Disclaimer: Intimate details concerning my lady bits lie ahead.
Proceed with caution.
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On Friday, September 2, I posted a lighthearted Facebook status that read,
Genuinely hoping that this baby comes before Monday. I just don't think I can emotionally handle the onslaught of "Labor Day" jokes.
I'm fairly certain it was this status update that sealed my fate because as fortune would have it, three days later, shortly after 1:00am on Labor Day, I woke up to a barely noticeable little gush of fluid and knew instantly that my water had broken. I had just gone to bed around 11:00pm and with Charlie's 24 hour labor in mind, my instant reaction was to go back to sleep and wait for my contractions to begin. A quick call to midwife confirmed this and she encouraged me to get some rest and come in when my contractions were close to 5 minutes apart.
After I padded up and returned to bed, I let Chuck know what was going on and that I was going to try and get some sleep and would keep him posted when I wanted to start getting ready to go. My attempt at sleep lasted all of 30 minutes or so. I applaud any woman who can seriously snooze with the prospect of labor hanging over her head. It was all for the best, though, because it didn't take long at all for my contractions to start and pick up to 5 minutes apart. I went to the bathroom, did my makeup, straightened my hair, and told Chuck we would be leaving for the birth center sooner than we thought. I called the midwife back, told her we were on our way and after stopping for some gas and snacks, we made it to the hospital in record time- checking in around 3:45am.
When we arrived at the hospital, Missy, the midwife I'd spoken to on the phone came and greeted us, checked my cervix and told us we should try to get some rest if we could and if not, they would give me a breast pump to get my contractions kicked up a notch. When she told me I was dilated to 3cm, I steeled myself for what I was sure would be a long road to the final 10. Chuck and I laid down on the queen-sized bed and tried to catch some shut eye. I think Chuck fell asleep for a short cat nap, but just as I thought I might be able to catch some zZ's, my contractions got strong enough that sleep was no longer an option. I got out of bed and started silently pacing around the room hoping that I could labor on quietly and allow Chuck to get a little more rest.
Shortly after, our nurse, Danielle came in to check on me and I was at the point where I was crying because I had somehow forgotten just how freaking badly contractions hurt. Her shift was about to end at 7:00am, but before she left she encouraged us to walk the halls to continue moving my contractions closer together and said that she would be back at 7:00pm that night and was looking forward to meeting our baby.
We did laps around the hospital hallway for about a half hour and by the end my contractions were coming closer and closer together, about 3 minutes apart. We would walk about half a lap and as each contraction would begin, I would grab the railing that ran along the wall and Chuck would push on my lower back, providing counter pressure as I moaned through the increasingly painful back labor.
I was getting to the point where I was in enough pain that I much preferred crying, moaning, and groaning in the privacy of my own room. We retreated to our birthing suite, and I quickly texted my friend who not only was due just 5 days after me and lives 5 doors down, but was in labor at the same birthing center at that very moment. As soon as I sent that text, shit started to get real. I labored on the bed, laying on my side between each contraction and then as I felt the wave starting to come over me, I would hop up on my hands and knees and rock back and forth while Chuck continued to provide counter pressure to my hips and back.
After about an hour or so of this, our new nurse, Megan politely suggested that I could tell her at any point when I wanted her to fill up the birthing tub to which I (stupidly) replied that I was holding out to use the tub as a last resort when I just couldn't handle the pain anymore. She sweetly replied, "Okay..." as a huge contraction hit and I rocked my way through one of the worst ones yet. At its conclusion, I decided, "Well, maybe I'll try the tub after all." Megan responded, "I think that's a good idea." (I think now would be an appropriate time to mention how sweet and wonderful our nurses were. Seriously, they should be first in line at the pearly gates.)
We waited for the water to warm up and I stepped into the tub. The warm water was heavenly and my entire body relaxed and although my contractions continued to pick up in intensity, the water somehow made them more spaced apart so that I was able to have some reprieve from the pain. Once in the water, I immediately began to transition. I went from moaning and groaning and for the most part, owning my contractions, to full-on screaming, crying, and shouting "F**KKKKKKKKK!!!!" at the top of my lungs. You know the stereotypical laboring woman in every single movie? Yeah, that was me. Not peaceful, not ethereal- screaming my head off like a banshee. I knew I wasn't doing myself any favors, but the pain was so overwhelming I couldn't get it under control until my midwife started coaching me to "go low" and replace my high-pitched yells with "Hooooo's". With her help, I got my shit together enough to make it through a few more and then the mother of all contractions hit- I "Hooooo"d at the top of my lungs and then had the overwhelming urge to push. I bore down and could feel Crosby's body stretching me to the point that I thought surely I would split in half. When the contraction ended I did my best to regain my strength and mentally prepare for the next one. For some reason my "pushing" contractions only came about every third contraction so at one point after I'd given a few attempts at getting this baby out, I pathetically cried out "Why do I only want to push sometimes?" This seemed like a logical question to ask at the time and my midwife encouraged me just to trust that my body was in control and knew what it was doing.
