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My Birth Story

Kevin and I had a cool experience this weekend.  We got to share our birth story with a bunch of pregnant couples.  We took a Bradley birth class, and the awesome instructor, Emily, hosts potluck dinners throughout the year where couples who have taken the class come back and tell their story.  We went to 2 or 3 before we had our baby… it was so surreal to get up and tell ours!  All the timing is a little hazy in my mind, but I had written this when it was fairly fresh in my mind, probably about 2-3 weeks after.  Our doula also took pictures, although in most of them I am exposed in some way, so I will just post a couple here. I didn’t include the trouble we had afterwards… with refusal of certain treatments in the hospital and with breastfeeding.  I will save that for a separate post! Labor and birth truly is crazy, and beautiful.  And yours will be unique, not quite like anyone else’s.  So, here it is.

Two weeks before my due date, Kevin was admitted to the hospital for an emergency appendectomy. Luckily, it was a routine procedure that went without any complications, although the doctor said if they had waited much longer it would have burst.  I think baby knew that we weren’t ready yet, and so stayed in past my due date, which was a good thing because we wanted Kevin healthy and strong before I went into labor!  We decided that my last day of work would be my due date. Boy, do I wish I had stopped before that because June 29th was one of the most awful days I have ever worked.  I was 40 weeks pregnant and working an 8 hour day, and only got to leave to go to the bathroom once.  Can any pregnant mamas out there even imagine that?? Well, when I did go to the bathroom, I noticed something in my underwear but didn’t have much time to think about it, had to run back.  On my drive home, I got thinking that it was probably my mucus plug.  When I got home and described it to Kevin, we got really excited thinking I was going into labor that night.  We hired a fantastic doula, Laura, and called her to let her know.  She broke the news that it didn’t necessarily mean the birth was happening tonight, just that it was happening any time between now and two weeks from now.

We spent the next couple nights having “date nights,” doing things we knew we probably wouldn’t get to do for a while once the baby arrived, because I wasn’t having any more signs of labor. Monday night we went to one of our favorite restaurants, Apperitivo, and had a great meal.  Besides being slightly afraid that my water would break while we were out, I was feeling really good.

Our last "date night" Tuesday before I gave birth

Tuesday evening we went and saw a movie and got some ice cream.  Tuesday night, however, I was up all night with what felt like period cramps.  I got up at least six times during the night to go to the bathroom, because I felt like I would get some relief from emptying my bladder.  When I was in the bathroom in the morning, I heard Kevin wake up and say, “Sarah!?”  I came back to bed and he asked if I was in labor, and I said I think so!  The “cramps” were getting more intense so Kevin downloaded an app that timed contractions and they were happening about five minutes apart.  We thought for sure that the baby was coming that day so he called out of work.

Late morning, the contractions stopped. We had a great day hanging out together.  In hindsight, I wish I had spent the day sleeping, because Wednesday night came and I was up ALL night again, getting up at least once an hour to go to the bathroom because of the crampy feeling I was having.  Thursday morning they were still going, and I had an appointment that morning at the doctor’s.  I went in and explained what had been going on, and said, “so I don’t know what’s happening!”  Barb, the midwife I was seeing said that she thought it was so funny I said I didn’t know what was happening because I was obviously in labor!  I tried to get out of her when she thought I would have the baby, but she said there is really no way to tell.  It may stop again, or it may progress fast and I might have the baby that day.  That day was July 3rd, and our third wedding anniversary.  Kevin and I thought for sure we were going to have an anniversary baby!  We went home and Kevin would talk me through the contractions because they were getting stronger.  They weren’t consistent in terms of how far apart they were, but they didn’t stop like they did the day before.

Kevin was so helpful with the contractions. We really focused on breathing; I would count to four while breathing in, then count to four while breathing out.  When I was exhaling, he would say things like, “Imagine you are blowing the pain and tension out and away from your body,” which was surprisingly helpful.  We checked in with our doula to let her know, and she was at another birth.  Our backup doula was Emily, who taught our Bradley birth class so we were comfortable with having either of them.  I didn’t feel like I needed doula support yet, but we wanted to keep them up to speed. The day went on and the contractions got stronger.

