The Longest Push of My Life (a natural, hospital birth story)
Being pregnant for my third baby brought about so many emotions. In the beginning I had this strong anxiety that something would go wrong. How on earth was it possible for me to be pregnant again so easily and how would I ever be so lucky to have another healthy baby and pregnancy (sidenote: my pregnancies aren't totally easy)? It all felt too good to be true.
That brings me to my birth...I had already had two beautiful, unmedicated births and I just had this fear that things wouldn't go our way this time. I mean, I KNOW a woman's abilities and I know just how natural childbirth is, but I still never take that for granted. It also didn't help that at our 36 week ultrasound this baby was measuring a lot bigger than our other two. Now don't get me wrong, I know a woman can easily deliver a large baby vaginally, but being my others were smaller and I hadn't delivered a bigger one yet, it did manage to mess with my head a little.
At 39 weeks and 6 days, I laid down for a nap and as I went to get out of bed an hour later, I felt a few large gushes of water come out. I sat there totally confused because leaking a little urine was unfortunately not a foreign thing to me this pregnancy. But this time seemed different since it was SO much. I finally decided after about 20 minutes that maybe I should just call the nurse and see what she thought. Two hours later and the nurse had yet to call back and I was staying relatively dry, so I convinced myself it was just a bladder issue.
After playing outside with my kids and then beginning a lasagna for dinner, I decided to post about my issue in a natural birthing group where to my surprise tons of mamas chimed in to tell me it sounded like my water broke. A few minutes later and the nurse called back and agreed as well. I was a little surprised since my water breaking for my second child was totally different. But nevertheless, I was contracting a little and knew that there was likely no way I really did pee myself that much (even though my husband thought I did). So we finished dinner and slowly packed things up and dropped our kids off. We even stopped for milkshakes on the way to the hospital at 8:30pm (thank God because the labor diet would hit me soon).
We will sum up the first night as this -- the assessment center was packed so overflow sent me to a labor and delivery room. The first test showed it as negative for my water breaking and finally after a more thorough test, they proved it was my water. So we were admitted and set to stay in the labor room until the baby came. Unfortunately the contractions coming in were mild and nothing consistent; so we went to sleep and hoped for the best. Having my water break before labor scared me because I know that it puts a time limit on a birth. Once that water breaks, doctors don't like babies to stay in typically any more than 24-36 hours (so I even fudged the time it broke by an hour or so to give me more time).
At 4:30 am I awoke from my crappy night of sleep to a stronger contraction that made me decide to call my mom and tell her to come up so we could start walking and have a baby. By 7:00 am the on call doctor came to check on me and I was disappointed it wasn't my actual doctor (she wasn't in for my first two births either). While the on call doctor was fine with my natural birth plan, she was intending to do what I feared -- she was putting a time limit on my birth because of the broken water bag and wanted me to either induce or naturally induce with a membrane sweep. I was disappointed and it especially didn't help that I still wasn't progressed past 3cm and I wasn't in "active, painful" labor. She left for me to have some time to think it over when suddenly a few minutes later MY doctor was in for the day and alleluia -- everything was better! My doctor being as fabulous as she is, wanted me to do my thing just as I pleased and encouraged me to pump once an hour to stimulate labor. She'd then come back to check on me after lunch some time.
Don't worry, this story speeds up soon.
By 2:00ish I was still sitting around 3cm but my cervix was looking better. I knew though it wasn't looking good for me because I wasn't in my normal, zombie like labor mode. I was still able to speak, text and even Facebook -- the contractions just weren't that painful yet. I was scared I would soon be induced when my doctor came to check on me. She came and decided to check me for a forebag of waters (basically another bag) and low and behold there was one. She broke the water bag and I kid you not that by 2:30 I was in complete zombie mode. I was finally in REAL, active labor. My goal was to have this baby quickly (I was tired) and before my doctor left for the day. I wanted her to deliver my baby SO badly.
I'm not sure what time it was, but probably two hours later I felt the urge to push and this is where things become SO different than my previous births. In the past my urge to push resulted in me hopping onto the bed and pushing a baby out within minutes. But this time, my urge to push was met with a wall that was only 8cm and not completely thinned. And as it turned out, baby was positioned occiput posterior as I suspected.
I just wanted to push. I just wanted the painful, exhausting contractions to end. With each labor I go through I always tell myself there's no way I can handle it for as long as I did with my first; but I know that's a lie because I'm too damn determined. I pleaded and begged God the whole time for it to be quick. I just wanted to meet my baby and have all of the pains go away.
