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I knew I wanted a natural birth about halfway into my pregnancy. When asked, I told people that I would "try" to breastfeed. I went to the library to check out some pregnancy books and the clerk told me about The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. I became completely absorbed after reading the first chapter. After reading it I was certain I needed to have a natural birth. Besides, my mom did it, my grandmas did it, women have been doing it since the beginning of time...how hard could it be? I rented the Business of Being Born and watched it twice. Right after watching that I changed my provider from Dr. P and Central Washington Hospital, to the Midwives at the Childbirth Center. I was so impressed with their model of care. They seemed so knowledgeable and EXCITED for me at the same time! Something my O.B. lacked. I always felt like just another pregnant patient after my O.B. appointments. After meeting with the midwives, I felt beautiful and powerful and that they truly cared about me as a person and my baby. My appointments were a whole hour! How nice it was to just get to sit and have every question answered and to be encouraged!By the time I was 5 months pregnant, I was dead set on a drug free birth and would ABSOLUTELY breastfeed my baby. No doubt about it.
Our little miracle finally arrived on September 13, 2010, 6 days "overdue." Here is my story!
Jake and I had tried everything, EVERYTHING to jump start labor but it just wasn't happening. Being almost a week past my due date I was starting to wonder if this baby was ever going to come out. I needed to take my mind off the suspense so we took a drive up to Leavenworth to walk around, browse the shops, etc. On the way up, the rear passenger tire blew out on the highway! I must have looked hilarious to traffic passing by with my giant belly, heaving myself over the guardrail, but I had seen too many cop shows about rubber-neckers slamming into vehicles sitting on the shoulder! I wasn't taking any chances...
Anyway, the tow truck came and we were rescued by my Dad and stepmom, Karen, who drove us the rest of the way to Leavenworth. I reached into my purse and was surprised to find that my hand lotion had exploded all over my wallet, keys, and cell phone. So that was fun. I started to think, "An exploding tire and exploding lotion...could these be signs? Could I be next?!" The day wore on and no such luck with labor. That night, Jake and I decided to try "the Costco speed bumps." I had heard through a friend of my brother that driving over them had caused her to go into labor. I thought, "Well, why not?" Not like I had anything better to do. So off we went in my rediculously uncomfortable piece of junk sports car, the Cougar. It was actually pretty fun driving in circles around the store and I actually started to feel a little cramping during the process! HOORAY! Or so I thought...The cramps went away soon as we left.
On the way home Jake made a hilarious comment about a crappy dinner I had made a few days back...I think "slop" was the technical term he used...this sent me into a fit of uncontrollable giggles which turned into deep belly laughs, the kind where you start crying...like actually crying. I literally couldn't stop laughing for a good hour! In hindsight it really wasn't even that funny, so I am SURE it was the hormones raging through my body..but voila! I went into labor that night! So now if anyone asks what the trick is to kick-starting labor, (I know, I know...none of the tricks work unless the baby is ready blah blah blah) I tell them: Have a tire blowout, take a bumpy ride, and laugh until your sides split.
The contractions woke me up at 2 a.m. on the dot and started out fairly strong. I stumbled to the bathroom and I "think" I heard my water break but I just couldn't be sure if that was it, or if I had just leaked urine, (a fairly common occurrence at almost 41 weeks). I tried to go lie back down but I was far more comfortable standing and walking around. I let my hubby sleep cause I still wasn't sure if this was the real thing. I timed the contractions for about 2 1/2 hours...they were 4-5 minutes apart and lasted 45 seconds-1 minute. They didn't really feel like I had expected them to. It was more of a dull, heavy pressure, kind of like a bowling ball was sitting on my cervix. Not necessarily sharp pains like I had imagined. I woke Jake up at about 4:30 and whispered "I think we are gonna have a baby today!" I remember his sleepy murmers and then sitting up wide-eyed with a huge smile after he realized what I had said. He wrote down the times of each of my contractions and how long they lasted, made sure the birth bag had all the last minute stuff in it, put the car seat in, all the while helping me to relax and breathe through the surges. Whatta man. ;)
I called the Midwife answer service and told the operator that I was sure I was in labor, and she immediately paged the midwife on call. It happened to be Kristin, a fill-in from Bellingham who I had only seen once, because Laurie (my main midwife) was on vacation. I knew there was a possibility that Laurie would not be delivering my baby, so I was mentally prepared. Laurie is an excellent and skilled midwife, but I considered myself lucky because Kristin was a better match for me personality-wise. So she called me back and had me wait to come to the birthing center until my contractions were less than 4 minutes apart and more than 1 minute long. I did pelvic rotations on my exercise ball (which really didn't feel good at all), had a hot shower, and paced my living room floor. I also sat in my recliner and tried to sleep a little, to no avail. Walking around was the only thing that felt good. Sure enough, by 8am they were about 3 minutes apart and growing quickly in strength. I guess I just didn't feel my Early labor because I was in alot of pain, throwing up, labor breathing, etc right from the start. I called my mom and she got the pleasure of hearing my lovely vomiting noises as I tried to tell her, in broken sentences, that I was indeed going to have the baby that day.
