After finding out I was pregnant and beginning to learn about birth and options, I decided I wanted to attempt a natural birth. I felt very empowered after watching the documentary The Business of Being Born. At this point, it was in theory I wanted a natural birth for all of the wonderful reasons to have one, but in practice I really didn’t have
much confidence I could (or would) do it. I knew I would have to change my fearful attitude and my first step was to stop watching anything on TV about birth!
My second step was to hire a doula/birth coach, and we found Erin. She was an incredible resource throughout my pregnancy as well. She also introduced me to the “Hypnobabies” program which was incredibly helpful to me as I prepared mentally for birthing.
The last few weeks of the pregnancy got pretty tense as we considered recommendations for inducing labor, based on amniotic fluid level that was in the healthy range but at the low end of the range. Ryan and I decided together that we would not induce labor with levels in the healthy range, particularly given the known inaccuracy of those readings by ultrasound. We knew our baby was thriving and healthy. We wanted her and my body to be as ready as possible before trying to force it into labor. We stepped up the natural induction techniques as much as possible, trying spicy foods, talking to Kay about coming out, the Hypnobabies “Come Out Baby” and fear clearing sessions, raspberry leaf, acupressure and more.
On December 22nd, we had a very low fluid reading and we knew this meant we would proceed with the induction. Fortunately my body was much more ready than it was a few weeks prior and on that Monday evening I was at 1cm and 50% effaced. At least we weren’t starting completely from scratch (and I do believe our efforts helped!).
That evening, a foley catheter balloon was inserted into my cervix to assist it opening to 3cm overnight. We were very nervous about how my body might react (or not!) to artificial labor induction. I listened to positive birthing affirmations and Ryan led me through the Hypnobabies “change of plans” script. That was very helpful as I visualized all of my fears and concerns, put them all in boxes and away in a closet marked “later” – then sent it away. I was so appreciative of the friends and family who called to check on me.
By morning, I was at 3cm and 70% effaced. Ryan and I took showers and got some good breakfast. The midwives and nurses were so respectful of our birth plans and no one ever offered me medication that day or even used the “p-word”, but just let us do our work.
About 8:30 a.m. I was started on Pitocin. Again, I tried to relax and keep positive messages in my mind with the birthing day affirmations. I had no choice but to believe that this could still go very well. I couldn’t help but feel robbed of an experience – of going into labor spontaneously, laboring at home, the trip to the hospital… but, we were going to meet Baby Kay and all would be well.
During the morning, I felt very mild contractions, mostly in my back. Ryan, Erin and I watched TV, talked, and laughed. Erin gave me a wonderful foot rub with aromatherapy, and worked some acupressure points to help contractions come. Erin went for some lunch and after that Ryan left for a lunch break as well. During Ryan’s absence, things got more serious. I got on the birth ball and Erin began rubbing my back with a massager.
At this point I looked up at the TV and saw that Home Improvement was on. I said, “I really hate this show!!” and asked the nurse to please turn it off right NOW! It just hit me that I hated that show so we had a good laugh about it. I had an intense longing for Ryan to return, and he did a few minutes later thankfully. I was starting to do some real work. With each contraction, I would try to breathe and relax my body. I did not have a desire to listen to my
hypnosis CD’s but I always had the messages in mind, to relax as much as possible and let my body do the work.
My breathing triggered Erin to aid me with each contraction – she would press on my lower back or squeeze my hips. It felt very good and seemed to contain each contraction so it did not get too far away from me, too far outside of myself. Erin reminded me to take one at a time, and use my breaks to rest and relax, which was really key to my success. For some reason I wanted Ryan to press on my forehead with each contraction too. About 1 or 1:30 p.m., I felt a pop inside, which was a really interesting sensation! My water had broken – great progress!
At about 2:30 p.m. I was at 4-5cm. I felt a little discouraged because I thought I was progressing so well and had done so much work, but that sounded like I was only halfway there!. But my “team” got me focused again. I got back on the birth ball and continued to work. I was leaning over into Ryan’s lap as he sat on the bed. He held me and
pressed on my forehead with each contraction. At one point I got emotional and started talking about our first anniversary and trip. We had just found out we were expecting and had not told anyone yet. Then I asked Ryan “Do you remember that steak I had with the chocolate? That was awesome…I want that right now”. Erin and Ryan started talking about it, but by that time it was making me feel queasy and I quickly insisted that they stop talking about food!
My breathing turned into moaning through each wave. I cannot describe the feeling of the contractions but it certainly wasn’t “p***”. I suppose I would describe it as really intense rhythmic pressure but I really cannot find the words.
Contractions were coming pretty quickly now and I was really feeling like I wanted a break. I was okay with each one but they came so quickly now, I felt like I could barely breathe in between! Then I started wondering aloud how many more of these I was going to have to do. Erin focused me and reminded me that I only have to do this one. Just one at a time. I didn’t realize it at the time but I was entering transition. I wanted a break, I was daydreaming about what an epidural might be like right now, and I might have said something about wanting to go home. I vomited, although I must say that felt pretty awesome. It felt cleansing, and also distracted me momentarily.