Around 5pm, we called Laura again because I felt like something had changed and we were really going in the direction of having the baby. She suggested that we call the OB office and talk to them.  Barb was on call and rang back a few minutes later.  Kevin answered because I was having a contraction and I was at the point where I couldn’t talk through them.  She asked us how close we were to the hospital, and we were fortunate enough to be only about six minutes away.  Even though we were so close, she said sometimes it is better to go earlier when the contractions are still far enough apart, because when your contractions are coming strong and fast, six minutes may still feel like a long drive (she was right by the way!).

Kevin and I had decided ahead of time that I wanted to labor at home as long as possible, to avoid potential interventions from the hospital, I wasn’t interested in any pain medications, or IV fluids, etc. I still didn’t feel like it was time to go, so we kept on working through the contractions together at home.  Around 9pm, we called Laura to say we were ready for some support.  She was just leaving another birth, and was heading home to get some rest, so Emily came over.  Emily was great, watching me work through the contractions, and giving suggestions.  At this point, I was exhausted from not getting any sleep the past two nights and having contractions all day.  The position that felt best for me was leaning over something.  A contraction would hit and all I would want to do was lean over the counter to work through it.  Emily saw how exhausted I was… my legs were actually shaking.  Her suggestion was that we go up to bed and try to get a little rest.  I didn’t feel like laying down at ALL, but I knew I was bone tired, so agreed to it.

We laid on the bed with Kevin spooning me and I think I fell asleep between contractions, and Kevin was able to get a little rest also. Finally, I couldn’t lay there anymore so we came back downstairs.  Emily suggested we try walking around a little bit.  So, we walked around the table and around the downstairs, but when a contraction would hit I would practically have to run over to lean over something.  Then, Laura came to take over for Emily and I remember her saying, “Sarah, you look beautiful!”  I think I looked at her like she was crazy because I knew my hair was a frizzy mess and I thought I looked completely disheveled.   Emily then said goodbye, and I didn’t know this at the time, but Emily apparently told Laura before she left that I still had “a lot more work to do.”  Because I was so focused on the breathing, they all thought I was still in very early labor. I had the appearance of being super calm and relaxed they all told me, a week or so afterward when we were talking about the birth.

Laura suggested again that we try to go up and lay down again. I reluctantly agreed, thinking that it was getting late and I figured Kevin was pretty exhausted too.  This time, though, I couldn’t just lay there.  I started kicking my legs with each contraction because I just couldn’t keep still.  This is when Laura broke out some of her amazing doula skills and started massaging my feet and legs.  After a while (I pretty much lost track of time), I got an intense feeling like I was going to cry, and the thought in the front and center of my mind was, “I can’t do this!”  At this point I decided to sit up in bed, but I didn’t say “I can’t do this” out loud, because I knew that this was one of the signs of transition, and although it seems silly now, I didn’t want to say it out loud in case I wasn’t actually in transition.  What I did say was, “I feel like I have to poop.”  Laura had me go in the bathroom, but nothing.  I came back out and Laura was giving Kevin (who had just woken up), a look.  Then I said that I thought maybe it was time to go to the hospital.  They agreed.

The ride to the hospital was rough. By the time we arrived, around 3:30 or 4 AM, I was in a different mindset I think.  Laura asked me if I was excited to meet my baby, and I just stared at her blankly.  Kevin handed in my forms and I went to lean over the counter with the garbage can, which was pretty gross, but I really needed to lean, it was the only way I could get through the contractions still.  We made it, slowly, stopping frequently for contractions, to the labor and delivery floor.

