Our Birth Story...On January 31st, around 6 pm, I was, as usual, in the kitchen preparing dinner, when all of a sudden, out of nowhere, I was hit with a very strong contraction - very different from the Braxton Hicks that I had experienced throughout my pregnancy. At this point, I was four days over-due, and impatiently trying everything that I could think of to induce labour. Coincidentally, minutes before the contraction that started it all, my husband had just pointed out that we were going to have a February baby, as there were only a few hours left in the month. Sure enough, that initial contraction was real, and they increased in intensity with each one. They were about 20 minutes apart in the beginning, and continued this way for a good 3-4 hours. We were sure that we were in for a long night, and my husband was being annoyingly casual about the whole thing. Around 9:30, I decided to hop in the bath, in hopes that it would allow me to feel weightless and relieve some of the pain. Instead, the opposite happened. About a minute after I got into the tub, the contractions became a minute apart, the pain became an 11/10, and I began throwing up in between each contraction. And then suddenly, out of nowhere, I had a strong urge to push. I panicked. At this point, Ryan lifted me out of the tub, got me dressed, and loaded the truck with the hospital bag. It took quite a while to get me to the truck because I only now had seconds between contractions and couldn't find the strength to walk there. I finally made a mad dash to truck in between contractions, and puked into the bucket that was waiting for me. The drive to the hospital was torture, but thankfully, we made it in record time. Ryan pulled into the parking lot of the hospital and parked in front of the emergency room doors (where the truck remained until after the baby was born). At this point I was screaming so loud that friends of ours, who were camped out in the maternity ward after having a baby that morning, later told us that they heard my screams as we entered the hospital parking lot... slightly embarrassing... but seriously, the pain is so unbearable that, at the time, it's hard to believe you're going to make it out alive. Ryan then wheeled me up to my maternity room where we were greeted by a very friendly nurse, whom I dramatically screamed at, "Help me!" Once I was on the hospital bed, the nurse checked my cervix and told me that I was 9 cm and should be ready to push by the time my doctor arrived. The urge to push was unbearable, and something that I hadn't experienced with my first. Ten minutes later, my doctor walked through the doors in his street clothes - cool, calm and collected as he always appears to be. He headed for the sink, washed his hands, checked me again and told me to push. Thank God. I pushed once and my waters broke, spraying my husband, who had a front row seat. I felt the baby move down the canal, and all I remember feeling and saying was, "it burns!" because holy shit, it burns. Good ol' drug-free labour. With the next contraction, I knew I had to give it my all and get this nightmare over with. I graciously accepted a huff of gas which gave me a burst of courage, and with the next contraction, I pushed as hard as I could - pushing through the burn, and the pressure and the pain. Then, out popped the head, followed by the body, and as the baby slipped out, it felt like all of my organs were being sucked out of me - the strangest feeling in the world. And just like that, all of the pain was gone. Doctor B. held up the baby and said, "It's a girl!?" A very confusing statement at the time because we were told with "99%" certainty, via 3-D gender ultrasound, that we were having a boy, but exciting nonetheless. I snuggled my baby girl, skin to skin, who was quick to latch and start nursing almost immediately. We waited until the cord stopped pulsating before it was clamped and cut by my husband. Our baby girl was born January 31st, at 11:32 pm. Just 20 minutes after we arrived at the hospital - January baby after all. An hour after our daughter was born, my step-mom came for a visit. She was so excited, it was adorable, and arrived with a cooler full of goodies - River Wraps, Thai noodle salad, and an entire home made cheesecake with strawberry sauce. I'm so grateful that she did that, as all the hospital had to offer in terms of food at that time was toast and jam. So it was toast and jam or fast-food, neither of which are nutritious or ideal post labour. I ravenously ate two wraps and about a quarter of the cheesecake (which we also shared with our nurse) and slept on and off until morning. That morning, I had the pleasure of introducing our baby girl, whom, after 3 name changes, we called Ruby Florence Daley, to our three year old, Scarlett. It was so incredibly special, and I can't explain why, but I was extremely nervous about the introduction. We only remained in the hospital for another few hours and then were discharged at noon. At that point, I was eager to get home and lay in my own bed which would be big enough for my husband and daughter to cozy up with baby and I. And that's where I'll end the birth story because every day since has blended together into, what feels like, a (exhaustion induced) dream. You still may be wondering why I chose a hospital birth over a home birth, and here is why...
- My husband wasn't on board, and in order to have a home birth, I would need him to be fully invested in the idea. Ryan is the father, husband and also the most amazing birth coach and support imaginable - no need for a doula with this guy. He somehow knows exactly what to say and does not shy away at the sight of blood or verbal abuse (this is most likely because he's a firefighter and trained first-responder). So if I felt, in any way, that he was uncomfortable during the birth, I don't think I would have had the two incredible birth experiences that I did. It was his cool/calm/collected nature that gave me the confidence that I had during labour. And after all, this was his birth experience, too, and I think some women disregard that.
- We love our doctor and he's not permitted to do home births. In the end, it was a pretty easy choice for us - hospital birth with our family doctor whom we have a relationship with, or home birth with a midwife whom we don't have a relationship with. Even though I was leaning toward a home birth initially, I couldn't imagine our doctor not being there. He is someone that I feel completely comfortable with, I trust him wholeheartedly, and he I know he respects my decisions.
- I don't feel like I can completely relax in my home. I realize that it sounds odd, but my home feels a bit like my workplace. I suppose it's because I'm a stay-at-home-mom/ blogger/ beauty-product-maker, and all of those jobs are done in within my home. When I'm here, every time I look around, I see something that needs to be done, or cleaned.... yes, I can't relax in my own home. That being said, after I give birth, I don't want to look around and see a mess that needs to be cleaned, or a toddler that needs tending to. Instead, I want to get away for a little while and escape the responsibility that comes with being in my home. And to be honest, it worked - being at the hospital, all I felt like I had to worry about was baby. I didn't even have to worry about myself because the nurses were so incredible and worried about me for me.
- Labour at home for as long as you can - run a bath, diffuse some calming essential oils, prepare some hospital snacks and food, and tidy so that you have a clean home to come home to.
- Make your wishes and intentions for the birth clear to your doctor and partner - let them know that you would like to labour as long as possible without medical intervention, you don't want drugs offered to you, you'd like to give birth in a position that's comfortable to you, etc.
- Pack a naturally-minded hospital bag.
- Pack your own labour-aid electrolyte drink.
- Delay cord clamping and have skin-to-skin contact with your baby immediately after birth.
- Pack Perineum Tea for postpartum healing and a pair of large "granny style" underwear (to avoid wearing their disposable pair provided by the hospital).
- Have healthy food and snacks ready to go, or have a family member bring some nourishing meals to you after the baby is born (the hunger you feel after natural child birth is insatiable!)
- Bring a pillow, blanket or maybe even a small foamy for you partner to sleep on. The hospital will supply you with some blankets but it's nicer to have your own - something that's familiar.
Photo by: Paige Lorraine Photography