I remember clearly when we were returning from the bathroom (a mandated trip which I was not at all happy about!), Erin said “look at what the nurses are doing.” I looked and they were putting out all of the instruments and getting ready for delivery. I gasped and said “Really?” as I looked at this happening in disbelief – I really thought it was going to be a long haul ahead. Erin said to me, “They are getting ready for you to have your baby!” This was an exciting moment. I knew Kay was coming very soon and that I was going to make it through.
At this point I got in bed to take a little “rest.” After a few contractions I started to feel the overwhelming urge to push. This must have been about 4:30 p.m. now. I had to wait for the midwife to check my progress. This was by far the most difficult part of the labor, because I was fighting against what my body needed to do. It did not hurt, it
was just nearly impossible to fight off the pushing. The nurse kept encouraging me to just breathe through it, try not to push. The midwife checked and said I was almost fully dilated but not quite there. Erin told me to visualize my cervix opening up and Kay’s head sliding out easily. Fighting the pushing was so hard – my whole being wanted to push and I couldn’t even fight it entirely. They just kept telling me to wait a little longer. I must have had at least 15 of these contractions, trying not to push.
Once the midwife said to go ahead and push, it felt truly amazing!! I would never use the “p-word” to describe this. Pushing honestly felt GREAT. All that energy had a channel now. I was feeling great and accomplished and thinking about how the baby was almost here. Then my mind turned against me for a moment and it hit me that the pushing stage can last several hours, and that I might not even get the baby out this way. I couldn’t get this thought out of my
mind but again my support team kicked in and kept me focused. Eventually Erin encouraged me to get up and let gravity help, so I stood and leaned over the bed. At this point things get fuzzy but I remember they got a bar so I could squat/sit down. Baby Kay was really on her way now, I started to feel stretching and burning. Now the midwife was down on the floor, but at this point again it was fuzzy. I was excited, elated, scared, everything all at once! I remember saying “She’s coming! She’s coming! What do I do?!” :) I was told to slow down and not push too hard, so she could ease out. Then they decided they really wanted me in the bed. This was a crazy moment… I just kept thinking, she is coming! I can’t move!, but I had to climb into bed. The crowning really burned, but I was just so happy she was almost here that I didn’t care one bit. Another push and suddenly thd midwife had Kay in her hands and I saw her face!! She was born at 5:49 p.m. I’d only had to push for about an hour!
The moment Kay came out was sheer relief. I gasped and couldn’t believe there was our baby!! I knew there was a baby in there, but when I saw her it was still just such an amazing surprise. She was beautiful. They handed Kay to me and I said hi and I think I commented on how she had hair! I remember telling her that she was named after two very
special women (our late mothers). Then I looked over at Ryan who was next to me and saw his face, which was filled with both shock and love! We kissed, and exchanged words that I really don’t remember now, and probably wouldn’t do justice to what we were feeling in that moment. I let Kay near my chest for a while to root around and become familiar.
All I remember now was lots of commotion and that my legs would not stop shaking. I was in such a state of physical and emotional excitement – what a high!! Out of nowhere Kay just latched right on to my breast and it even startled me. She was drinking away! Erin commented on how amazing it is that they know just what to do, and I agreed. It felt incredible. Kay continued to feed for about 15-20 minutes. Ryan went out to tell his parents that Kay had been born, and when he came back he said he had lost it out there with them and they were all crying. I wish I could have seen that moment!
While Ryan’s parents came in to meet the baby, I called my family and tearfully shared the news of her birth. After his parents left, Ryan was sitting on the couch with Kay just holding her tight and looking at her with such amazement and love. He was softly talking to her and called her “Kay bear”, and it has really stuck as our sweet pet name for her.
What follows is a whirlwind of nurses, doctors, instructions and information. We never imagined how many people would be in and out of our room. That night we called or texted a lot of friends and family and just enjoyed this beautiful sleepy little bundle. I was on such a high that I wasn’t even thinking about sleeping or eating nor did I notice any discomfort. I had just given birth to this baby!! After all of the thought, preparation, worrying… I had done it. What else mattered? Eventually I realized my body and muscles were very tired and sore, and that I needed to slow down and rest. We could have been released from the hospital on Christmas Eve but we did not feel ready. We wanted all the help of the nurses and lactation consultants while we had the opportunity.
We brought Kay home on Christmas Day. As we were getting all of our things together and ready to leave the hospital that afternoon, Ryan and I were both emotional. It was sinking in that we were really taking our baby home. We packed up all of our things and got this baby in the car, and just as many friends had told us we would, we felt a sense of disbelief that they were letting us leave with her! It was a very surreal but exciting moment. Let the adventures begin…