Our Birth Story – A True Account of a Natural Delivery
You might have noticed that it has been a while since our last post and even before that, the number of posts have been limited. Let’s just say that the ninth month of pregnancy was exactly what everyone said it would be – exhausting. Our little one finally arrived (September 2nd!) and I think exhausting sums up life with a newborn as well. To give you an idea, I have been working on this one post all week! It’s amazing how much time you can spend just staring at your little baby (along with nursing, diaper changing, and all of the “ing’s” that come with having a newborn).
If this is your first time here, we recapped our pregnancy experience with a few tips for the mom-to-be:
One thing that I greatly enjoyed while being pregnant was the number of “birth” or “pregnancy” stories that people shared. Every birth story is unique and getting to listen to others share their experience is a great way to prepare for your own. This is our story.
We did not have a “birth plan” per se. The “plan” was to go to the hospital, hopefully have my OB deliver the baby, decide on pain management when we got there (basically, how much pain could I really handle), and hope for a short and healthy delivery.
Prior to going into labor, I briefly discussed with my doctor the option of delivering Cecilia naturally. By natural, I meant a delivery without an epidural and pain medication. I tend to lean towards things that are more “nature-based” and I have one friend who had her first baby that way. It kind of-maybe sounded like a good idea. Hey, she survived it, right?
When she delivered her second child, she willingly accepted the epidural and when asked, recommended that I do the same.
We were in our eighth month when we started to discuss the option of a natural delivery with our doctor. Having opted out of taking any pregnancy/birth/labor classes, our doctor felt that a natural delivery at this point could be quite difficult for me. I love our OB and truly value her opinion so I went home a little less apprehensive about the epidural.
Let me note here that I have nothing against an epidural or pain medication for that matter. I simply choose to limit my intake of pain meds so that when I am in true pain, the medication will work more efficiently. It also makes it easy to forego strong pain medication when the side effects can be more troublesome than the actual pain. I also hate needles and of all places, in the spine. It sounds dreadful to me. If you have ever read the risks of an epidural, even if slim, it’s enough to scare anyone.
With all of that said, the day of Cecilia’s birth arrived and based on the title of the post I bet you can guess what kind of labor we had. Yep, au naturel.
Now, you may know someone who had a natural delivery whose account is much different from what I have posted below. Since all pregnancies are different, it would seem only natural that all labors are different. However, if you are on the fence about having a natural delivery or are just curious about someone else’s experience with one, below is our experience.
Cecilia is our first child so we were amateurs regarding the whole pregnancy/labor/delivery process. At the start of our 36th week we were told that I was 3 centimeters dilated and 75% effaced. I wasn’t completely sure what that meant, but our OB said that it was her estimation that we would probably go into labor on our own within the next two weeks. I panicked. I thought I had four weeks and I hadn’t even had a baby shower yet.
The nursery was together (mostly), but I hadn’t packed a bag and at that point I hadn’t really even considered a game plan for if I were to go into labor at work (my last day was set for 3 days before our due date). That appointment really encouraged us to start tying up all of the loose ends.
Well, two weeks went by. Then three weeks came and went. Finally, our due date came…and went.
Still no baby.
The day of our due date we decided to go for a walk around the neighborhood. Walking is supposed to be good for going into labor and honestly, we really needed the fresh air. Being that pregnant can make it far too easy to lounge around the house after work. We came home, had dinner, watched a movie, and went to bed.
Around 1:00am I woke up to use the restroom and was hit with a hard contraction. I waited a few minutes and there was another one. We had been asleep for about an hour and a half, so in-between contractions I tried to squeeze in just a few more zzz’s. I knew what was coming. Unfortunately, the contractions were coming too close together to rest. I tried to time it, but the pain kept messing with my count. To make it a little more bearable, I attempted to take a shower. No relief.
At this point, I woke up Mr. P so he could be ready to drive us to the hospital and so he could time the contractions for me. The last thing that we wanted was to get to the hospital and have them tell us to go home…false alarm.
It was now 2:00am and the contractions were about 3 to 4 minutes apart. I couldn’t bear it any longer. We drove to the hospital, which seemed to take forever. How do you hit two red lights and you are the only car on the road?