We left for the birthing center at 9:20 am in the rediculously uncomfortable piece of junk Cougar. I will just say it was interesting trying to get in and out of the thing! The bucket seats DID NOT feel good on my pelvis. I remember my legs feeling shaky because I was trying to hold myself up off my pelvis all the way to the Birthing center. Tracy, my dear birth assistant, greeted me and helped me get settled in. Everyone seemed surprised that I was having a daytime labor! i tried to lie on the bed but that seemed to make the contractions 10 times worse, so I continued my pacing. Kristin checked me about 30 minutes later and I was dilated to 6! I laughed because I was so proud that I had done all that at home. She asked if I would like to get in the tub..."UH, YEAH?!" was my gracious response. IMMEDIATELY all that pressure and gravity and pain was just lifted off! What an immense relief. It was almost like having an epidural. (Not that I would know, but I can guess.) I still felt the contractions and it was still pretty painful, but just a different kind of pain. More like tightening and pressure rather than dead weight and sharp cramping. Jake and Tracy fed me ice cubes and put cold wash cloths on my head and helped me to visualize by body being totally open and the baby coming out smoothly and quickly. They really helped me to just relax and trust myself that my body definitely knows what its doing and doesn't need any help! I lied back in the water, closed my eyes, listened to my music, and swayed my hips back and forth and just PRAYED for God to give me peace and comfort. I spend the next few hours in this quiet state of meditation and prayer. I just KNOW that God was there because I felt absolutely no fear. All I felt was excitement and calm at the same time.
Whenever Kristin went to check my blood pressure, the reading was the same or lower than it had been at all my prenatal appointments. (Which is fantastic because one of my biggest worries was being transferred to the hospital for high blood pressure...and after all the research I had done, the hospital was the LAST place I wanted to be. ) Laurie had been keeping a close eye on my moderately high blood pressure through out my pregnancy, and told me there was a real chance of transfer. But by the grace of God my b/p stayed right below the cutoff. Coincidence? No.
So, after about 1 1/2 hours of being in the tub I started feeling the urge to push. Kristin checked me again to make sure I was fully dilated and sure enough..I was ready. She was a dream of a midwife, staying absolutely silent except to sneak in every 20 minutes or so to re-check my b/p and the baby's heartbeat. She just let me go with my own instincts and push when I needed to, and rest when I needed to. A woman giving birth naturally really doesn't need anyone to tell her when to push or when not to! Amazing concept! Between urges I breathed deeply and made every effort to stay calm and collected. I tried different positions...lying back, kneeling, leaning against the tub...I just DID NOT want to get out of the water. And I wasn't made to.
When I felt the baby wiggle his way down through me was my moment when I just let go, gave in, and said to myself, "This baby knows exactly what he is doing and I just need to let him do it, there is nothing stopping him!" About five minutes later he was crowning. I don't remember the exact feeling of it, but Jake told me I screamed bloody murder as the baby's little head came out. (I prefer to call it a guttural groan.) I think all my fears crept up at that moment and I was afraid I was going to rip open...but the screaming wasn't necessarily from the pain. I just did whatever my body and senses told me to do to get the baby out, and out he came at 1:48 p.m.! Its true you just forget all about the pain the minute that perfect little baby is in your arms! And that's what Lucas was...perfect! He was immediately put on my chest, Jake stroked his back, and we told him what a great job he did. All I could do was stare at him! He "pinked up" right away with a little stimulation. We waited until the cord stopped pulsating to have Jake cut it. We weren't about to cut our baby's iron supply short!
We made our way to the bed and just bonded together as a new family of three for a while...then I started feeling more contractions and pushed out the placenta. (No, I did not look at it, keep it, or eat it!) Kristin was a bit concerned that I was losing a lot of blood and mentioned that I might need a little pitocin to slow it down. I was like "sure give me all the drugs you want now that the baby is out!" All was well though, and I didn't need any pitocin. I even came away with from the whole thing with just one "microtear" that didn't need any stitches or special attention. I couldn't believe it... my first baby, no pain medication, 10 pounds 6 ounces, and barely a tear! Clearly I was not the only one in charge of my birth! Granted, I was well prepared and had practiced my breathing, relaxation, and visualization every day...but it was truly by the grace of God that Lucas was born so smoothly and without incident. I think the visualization was the key for me...where your mind goes the body will follow.
Lucas latched on at 35 minutes and nursed beautifully from the start. It wasn't until that moment the the tears just FLOODED. I had had the birth experience that I so desperately desired. My baby knew exactly how to breastfeed. He had received best possible start in life. We were a brand new family of 3. All was (is!) right in the world. Hello oxytocin!
We called all the family members and basked in their excitement and happiness. I was up and around after a couple of hours. My family came to meet Lucas at the center and we were able to take him home within 6 hours of his birth.
I understand that sometimes a natural birth just isn't possible and thank God we have surgeons to do the small percent of c-sections that are truly needed. But I now feel I need to make it my mission to open the eyes of our society to see what birth truly is...not the horror stories on TLC! There is just nothing to be afraid of and every woman deserves this empowering right of passage. So here's to new adventures!