Shortly after this question, the midwife mentioned that there was quite a bit of blood in the tub and she wanted to get me out of the water as she wasn't sure of the source of it. A team of nurses helped me to my feet and aided me in stepping out over the rim of the tub. Just as both feet were planted on the bathroom floor, I had the overwhelming urge to push again and four different nurses all helped in supporting me while I bore down. It didn't last long and I was quickly helped to the bed and got up on my hands and knees. Chuck leaned over the bed across from me and held my hands while I pushed through about two more contractions. I felt I was nearing the end and as the next overpowering contraction reared its head, I pushed with every ounce of strength I had and out popped Crosby's head. I pushed through the entirety of the contraction just to get his head out, so by its end, I just didn't have enough "oomph" left to push out the rest of his body. I tightly gripped Chuck's hands and after a few seconds of rest, I said, "Okay, on the count of three." Chuck and I counted together, "1...2...3..." and- NOTHING. I could not mentally will myself to push again. The desire was there, but my body was like "Nuh uh. We're waiting until the next contraction, lady." We both started laughing at the stall and as soon as I felt the next wave start to come on, I gave one last push and Crosby's body slid out the rest of the way.
My nurses helped me flip onto my back and as they handed him over to me, I began hysterically sobbing. Partly because I was so overjoyed to finally meet him, but mostly, the relief at being done with pushing just completely overtook me and I wept like a baby. With Chuck and my nurses' help, my sports bra was removed so Crosby wouldn't catch a chill since it was still wet from the tub. Chuck sat up behind me and I leaned against him and cradled Crosby as the midwife helped me to deliver the placenta. As weird as it sounds, I never got to see my placenta when I birthed Charlie and was super disappointed. This time, I immediately asked Missy if I could see it and she sweetly took the time to show Chuck and I the different sides and asked Chuck if he wanted to touch it. I was honestly surprised that he was so willing. Not that he is squeamish by any means, but he was just as curious about this amazing, life-giving organ as I was and eagerly took Missy up on her offer. His takeaway? It felt like "squishy cabbage." Okay, then. Whatever that means...ha!
Now this is the part where most people wrap up and blow past the gory parts. (I will leave out the disturbing details so as not to traumatize any expectant Mamas who may be reading this, but I'm an open book and would be happy to share the nitty gritty should anyone want to know). It turned out that the reason for the blood in the tub and the reason it took me quite a bit of effort to get Crosby's head out was because his chin had gotten stuck. Because of that, I did require some "repair." My OB was called in because one of my tears was a little atypical and my midwife wanted to make sure that it I was sutured up well. Crosby was handed over to his Daddy while I lay on my back with my legs propped up on the bed, eyes closed, shaking, and held onto my nurse's hand for dear life. I can honestly say, that half hour was by far the worst of the entire experience.
Thankfully, my team of nurses, midwife and OB were all wonderful and I can't say enough good things about each of them. When I was finished being repaired, Chuck and I got to lay in bed together snuggling our sweet baby boy while the nurses left us alone to bond, only intermittently interrupting us to make sure that my uterus was contracting and I wasn't losing any more blood.
I won't pretend to be some Mother Earth, or super human shero, because I'm not. Labor sucked and there are probably a million and one women who could handle it better than I did, but I would still choose natural birth again in an instant. This probably makes zero sense to anyone who just read the above and wonders why any sane person would do that to themselves. But there is something almost otherworldly and spiritual about bringing your baby into the world simply by trusting in your body and its abilities. Not to mention, the feeling of accomplishment afterward is completely incomparable. So yeah, labor hurt like a bitch. But once all was said and done, I couldn't help but remark to Chuck how quickly it all seemed to go.
Crosby was born at 10:12am, just about 9 hours after my water had broken and compared to the 24 hours I labored with Charlie, nine felt like a breeze! Chuck was an absolutely amazing support and knowing what to expect this time around allowed him to be the calm, grounded force I needed. Going through such an intense experience together and then watching him bond with our new little one was almost more than my heart could bear. I am so thankful I was able to have an intervention-free delivery and that I've been blessed to safely delivery two happy, healthy, precious boys into the world. But there's not a doubt in my mind that I was able to do it because I had the most loving, wonderful partner by my side.
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To read Charlie's birth story, go here.
If you'd like to know more about my reasons for choosing natural birth, go here.
As always, if you'd like to know more about my experience with natural birth, please feel free to email me. I'm a weirdo and love talking all things natural birthing, so ask away friends!