Every birth I have a weird mantra in my head and for some reason this time I kept singing Nelly Furtado's song "I'm Like a Bird." I'm not totally sure why, but I think in my head I would envision a bird opening it's wings and that symbolizing my cervix opening up and the "fly away" part as birth. I sang these lines through most of my contractions as I walked the halls of the hospital (in my head of course).
My doctor did manage to turn baby the right way (which was a crazy, weird feeling) and along with my awesome nurses, I would get into many odd positions (squatting, squat bar, positioning over the toilet, hands and knees with hip rotations, etc...) to help aid in completion. This whole process lasted probably near an hour -- a very defeating hour that left me hopeless towards the end (all do to a small piece of cervix that was in the way). And before I go on, let me say that stratling the toilet totally helps open you up and encourage that need to push. DO IT - as weird as it is!
I remember as I sat there over the toilet that I started to doubt this would end the way I envisioned. I feared I wouldn't have the strength to push; I feared he would stay stuck in the birth canal. For some reason I also kept misreading my nurse's signals as she was frantically trying to keep a hold of the baby's heartbeat. I assumed on many occasions his heartbeat wasn't doing that great and a few times I feared she couldn't even find it. But I later realized this was never the case and I was just misreading her expressions and determination to keep tabs on his heartbeat (she was actually holding the wireless monitor on me wayyyyyy down there for a long time while I squatted over the toilet, poor thing lol).
As I finally now stood by the bed and was trying to ride out the contractions, I began to push and finally felt what I believed to be a baby coming out of there. They had grab the doctor as she had undressed for a quick second to step out of the door -- poor thing couldn't even suit back up for my birth because I wasn't stopping pushing! I hopped into bed and began pushing for still what felt like an eternity. It took quite a few tries, but finally I could see in the mirror that there was indeed a baby coming out. In fact, his birth was the first one I really witnessed in the mirror.
Part of my birth plan was to pull him out myself, but when the doctor asked me to do so, I just couldn't get myself to do it and in fact I screamed out, "No I just want to push him out." I was just so focused on pushing, that I couldn't get myself to pull him out. His shoulders were a tad harder on me to get out and even I can look back and tell you that I wasn't quite as quiet during this birth - let's just say I truly felt every 8lbs and 10oz of him coming out! The process of pushing him out seemed longer and more intense than my previous two, but no matter what, it's still the best few minutes of my life.
That beautiful baby boy finally laid on my chest. Finally.
He was perfect and he was here. It was over.
My birth plan included a saline lock with no IV, intermittent wireless monitoring, tub access (that I never used), pulling baby out, immediate skin to skin, delayed cord clamp, immediate nursing and delayed bath. My amazing doctor waited what was probably close to five minutes it felt like on the cord clamp - so awesome! My doctor was truly amazing and I'm so glad that she was able to deliver my baby. And if my nurses get a hold of this post, I can't say enough about them. They had so much knowledge and patience with me and my birth. They took the reins and really help me get that baby out. They were amazing and I will say it over and over again, if you have the right doctors and nurses you CAN have a beautiful, natural hospital birth.
I can never say enough about these birth experiences. While people say I am crazy or "amazing" for doing what I do, it's just birth. We are all amazing no matter how we birth our babies; I'm doing it the way that so many have already done before.
It does take a whole lot of determination and perseverance (and even mental preparation) to make it through such a painful, yet glorious process. Feeling every detail, every ache, every burning sensation as that baby comes out is SO worth it. I relive my births all the time and can truly put myself back into that moment. The pain of the contractions fade...you forget about that. It's the pushing and the actual birth part that you can always "feel" and always relive over and over. It's one of the best decisions I've ever made in my life to do this and I will forever cherish these moments and births.
I can't believe I am blessed enough to be the mommy to three beautiful, healthy children. There are days where I don't feel worthy enough and days where I feel like I'm supermom. Adding this sweet baby boy to the mix was the best and sweetest blessing ever (no matter how crazy life is right now). He has completely stolen my heart more than I imagined he could and I look SO forward to the first smile he gives me, the first time he says "mommy" or "I love you," and the first time he brings me a flower. I hope years from now I can share his birth story with him and tell him how that moment he was on my chest crying for the first time, was one of the best moments of my life.