A Growing Confidence in Natural Birth (part 1)

My first baby came 1 day after his due date. At midnight on his birthday, I started to feel contractions, but it was late and I was tired, so I stayed in bed until 1:00. At that point the contractions and back pain were too intense to stay still. I labored on the ball in our living room for an hour and timed the contractions. They were consistently coming 5-6 minutes apart, but some were shorter than that. I decided that this was most likely the real deal, so at 2:00 I woke my husband up. 

Some contractions were 3 minutes apart, others were 5 minutes. We called my friend who was going to be at the birth as a doula to let her know things were progressing. She got to our house at 5:00 and we left as soon as my husband was able to load the big water tub we had rented in hopes of a water birth. 

When we got to the hospital, around 5:30am I was a 6. We had to labor in triage for an hour while a room was prepared. The contractions were strong and the back labor was intense. I found pressing up against the wall and doing lunges helped the most. My husband and friend would apply back pressure often.

When we finally got to the labor room, around 6:30, the contractions (and really the back labor!) were strong, but I had great relief in between. I labored on the ball a lot and on the bed.

When the tub was filled, I got my bathing suit on and jumped in (not literally :)). It felt so nice and relaxing. During the contractions, the warmth almost totally eliminated the back pain. I focused on relaxing my body during the contractions and my friend was a great encouragement to remind me that as I relaxed, it allowed the contractions to do what they were suppose to. Looking back, I didn’t maintain a relaxing focus though, which only made pain constant. We thought that the back pain meant he was sunnyside, so we tried all sorts of things to get him to move, but the back pain remained.

Around 10:30, the contractions were progressively getting worse and I had my first thought of “I can’t do this.” I knew all during the Bradley birth classes that transition was going to be a very really thing for me. I didn’t want to think about me being in transition, so I didn’t say anything for a while. Finally I came to terms that transition had started and I said “I don’t think I can do this.” All I could think about at that point was that I wanted a c-section. At some point here I staled out for a while. I was in the tub and kept falling asleep. I hadn’t eaten much, because I felt sick. I ate a popsicle and I mentally decided that I couldn’t fall asleep and had to get out of the tub to wake myself up.

The back pain was getting so bad, with no relief between contractions. It was much worse than the contractions themselves. I panicked and anxiously went from one position to the next, but couldn’t find one that helped. I kept getting hot in the tub, but then I’d get out and freeze because I was soaking wet. This caused me to start shaking from the cold (which hurt my back worse). Then I’d have a contraction, get very hot and need the fan on me because I felt like I was going to faint and throw up. This seemed like it would never end.

By this point it was 1:00. I was in the bed, holding myself up and pressing my fists into my back. The nurse came in and checked me and I was a 9 ½. I began to pray that I could start pushing at 1:30. My doctor came in, said I was close and suggested that I get on my side on the bed. He knew that had helped some of his other patients who had bad back labor. After he left I decided I had to do something, because I was just surviving at that point. Moving from one position to another during this phase was horrible. I flipped on my side and immediately my water broke. Since I was having so much pain, I didn’t want to move back into the birth tub, so I just stayed on the bed.

They checked me and I was ready to push. So I was on my side in the bed. Someone was holding my foot in the air. I began to feel the need to push at 1:35 (Thank you Jesus!) and would push to the point of comfort.

It was incredibly empowering to hear the doctor, my husband and friend all say “that was a good push” or “she’s doing such a great job.” I didn’t feel like my pushes were doing anything, and hadn’t reached that confident “I can do this” attitude. I began to yell and my friend reminded me to make low groaning sounds. That helped me focus on something I could do and really tell I was doing something.

The back pain was continuous through all 35 minutes of pushing. My attitude became “I have to do this to have relief for my back.” I pushed maybe too much on a few pushes. My husband was having a hard time watching me (I found out later).

I had a few more pushes, then a last very long, hard push and with that I felt the wonderful feeling of baby coming out and the instant relief on my back. Baby Boy was born at 2:10pm on July 11, 2011.

14 hours total of active labor, 35 minutes of pushing, a couple of tears with 3-4 stitches and a completely unmedicated birth. I was so thankful to God for the end of labor and a newborn baby boy!

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