, so we did...
and Zack kept making me find new positions and ways to sit.
Okay okay. Shush, I'm fine.
My music playlist was rolling, and I was in the zone.
Around 10 am, contractions were hitting that 5-7 minute apart mark,
so we decided to wait until I had just finished one to get in the car.
Send out the alert text! Here we go!
I also wanted to put a towel in my seat, because I was scared of my water breaking!
My car was so clean, you guys (priorities)!
We made it to St. Vincent's just as I was starting to have another contraction.
All of the "In Labor" parking was full. PERFECT!
Also, since they were so full in L&D, they sent me to the office upstairs to
I AM IN LABOR, PEOPLE.
THIS IS HAPPENING.
I had to sit in the waiting room (like a gosh-darn MOVIE SCENE)
while I breathed through the contractions and clinched the chair.
Finally I got into a room, and I could hardly push myself up on the table during the contractions, but somehow I did.
A nurse saw me struggling and said, "GIRL. I AM GETTING THE DOCTOR NOW."
Then they confirmed me at 7... SEVEN...cm.
and got my haggard-looking-self a wheel chair!
When the doctor came in to check me after that, the pressure release from my water breaking had caused me to retreat back to 8cm instead of 10,
so they suggested pitocin and an epidural.
I was super delirious at this point, so Zack stepped in and told them I did not want any intervention unless Rowan was in danger. So we kept going.
The most helpful mindset that my labor nurse help repeating was,
"We are just taking this ONE contraction at a time."
She also helped to hold me on the toilet to
"empty your bladder to make more room for baby."
(for some reason this seemed so impossible)
Songs from my birth playlist that stuck in my memory were
Oceans, Beautiful Things & a Band of Horses song,
Zack stood in front of me,
so I could lean forward with all my weight on him...
what a man.
From 2-3pm, my sweet labor nurse started to manually progress me.
This was when I went from breathing through the pain to straight-up
3pm, the nurses were supposed to switch shifts,
but I was so close that my nurse asked to stay through until the end.
It was time to push.
And the doctor arrived!
LIGHTS. Camera. Action!
(No, really, there was actually a ginormous spotlight.)
They yelled out things like, "YOU ARE PRETTY-PUSHING! IT'S TIME TO UGLY-PUSH!"
And she made me hold my breath and count to 10 during pushing.
This got really exhausting, so they gave me an oxygen mask.
whew, so tired, need air!
Zack was helping to do the countdowns with the nurse like a football coach.
He kept yelling in excitement that he could see Rowan's head off and on...
The doctor said she was going to do some local anesthesia
and a 2nd degree incision,
But I was hardly even paying attention to any of that.
Pushing continued until 3:39
Sunday, 10/12/14, we checked out of the hospital,
and Zack drove no faster than 40 mph, even on the expressway.
Our doggies were the sweetest,
and our FAMILY was home.
Now cue up that crazy newborn life...