Upon arrival around 2:30am, the nurses checked me and I was 7 centimeters dilated. There was no stopping now. One of the nurses asked what my plan was for pain management. The pain was terrible, but still manageable at this point. Since I had previously noted to the hospital that I was allergic to Lortab, the pain drip wasn’t even an option. I told the nurse that I would like the epidural.
The nurse kind of made a funny face and quickly let me know that the epidural wasn’t going to be possible. I was too far along and the labor was happening too fast. When you receive this kind of news, you really don’t have an option. You’ve got to accept your lot and pray that it will be swift because you know it won’t be painless.
By 8 centimeters, the pain level was around an 8 out of 10.
When you get to 9 and 10 centimeters dilated, the pain is unbearable. You live through it, but I’m not sure the phrase, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” applies here. It’s more like, “what doesn’t kill you makes you thankful you survived.”
It doesn’t feel “beautiful and flowy” the way some mothers describe it. The contractions are miserable. You feel like you are literally knocking on heaven’s door.
Mr. P was the only one in the delivery room with me (besides the doctor and two nurses) and he was great during the whole thing. The last thing I wanted to do was talk and he handled most of the nurse’s questions. He was also readily on hand as I mumbled one word sentences such as, “Ice” and “Towel”. I really don’t know how I would’ve survived without him.
Switching from accepting the pain of the contractions to actual pushing was a welcomed change. After about a half an hour of pushing, the doctor informed me that the baby wasn’t coming unless I pushed harder. What he didn’t understand was that I wasn’t pushing to get the baby out, I was pushing to get through the current contraction. In between contractions you will get a brief break from the pain. Unfortunately, as soon as you start to enjoy it, the next contraction overtakes you. It’s like being on a painful roller coaster ride and you have no way of getting off until it ends.
It took about an hour and a half of pushing for Cecilia to arrive. I feel confident that I was probably scaring the other women in the maternity ward, although Mr. P swears I wasn’t that loud. My body was shaking from exhaustion. I was crying or at least I felt like I was. Tears weren’t actually coming out, but I could feel my face distorting.
It was the hardest thing that I’ve ever gone through, but she was here and nothing else mattered.
They placed her on my chest for a brief moment and took her to be cleaned up. Her cry was muffled. Something was wrong. The nurse said that she was taking Cecilia to the nursery to finish cleaning her up and try to regulate her breathing.
With only an hour of sleep and laboring for hours, I couldn’t focus. I’m not sure how many minutes passed, but the pediatrician came in and informed us that Cecilia was still struggling to breathe and they were taking her to the NICU at another hospital 45 minutes away. I was ready to rally, fully expecting that they were going to take me with her.
Nope. They were just taking her. I had to stay.
After 40 weeks of pregnancy, 4 1/2 hours of laboring, and months dreaming about meeting my baby, I would be separated from her on her first day in this world. It was a completely helpless and devastating feeling, but I wanted what was best for her and they insisted that this was it.
You cannot plan for everything. Although we didn’t have a set plan, we were not prepared for this. While I think it is every woman’s personal decision where and how they would like to birth their baby, if something goes wrong, time is not being wasted in a hospital setting. It took only seconds for the doctor and nurses to start working on our baby and sometimes every minute counts.
That first day in the hospital was brutal. For the record, recovering from having a baby is brutal, regardless if you go natural or not. I wanted to leave that evening, but my body wouldn’t have it. The doctor said if I felt better, I could be discharged in the morning. Morning came and I did not feel better, but what I did feel was the desire to see our baby. I did the best I could to put on a strong face and with Mr. P’s assistance was able to get discharged.
Cecilia spent 5 days in the NICU. With every passing day, she steadily improved. When we were finally able to take her home, the pediatrician said we should treat her like a normal healthy baby. Our prayers had been answered.
A natural delivery is not for the faint-hearted. When the pain becomes unbearable (because it will), try to remember that this too shall pass (and it does). For those planning on going natural, try to keep your expectations low and strength high. If you are pregnant, keep in mind that you might not have an option. When contractions strike in the wee-hours of the night and the labor is progressing quickly, an epidural might not be available. My advice – get to the hospital FAST.
Either way, going natural is now all I know. Is it better? Is it worse? It is neither. It is what it is and ultimately what is really important is that you and your baby are healthy. Once you get home, your world will never be the same and you will realize that the delivery is just the beginning.