Barb was the midwife on call, and she came in the room and asked if she could check how far along I was. In my birth plan, I had that I didn’t want cervical exams because I thought it would make me more anxious.  I agreed to let her perform the exam though because it seemed like a good idea and I wanted to make sure nothing was wrong.  She asked me if I wanted to know how dilated I was, and I said no.  Kevin pulled her aside and said that he wanted to know, and she said to him that I was 10 centimeters!  They were just waiting for my body to tell me to start pushing. I thought that I would want to labor in the tub because it is like nature’s epidural, plus this hospital is open to water births if I wanted to stay in for the birth, but they asked me if I wanted to get in the tub and I had no interest whatsoever.  You really don’t know what it will feel like or what you will want to do until you are in that moment!

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I ended up trying a lot of different positions. Squatting is one of the best positions for labor because it places the baby in proper alignment for birth, and it really helps open everything up.  I was just too worn out to do any positions, like squatting, where you have to support yourself.  I ended up laying on my left side and the nurse was holding my right leg up and bent, as if I was in a squat, but laying.  This is when I was getting the urge to push.  In hearing other birth stories, the urge to push was a relief, because it meant the end was near, and it was better than feeling just the contractions.  To me though, the pushing was awful.  I hated the feeling, and some of the time I would get the urge to push but be so tired that I just couldn’t.  I was so grateful for all the support in the room.  In fact, I needed to look around between pushing to see the familiar and supportive faces, and so Laura got to saying, “We are all here.  You are doing great! We are all right here!”

Finally, I really could not stop it anymore. I kept hearing, “I see hair… I see the head…”  and after about half an hour of good pushing, the baby was out!  Kevin caught the baby, and came over to put the baby on my abdomen, as he said to me, “It’s a GIRL!”  That truly was one of the best moments of my life.  We were so happy and surprised, for some reason everyone thought it was going to be a boy when I was pregnant!

I felt a lot of pain with the final push, and it is because she did a 180 degree turn as she was coming out, somehow, which Barb said she had never seen before! I did have some tearing, and it was painful after the baby was born, but I kept focusing on the tiny baby on my belly as they stitched me up. Then, I delivered the placenta, which was so easy compared to the baby, not a problem at all.  They managed to hide it from me, and all the bleeding afterwards because Laura told them that I get queasy seeing my own blood.  I wish I didn’t, but it’s true… and I’m so glad she told them that so I didn’t have to worry about it.  We had a good first breast feeding experience, then were transferred down to the recovery floor.

The nurses had swaddled her up like a little burrito and she slept, while Kevin and I didn’t sleep, we couldn’t keep her eyes off of her! Baby Caterina was perfectly healthy, weighing in at 7 lbs 8oz, and 18.5 inches long (although when we saw the pediatrician a couple days later, we were told she was 20.5 inches long, so the hospital must have shorted her a little).  We asked to be discharged after 24 hours because everyone was doing great, besides me just being sore, and weak-feeling.

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I still can’t believe how lucky I was, to have my labor and delivery go almost exactly how I wanted it to go. I truly managed to avoid every medical intervention I could have imagined!  I know this is usually not the case, especially with hospital births.  Of course, no matter how she arrived into the world, it would have been miraculous.  We are embracing our new roles as Mom and Dad, and loving every moment of being with her.  Sleep deprivation and all.

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3 comments to My Birth Story

  • What a great story, Sarah! You are amazing and strong! I hope I stay as composed as you did. Thank you for sharing!

  • […] The hospital I delivered in also only allowed for ice chips.  I discussed eating and drinking during labor with my midwives ahead of time, and they told me it is important to eat and drink.  This turned out to be especially true for me, since my contractions started Tuesday night and I delivered my baby on Friday morning.  To read my whole birth story, click here. […]

  • With the second baby, I didn’t push if I wasn’t ready… it was too much work and it SO didn’t feel natural. I wish I hadn’t felt so rushed the first time around, and as a first time mom, I didn’t feel right about not doing what doctors said when they said it. 2nd time around though, I was in control and if I didn’t feel like pushing, I wasn’t. Great job!

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