Let this be a warning to you…
This could be a messy post. If you are at all squeamish about birth, either suck it up or please don’t read further. After attending 24 hours of birth classes, reading 10 baby and birthing books, watching at least 5 documentaries and 25 birthing videos, attending over 20 doctors and midwives appointments and having endless discussions with other moms, I no longer have that filter that tells you when details about this subject are “too much”. The following is our daughter’s positive birth story in fine detail. One that went as planned!
I wanted to have a natural birth. One without medications and interventions. I knew this would be a controversial subject, so I tried to keep my intentions to myself. Hearing comments like, “Good luck with that!” is not helpful when you are approaching something so challenging, painful and accomplished by so few of your peers. In the Greater Cincinnati area, I have been told that only 3% of births are natural and that some labor and delivery nurses may never witness one in their entire career. I had never been in labor before, so, what did I know, anyway? I knew it would be difficult, but could I do it? One thing I do know about myself though, is that I’m stubborn. So, maybe the challenging comments actually helped put me in the mind frame that I would not give up. I’d show them.
Even so, I would need some help. Dusty and I enrolled in Hypnobirthing classes where we learned the power of hypnotherapy and relaxing the body. Letting the body do it’s thing rather than fighting the pain. We also enlisted the help of a doula, who would help with anything we might need from labor positioning advice, helping Dusty apply counter-pressure to alleviate pain and setting a calming mood in the delivery room. We were going to give this everything we had.
It Begins: Sunday, January 6, 2013 (one week before my due date)
7 or 8 a.m.: Contractions! I mean surges. In Hypnobirthing, we call them surges. My surges began while I was sleeping so I’m not sure exactly what time they started. I was able to sleep through them, though. Or maybe around them as I was still aware they were happening. They weren’t painful but I could tell something was going on in there.
10 a.m.: I finally woke up and checked the time. Dusty was late for his waterpolo practice which started at 10. He jumped out of bed and grabbed his suit. I casually mentioned that I had had some surges, but they were mild and he should still go to practice. Who knew how long this would take. He went to practice but called to check in and made sure to find an area by the pool where he could leave his cell phone to still get service.
Dusty: My teammates at practice got a kick out of this, as some of us newbies know nothing about delivering a baby and assume the urgency of it. eg: How’s Wendy doing? Great, she’s in labor. What?!!. Why are you here? Oh, it just started..
Noon: Dusty called after practice to see how I was doing. I was fine, the surges were still coming but erratically. I’d have one and then 20 minutes would go by, then 7, and then I’d kinda sorta have one, but was it long enough to count??? They were all over the place, so, I stopped timing them. Dusty came home from practice around 12:30. Just as I had stopped timing, I noticed my surges started to come more regularly, around every 15 minutes. We had lunch and hung around the house for a few hours monitoring my progress.
Around 3:30 p.m.: We realized this really was labor, but it could be a long while before we needed to head to the hospital. So, we walked the few blocks down to Starbucks and enjoyed some coffee and tea while we read and enjoyed each other’s company. At one point I remember Dusty saying, “What should we have for dinner?” I replied, “It’s only 4:40, not time for dinner yet.” Meanwhile, I had been tracking my surges and they were coming more quickly at about 4-5 minutes apart now. At about 5 p.m. I suggested that we should probably go home. I had a feeling dinner was going to be out of the question. I was right.
5:30 p.m.: Upon arriving home from Starbucks, we decided it was time to call our doula, Molly, and ask her to come over. She said she’d be over in a half hour. We also called our midwife, Nancy, to let her know what was happening. She told us that we probably still had a lot of time so to relax and call her when we thought we’d like to come to the hospital. With nothing else to do but wait, we decided to pack our bags. I told Dusty I thought he better take the bags down to the car just in case. He responded with, “Really? I think we have time.”, but he did so anyway. Once that was taken care of, we chilled out on the couch and put on a movie.
6:00 p.m: Molly arrived as we were in the middle of our movie, me on an exercise ball breathing through my surges. While I had been practicing Hypnobirthing techniques for hours through every surge, at this point it was really becoming important and helpful. The surges were SERIOUS NOW. The relaxation techniques helped me to let the surges happen, rather than fight them. This is incredibly important for anyone in labor, but I think especially for a former gymnast, trained for 16 years to squeeze every muscle in her body.
Even though I was feeling less and less like chatting, I tried to make sure Molly was comfortable and to keep up a friendly conversation. She was a guest, after all! Truth was, it was getting harder and harder to pay attention to anything. I remember Molly saying how exciting it was that we’d have our baby in 12-24 hours. I remember thinking, “OMG. There’s no way I can do this for 12 more hours, much less 24.” Luckily, I didn’t have to.
