Friday, June 6, 2014

Part 4: Birth Story – Labor

Here we go. Labor. This is what a birth story is about, right? The labor? Or no? Do people want all the pre-labor stuff I shared in Part 1: Birth Story, Part 2: Birth Story - Anxiety and Part 3: Birth Story - Breech Baby ? Who knows… it’s just what felt I had to share to get to this point.

Hannah and Mike about a two hours after she was born. 

After all of the exploration, I was determined to avoid an epidural for a myriad of reasons. Emotionally I prepared myself by reading a pretty extreme view book Hypnobirthing The Mongan Method. For me, the point of reading this book was to expose myself to the options used by people who prepared for a natural medication free birth for months. I needed a frame of reference. I only had three weeks to gear up. 

I was due with baby number three on December 31, 2013. Not exactly the most ideal timing for a baby. I was determined to have the baby between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Logically and fiscally, having the baby in the same year made oodles of sense. From an all-natural approach, this was in direct conflict. Both my doctor and doula shared their concern over my conflicting goals.

Good thing I am damn lucky. I went into labor the evening of December 28th. The full day before I had very scattered strong contractions but nothing regular. Then the afternoon of the 28th, I was pretty sure it was going to get started soon. Ann, my doula, made a personal visit to check in with me. She confirmed she thought we were headed that way but it would still be a while. So I continued about my day. That evening, around 6 o'clock, my contractions started to heat up again but were still not consistent. My mom came over to help Mike with the big kids. Ann and I decided she should come over since it was my third baby and they can come very quickly. My labor remained irregular but quite strong until around 10 pm. Between 10 and 11 pm, I started to become very uncomfortable and contractions became regular but spaced apart more than 5 minutes.

Mike took a nap.

I wanted to hit him. Ann encouraged me that it was good for him to rest so he could be more helpful when I really needed him. He was pretty lucky Ann was there otherwise there certainly would have been NO NAPPING.

Around 11:30 I wasn't so sure I wanted to do a medication free labor anymore. I did my best to focus on breathing, my affirmations and my goals for this baby and this experience. I still was really reconsidering this choice. I wanted to know where my body was at in the process. So Ann agreed to us going to the hospital to get an evaluation of how far dilated I was.

We arrived at the hospital around midnight. Got checked in and they evaluated me at 6 cm dilated. I labored. I begged for an epidural. Ann continued to remind me of my goals. Mike held my hand. I begged again. Ann told me we would talk about it between contractions.

At 2:15 am, I was 7 cm dilated. So the theory was I would be in labor another three hours before pushing would begin. I wasn't willing to labor without an epidural that long. I just was really having trouble managing. So we all discussed (very quickly) the options. I decided with input from the nurse, my doula and support from Mike, to have the doctor break my bag of water.

At  2:50 am, the doctor broke my bag of water. Then the insanity began. And ended in a flash. The baby was born and in hand 14 minutes later at 3:04 am. That was the most intense 14 minutes of my entire life. It all happened so fast. It is completely vivid and surreal at the same time. At one point, I was hugging onto Mike and he was wearing a very large puffy black jacket. I was so hot from the physical work and hormones I screamed at him to get the “damn jacket off” and he promptly removed the coat. Within moments, he was sharing “It’s a GIRL!!” as our baby arrived. It was amazing. It was a miracle. I did it.

The Pride. The Joy. The Love. It was incredible.

Reflecting on the experience has been a journey in itself. I haven’t even touched on the most amazing aspects of a medication free labor which is after the madness is over. When the calm sets in. Our baby girl was alert, engaged and perfect. I was aware, in love and so ready to be present with her.

Here is a super short video of baby Hannah on day one. Amazing. Simply amazing. She was curious from the start. She was calm and had peace. 

The difference between a medication free and epidural experience is completely in contrast. Both are miracles.

People often ask me if I have another baby would I do it again. Yes, in a heartbeat. I would do a medication free birth again. It is intense and a sacrifice in many ways but absolutely rewarding. 

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