Each of the four births I have experienced had an impact on me. All birth impacts women, for better or worse. Birth also impacts daughters and granddaughters. The stories we share about birth matter. If you have had a hard labor or birth experience, it can bring healing to share it with the right people. The birth culture today, however, breeds too much negativity and mistrust about women, their bodies, and their babies. Feeding women's insecurities surrounding their ability to birth is harmful. We need to empower women to trust their intuition, rely on God to help them have the birth experience they desire. One way we can do this is by sharing positive views about birth.
Each of my birth experiences were completely different than the previous one. They definitely did not follow any sort of pattern. I am sharing the births of our children in order. Hopefully you will be able to be able to see the growth.
I would like to start by saying that for prenatal care we chose a midwives and they owned a birth center. It was peaceful, relaxed and I felt informed. I thought I was pregnant but it took a month for my body to give a positive pregnancy test. I think this was a true blessing because Rico would have been born too late to be delivered in the birth center. We attended a birth class that was a mix of home, birth center, and hospital births. This class helped us feel prepared for the stages of labor and also helped me to start finding my voice in regards to my wants and desires for pregnancy and labor.
Jordan had been gone for a few days. The night he got home, I woke up around 1 am for the usual bathroom break and noticed that I was feeling a little crampy. I did not think too much of it, as I had been having random discomfort for a couple of weeks. I then woke up every hour until morning and noticed that the pains weren't going away. It took a lot of will power to not wake Jordan and let him know what was going on, but I decided that if I was in labor, he was going to need his sleep for the next night and if I was not in labor I did not want to get excited over nothing. When we woke up he timed three of them and they were happening about every 8 to 10 minutes.
When I finally got out of bed I took our dog Beatrice for a walk and got ready for the day. I did a little bit of laundry and lounged. To be honest, we didn't really think I was in labor until about 6pm that night--this would have been the perfect time to start my list of early labor projects. That afternoon I laid down to rest and time some more contractions while Jordan went out for an hour to work. The contractions were steady at 8 minutes apart.
A family friend happened to be in town and he offered to take us to dinner. We agreed because I still was not confident this was actual labor. While eating, I was pressing my lower back into my fist against the booth. When I stood up I noticed how uncomfortable I was. We had to stop by Jordan’s co-worker's house to drop something off and while he was inside I had to get out of the truck and stand up because the pain was getting steadily worse.
We made it home and Jordan got a movie going for me. It was at this point that we realized I really was in labor and we thought our little boy was going to be joining us soon. The waves were coming every 6 minutes and the movie was not relaxing. I took a shower hoping that would help my hip pain and it did for a minute.
When my contractions were at about 5 minutes apart, we called the midwife, and she said to call back when they were 2 1/2-3 minutes apart and that we would need to come in then.
About an hour later my contractions were at 4 minutes and were not going anywhere. They stayed that way for another hour and Jordan suggested that if I wanted this baby to come out tonight I was going to have to start moving which was something that we learned in our birth class. So, I started doing side lunges down the hall. SIDE LUNGES DOWN THE HALL. I am not sure why this became my movement. On some level it felt good and on another level it just felt like that was what was needed to move him down. I must point out that because my hips were hurting so badly, Jordan could not do the double hip squeeze or the sacral pushing because it added to the pain I was feeling. (I think my hips hurt so badly because of the hip displasia that I was born with.) During each contraction I would hold onto the wall and he put a heat pack on my lower back. That seemed to help. Finally, after an HOUR of these side lunges, contractions were at 3 minutes. I told him to call our midwife because I was done being at home.
She told us to come in. After a priesthood blessing, and as soon as we were in the truck, I felt much more comfortable using my voice. I realized that moaning was going to be my main pain coping technique. We made it to the midwives quickly and when we walked in I cried. I felt relief and felt we had a little more support. They did check me and I was at 6cm and was totally elated that all this pain was not for nothing. There was one other woman there, and I would hear her randomly throughout the night through her contractions, but for some reason hearing her noises did not scare me like I thought it would.
I got into the tub and tried to find a good position but like I said, I could not put pressure on my back during contractions otherwise it hurt too much and being on all fours pulled my back too much. I lasted for almost an hour in the tub and they had me lie on my side on the bed for about another hour. After each contraction I would pass out for a minute.
I tried the birthing stool and did a few "trial" pushes. I was not quite ready, so back to the bed. Jordan sat there with me and held my hand. Then I needed to throw up. I did and that was probably the best contraction of them all as I did not think about the pain one bit. Jordan held the bowl like a pro and he did not flinch. I did some pushes on the bed and then it was time. Well, we thought it was close to being time because they could see his head in the birth canal. Jordan said he thought once he saw his head and how much I was moving him with each contraction that our baby would be out in about 20 minutes. Well...he was wrong. I forgot that we had learned in our birthing class that during the pushing stage, the baby moves down and then back up a little. This piece of information did not happen during my other three births. Total pushing time was 2 hrs (about 30 minutes when all the breaks are taken out). Everyone in the room fell asleep for a few minutes after each contraction. I did not know my body was able to fall asleep that quickly and then be so alert a few minutes later.
Finally, his head was out and he was blue. During the next push, they pulled him out quickly and got him over to the bed to clear his lungs. His heart was beating but he was not taking any breaths. He was breathing in about a minute and all was well. I felt completely calm. I knew he was fine. Looking back, I would have kept him with me, but I just did not know. I do not feel any animosity or negativity with this moment of his birth.
The placenta delivered quickly. Then I moved to the bed to have a couple of stitches and hold him and I nursed him a little after he slept. His latch was strong. The midwives made us cheesy eggs and toast with their homemade bread which was the best meal every. Then we slept together in bliss. After a long time they came in and weighed him, rubbed in most of the vernix and wiped off the remaining birth bloodiness. They were as gentle as possible and everything happened either on the bed or right next to it. After about five or six hours, we went home. I will discuss my postpartum care in a different post.
Rico’s birth was unexpected in many ways. I did not expect to be a mother so young. I did not know what to expect about my body during birth. I did know that I had created a baby that my body could birth. I knew that with support and a reliance on God he would be born naturally. His birth is indicative of his personality and I wish we could have started our relationship with less pushing from me-in a very literal way. He is fiercely independent and I am still learning to let him take the lead in his life. I still believe his birth was beautiful and when I remember it I feel the sacredness of those moments.