6:30 p.m.: Finally, I could no longer carry on conversation and pretend that I could “chill” at home. I told Dusty and Molly that it was time to go to the hospital. I think they were surprised, but followed my lead. My surges were about 2-3 minutes apart now. We packed up any remaining items and headed down to our car, stopping several times as the surges continued.
7:00 p.m.: In the car, I sat in the front seat as the surges continued and grew in intensity. I told Dusty we would only be having one child. :) On the way, Dusty called to let Nancy know we were on our way. Nancy later told me she was surprised since it had only been an hour or so since I had called her previously.
Dusty: She seemed to be in some pain now as having conversations were getting difficult. She was either in the middle of a contraction trying to calm herself or was in some other place.
7:30 p.m.: Arriving at the hospital, Dusty pulled up to the drop off area at the front door. We entered and made our way to the labor and delivery area, leaving our car parked at the front entrance. I had to stop 4 times on the way, leaning on whatever ledges I could find. Finally, we made it to triage where I had two more surges while leaning on the nurses desk. The nurses saw me and asked, “Hi! Can we help you?” Dusty answered, “Um, yes, my wife is in labor.” One answered with, “Oh! You think so?” in a chipper voice. I thought, “Are you freaking serious?” I thought the fact that I was moaning and practically laying on her desk made that obvious. Another nurse asked if I’d like to come take a seat around the corner so I could answer some questions. I looked at her with what I think was an you-must-be-out-of-your-mind look and told her, “NO!”. Dusty answered the questions for me.
Dusty: We received a surprisingly condescending attitude when getting to the front desk. The answer was more like, “Oh you think she’s in labor? Ok, well, we will check her out and see.” I’m assuming they get a bunch of people coming in there screaming bloody murder, only to get sent home, so I tried not to take offense. But, I knew that we were exactly where we should be.
7:45 p.m.: One of the nurses asked me to go around the corner through the double doors and they’d check me and my baby. As I turned the corner, there were no double doors. This was infuriating! I was out of my mind and could not take any more confusion. I whined, “Uhhh! Where!?!?” Dusty assured me it was the correct door (even though it was a single) and guided me through. :) Next, a nurse checked me and my baby on a heart monitor, making sure to wait for my surges to subside before moving me or asking me anything. They were coming pretty fast now.
8:00 p.m.: Finally, Nancy came in to see me and check how far along I was. Moment of truth. I knew I’d freak out if it was a low number. I couldn’t take this intensity much longer. She was surprised and I was relieved to find I was already 8cm dilated! Oh thank the Lord! At this point I was also encouraged by the fact that Nancy was set on following our birth plan. She told me that even though I had requested a tub for our labor room, I probably wouldn’t have time for it to be set up. “This baby is coming soon! We need to get her in a room right now!”, she said. I was immediately wheeled to our delivery room.
Dusty: See what I’m saying! 8cm. Take that front desk!
8:15 p.m.: In the delivery room, I sat on an exercise ball and leaned over on to the bed. I think I was there about 15 minutes when suddenly I HAD to push. I told the nurse, who then relayed on a phone, presumably to Nancy, “She thinks she needs to push.” What’s with all of this “thinking” nonsense?!? I knew I had to push! You know how I knew? Because it was already happening. Right there on the exercise ball I started pushing. My body took over, I had no control over it. I scrambled up onto the bed where my body continued doing what it was meant to do. Push a baby out. Nancy entered the room, sat on the end of my bed and checked me once again. She told me my water bag was bulging and most likely it would break during the next surge. She left to go deliver another baby.
The next surge came and once again I was pushing. Suddenly, my water broke…
and sprayed 10 feet across the room.
I’m not talking a little mist. I literally hit a cart that was on the other side of the room. It was like something out of Ghostbusters. Had Nancy been sitting there, she would have been slimed! I was mortified and apologized over and over again, which is totally irrational. How could I have controlled it? Molly and Dusty were champs and reassured me that what had just happened was “totally awesome”! They were so nice. :)
Dusty: I can’t emphasize enough that she is not kidding. It was like a fire hose of slime shooting across the room. Pretty spectacular, actually. In Hypnobirthing class we learned that different personalities can come out during the delivery. Your wife may say things that are out of character and that we shouldn’t take offense. It was true! But, in Wendy’s case she was extremely apologetic and polite! It was quite funny that she kept apologizing for making such a mess!
Once my water broke, it was baby time! Slowly but surely, our baby made her way down. I was getting discouraged because I couldn’t feel her in the birth canal, only that my body was still pushing. Molly brought over a giant mirror so I could see her head beginning to emerge. They asked if I could see her and I yelled, “I don’t see herrrrrr! All I see is a giant vagina!” This got giggles from everyone in the room. :)
Dusty: Wendy: Where is she? I can’t see her! Midwife: She’s right there, her head is sticking out. Wendy (screaming): Where? I can’t see. All I see is a giant vagina! All of us: smiling and trying not to laugh.. :)
Carson Is Born
I felt the “ring of fire” as her head emerged. Dusty was prepped with surgical gloves on so he could catch her. He was able to hold her head but then Nancy jumped in and helped grab her. Finally, our baby Carson was born! She immediately put her on my chest and instantly, I was living the best moment of my life! I was shocked and relieved, happy the intensity was over, happy a life was beginning, happy to see our baby and generally overwhelmed by the events of the past 5 hours. I immediately started crying.
