Thoughts on Labor & Delivery
Before getting pregnant, I knew that I wanted as natural a birth as possible. In my ideal world, I wanted a home birth or at least one at a birth center. However, W was not down with that. So we compromised and I went to a midwife practice where I would deliver at a hospital. During the pregnancy, I relaxed a bit in my thinking and decided that I didn't want an epidural, but would not be opposed to one if I got desperate.
My midwife knew my birth plan, and highly recommended that I take a laboring class if I didn't want an epidural. She said I needed to learn how to manage the pain with breathing and other useful techniques. Unfortunately, I kept getting waitlisted to the classes at the hospital and I didn't want to pay for a more expensive class. So I didn't end up going to one. As my due date approached, I began to become increasingly anxious about the laboring and birthing process. So I watched some YouTube videos of techniques, talked to a friend who delivered without an epidural, and watched a documentary about Ina May's midwife practice called The Birth Story. Also, friends told me that I would only not get an epidural if I set my mind to it in advance - that if it was an option I would use it. Great, I thought.
The Day Before
On Friday, October 18 I had an uncharacteristically socially busy day. An appraiser came to the house in the morning, then I had lunch with my mom's friend. In the afternoon I went to a get together with my nursing school classmates. W and I had dinner with friends, and then we went to an event at our church that night. So I pretty much saw almost everyone I know in Denver that day.
Also, I woke up that day and noticed blood in the toilet. I had some bloody discharge throughout the day and some mild pain with contractions. I had a feeling labor was coming!
Laboring at Home
We got home from the church event at 11pm and at 11:30pm I knew I was in labor. I told W to get some sleep and I went downstairs. I was up all night, using an exercise ball, leaning on the counter and trying to sleep between contractions. Also, pretty early on in the night I decided I was going to get an epidural. Ha. It's the first thing I told W when he came down in the morning.
At 7am I called the midwife to check in. She told me that based on how my voice sounded I probably wasn't in active labor and that if I went into the hospital they would check me and send me home. She said I sounded tired and suggested I get some sleep between contractions. I continued laboring and called again at 11am when I felt I couldn't bear it any longer. She said I still sounded normal and to wait. But then I began to have increased fresh blood and felt that my body was starting to push during contractions. We called our friend Elaine who happens to be an OBGYN at the hospital where I was delivering and told her the status. She said to come in and get checked.
At the Hospital
We got to the hospital and I was so scared I would be 2 or 3 cm dilated. I really thought I would be because the midwife said I sounded normal. But I got checked and I was 7-8 cm dilated and my cervix was 90% effaced! I was ecstatic. They sent me up to a room. I went into the hot tub for about 20 minutes. During this time Elaine, my OB friend came and asked if she could come in. I'm normally a super modest person, but that all went out the window and somehow I let her come in to see me in all my glory sitting in the hot tub. The midwife asked if I wanted an epidural and I said yes, but when we told her my original plan of not getting one, she said let's wait and see, that I was really close already. It never came up again and I didn't end up getting one.
I got out of the hot tub and they checked me. I was 9 cm and pretty much 100% effaced. I did some pushing on my knees leaning against the back of the bed. That did it, and I started the real pushing. I pushed in 2 positions, mainly in the traditional position on my back, and some in a squatting position. I pushed for THREE hours. Elaine and Will took turns holding one leg up and the midwife and nurse the other leg. And the baby finally came.
I'm so grateful for my birthing experience. I couldn't have asked for a better one. I got my wish - I didn't get an epidural, I labored at home as long as possible. I had the best experience with my midwife and nurse - they were excellent coaches and I knew exactly how I needed to push, when and for how long. They helped me with breathing as well. And they were super encouraging. Lastly, my friend Elaine was there. Elaine and her husband have been casually marriage mentoring me and W over the last few months. They have 2 adopted daughters. I had thought about asking a friend to be there during labor to help me, but never ended up asking anyone. So it turned out perfectly that she was there. She was really encouraging and there is a new bond between us as she was there during a really vulnerable and important event in our lives. She also ended up helping suture my two tears. Ha. I thought she was just visiting me but she was having a slow night and stayed with me through the whole delivery, even brought us Thai food after.
Also, I feel blessed that I saw everyone the day before. And I got some awesome prayer and words over me for me and for baby that night at the church event.