My birth story is not intended to invalidate anyone else’s birth experience. Birth stories of all kinds should be shared, but I believe positive birth stories in particular should be heard. It seems that in the ocean of negative experiences, positive experiences are few and far between. I firmly believe that this is the driving force behind the fear of birth. I hope that in sharing my story, it will give strength and courage to other women to make educated choices for themselves that best suit her and her child. I hope that when women read this, they ask themselves, “Does birth have to be the worst part of pregnancy? Or could it be the best?”
On the morning of May 4th, 2016, I went in for my 39 week check-up. I had no signs of impending labor, and I had not been checked for dilation (by choice) during my pregnancy. Harlow was sitting very low in my pelvis, but this wasn’t much of an indication in my case.
That evening, I began losing my mucus plug. I was excited and texted my midwife the news, but I knew it didn’t mean labor was imminent. My fiance left for class as usual, and wouldn’t return for another three hours.
Shortly after he left, around 5:30 P.M., I laid down to listen to my Hypnobabies track for the day, but was interrupted by my bladder. I headed to the toilet, where I usually sat for long periods of time after using it to wait for the urge to come again. Oh the joys of pregnancy! As I sat, I heard what sounded like a bone popping, and my water broke.
I had preached throughout my pregnancy that I did not want my water to break first and that the “movie labor” was unlikely; only 10% of women’s water breaks before contractions begin. I was extremely nervous that my contractions would start many hours later or not at all, and that I’d need to be induced due to increased risk of infection. Luckily, they started at around 7:00 P.M. very subtly, only 45 minutes after my water broke.
I let my midwife know, but we both anticipated a long labor as a first time mom. I expected her to be born as early as midday on May 5th, but more likely later that evening. I told her I’d keep her updated, and that I had planned on resting and sleeping for my early stage of labor. But, as many of us know, labor is very unlikely to go as planned.
I decided to wait for my fiance to get home to give him the news. While waiting, I had seven bowel movements and contractions were coming about 4 minutes apart. He got home at 8:15 P.M., about an hour after my contractions began. He seemed more nervous than I was! The contractions were already intense at this point but I was not sure how to gauge the pain.
We needed to go to the ATM for the birth assistant fee and the grocery store for snacks and drinks- I would not be receiving an IV. So, we loaded up and went on an hour venture.By this point, my contractions were as close as two minutes so I just leaned on our shopping cart and stopped during them. Surprisingly, I did not draw any attention! My fiance told the woman checking us out that I was in labor and she was shocked! (Later, I told my midwife that we went to the grocery store, and she estimated that I was already 6-7 cm dilated.) When we got home, we prepared everything for the birth center. I could still somewhat talk through my contractions, and they were very short, maybe 30 seconds long. I was told it would be a good idea to leave soon, but I was worried that I’d get there and be disappointed with my progress, since it had only been about three hours since my water broke. We waited for my mom to get off of work, and left for the birth center at 10:40 P.M.
Once we arrived at about 11:00 P.M., I could tell things were progressing very quickly. My midwife checked my vitals and let me be to labor quietly. I walked around the center, and spent a lot of my time on the toilet and on my hands and knees. By midnight, I was ready to get into the birthing tub. I’d become increasingly vocal, breathing the contractions down and out loudly, but not any screaming like you would see in a movie. I had not utilized my Hypnobabies techniques up until this point, but through one contraction I managed to relax my entire body without moving or making any sound. No one knew I had a contraction! But by the next one, I threw that back out the window.
I needed to use the toilet again, so I very reluctantly left the tub. I then had my bloody show and the pressure in my bum was intense. All the while, I felt very euphoric. The physical pain I was feeling was nothing in comparison to the sheer joy and excitement that I felt, and I seriously mean that. Once back in the tub, I vomited (ouch, this was not comfortable for my lady bits, but I could definitely feel major progression from that pressure) and then asked her if I’d know when it was time to push. The next contraction, I held my breath and involuntarily pushed, so she asked to check my dilation for the first time. I was fully dilated! I started laughing and kept asking her if she was sure or if she was joking. I was in complete disbelief. I’d gotten through the most difficult part of labor with a smile on my face, just like I’d dreamed of doing but doubted I would ever accomplish.
From 12:50 A.M. to 1:51 A.M., I pushed. My contractions were only coming once every 8 minutes or so, and I fell asleep between them. Labor is beautiful and amazing, but it is exhausting! Despite how well I’d done before this, I was timid about crowning and all the horror I had been told came with it. If I would have been as calm as before, it may not have taken me an hour to get her out. While having this internal fear, I finally came to terms with the fact that, at this point, she was coming out whether I liked it or not. I loosened up and let go of my fear. Things moved quickly thereafter. Surprisingly, when I tore, I didn’t feel it- I heard it. If you worry about tearing, especially if you’re having a water birth, I can tell you that in my experience, it was the least intense sensation of my entire labor. And besides, the baby will make their grand entrance moments after; it probably won’t be something you can hold onto for very long.
She is here!
If you haven’t had a child yet, no mother can put into words the emotion you feel when you first see your precious gift. This is not only the moment a baby is born, but the moment a mother is born. It is a moment that you will never forget, and this is why I chose to have the birth I wanted- not the birth story everyone painted for me and not the birth I was told I would have. You have a right to decide how you want the day you become a wife to be just as much as you have a right to decide how you want the day you become a mother to be.
What will you decide? Share your story or your birth plan below!