Dusty: First of all, I’d like to say that holding my baby’s head, while it was sticking out of my wife’s body was crazy. In retrospect, it was the most unusual thing I’ve ever done, but also something that just felt natural for some reason. I guess I already loved that little head in my hands.
Now, about the delivery. She only remembers bits and pieces of this part, but it was actually quite intense. I am extremely proud of Wendy and astonished at how she did this. During this phase the surges (contractions) were quite powerful and they were coming in right on top of each other. She would push and scream loudly during the surges and then immediately go into a deep trance between them. It reminded me of dude movies where some really tough guy is getting tortured and he’s able to take the pain by completely blocking it out. I was impressed. No way I would have been able to do that. Simply amazing.
A few times we noticed her clenching up between and during surges. At these moments she looked to be in serious pain and was pushing too hard. But, Wendy responded well to feedback and was able to shift her mindset back into a (relatively) more relaxed state. During these shifts it appeared as though the pain subdued and the delivery moved forward more naturally. Hypno-birthing taught us that the mind has to simply let go and let the body do its job. The anxiety and fear and the body’s response to that is what delays many deliveries (and makes it more painful). Its like an animal that feels in danger during delivery. It won’t continue to deliver, instead, it will stop and run to safety before it can continue. I could see that hands-on from my point of view. The more relaxed and focused she became, the more naturally the delivery proceeded. That and counter-pressure on her back. :)
Wendy was and is a Rock Star!
9:22 p.m.: Carson Leigh Doris was born 6 pounds, 9.8 ounces and 20 inches long. She was immediately put on my chest so she could do the “breast crawl”. For 30 minutes we watched as she was able to find her way all by herself to my breast to feed for the first time. What an amazing feat! I knew she was special. :) Meanwhile, as I was busy with my newborn, Nancy tended to my lower region. I had a second degree tear and was losing a bit of blood. I was very impressed with our nurse because she asked my permission for almost every procedure. However, because I was losing blood, she headed toward my IV to give me a dose of Pitocin to slow the flow. I stopped her immediately. I wasn’t about to have accomplished this entire process without any drugs only to get doped up now. Nancy agreed that we could wait a bit longer to see if it slowed. It did, thankfully!
Dusty: The breast crawl was amazing. How could this tiny little thing know just what to do. But she did! She actually moved her body around and found the breast and latched on and started drinking. Something she’d never done before. It was unreal. I was so overwhelmed with joy to see this whole thing unfold.
After the breast crawl, Wendy started shivering uncontrollably as did Carson. They put Carson in the incubator to warm her up and put at blanket on Wendy. I guess she was losing a decent amount of blood. It wasn’t until this point that I started to feel nervous. I had to sit down for a few minutes and stop myself from fainting from a panic attack. Luckily they both started feeling better pretty quickly and I was able to regroup. Wow! I was exhausted, even if only doing maybe 1% of the work!
At last, relief! Nine months of anxiety about this moment came to an end. Carson’s birth had gone as planned. I feel really lucky about that as I know that it’s fairly unusual.
I want to thank Sharon Said for teaching a fantastic Hypnobirthing class. We looked forward to attending every week. We found the class to be a positive atmosphere where we could learn with like minded individuals, parents seeking natural births. It was a breath of fresh air! Not only did we learn relaxation and hypnosis techniques, we were also presented with loads of information about the labor and birthing processes. I MEAN THIS: we would not have had a successful natural birth and followed birth plan if it wasn’t for Hypnobirthing class. Highly recommended.
I also want to thank our doula, Molly Murray, for being so supportive and helpful. She was there for whatever we needed from parking our car that we abandoned at the hospital entrance to showing Dusty where to push on my back to helping me focus on relaxing. She also took the delivery room photos. I’m so grateful she did as we wouldn’t have had any if not for her. Carson came to quickly for Dusty to set up his camera! We highly recommend hiring a doula, Molly if you’re in Cincinnati! Worth every penny.
Lastly, I want to thank Dusty for being the most amazing Husband and Father. He reassured me that I was doing great and helped me to relax throughout the birthing process. I had the most irrational thoughts that I was inconveniencing people, especially when I slimed the room. I was very embarrassed and he assured me that I was doing wonderfully. Dusty and I are so lucky to have a beautiful healthy baby girl and we’re enjoying every minute with her!