24 March 2011

My First Natural Birth: All the Gory Details

baby s2
Warning: This post may contain words like "uterus" and "placenta," so if you are one of those people who don't like those words, please stop reading now.

I'm not kidding, there will be blood! Don't say I didn't warn you.

*The last post was by Alex, and it was a double entendre, because while there was a huge sigh of relief at the end, there was also a lot of screaming at the top of my lungs in a way I have never screamed before that day.

Here is a list of all the due dates I passed with this baby:

1. My psychological due date of March 1. I had carried both other babies to 38.5 weeks, and I hoped this one would be the same.

2. My ultrasound due date of March 6. One of my other children was born on the ultrasound due date, so I hoped this one would be the same.

3. My 40 weeks due date of March 10. By the third due date's passage, I had pretty much resigned myself to the fact that I would NEVER be giving birth, but would remain in my enlarged station forever more.

Six fun-filled days after my LAST due date, I woke up feeling very nauseous. I had my appointment with my midwife that Tuesday, so I had Alex take me since I wasn't feeling well. She checked me, and I was at a 2.5. She encouragingly said she thought I could easily last another five days, and to come in Saturday if I hadn't gone into labor. She would perform her pagan ritual to get me going at that point. She also recommended castor oil, evening primrose oil, or other things that Alex would prefer I not write on my family friendly blog—if I wanted to take matters into my own hands.

On the way home from my appointment, I had to stop and toss my lunch into the dirt on the side of the road, which rid me of my nausea. My contractions started coming regularly after that, but I didn't start timing them until around 5:00 p.m. They were every seven to fifteen minutes all the way until bedtime. I went to sleep, and at around 3:00 a.m. the contractions woke me up. I started timing, and they were every three to five minutes.

I called my awesome midwife, Elizabeth, at about 4:00 a.m., and she and her assistant Shannon came around 5:00. My mother in law picked up the kids around that time, too. Poor Elizabeth had not expected me to go into labor, so she had stayed up very late talking to her daughter who was home for spring break. Once she and Shannon unpacked, she checked me, and I was at a 3.5. Awesome.


Liz and Shannon went to sleep on the couch, while Alex finished some work that was due that day. I went to labor in the tub for about an hour. At around 6:00 a.m. I got out of the tub and needed Alex to help me through the contractions. He helped by pushing my knees toward my back when it got difficult and telling me about really boring things so I could focus on something in a part of my brain that is not attached to the pain part. We called my mom to come around 7:00 a.m., which worked well for her because she was here for the most exciting part.

Prior to the hard stuff, I had also used some hypnobirthing visualization techniques, which I found helpful up until things got difficult.

When I started moaning through contractions a little after 6:00 a.m., Elizabeth came and checked me, and I was at  a 6.5, which I thought wasn't super. However, she and Shannon spread out the shower curtain and sheet as if they were ready to get the show on the road. I felt encouraged. I was trying to relax through really intense contractions, and finally Elizabeth said, "Jenny, there comes a point at which you can NOT relax through, and you have to start working with them." So I started trying to flex and work with the contractions, and that helped with the pain, as well as made me progress faster.

I had wondered if I would be a noisy birther, or if I ought to try to let my children sleep in the other room while I birthed. I am REALLY glad they were not in the house. Or the house next door. Because I am a VERY NOISY birther. I was moaning and groaning and yelling through the hard contractions, and when I got to transition I screamed. Elizabeth told me to focus my scream down and out, which made for funny noises, because I would start in a high pitch, and then move down to a more gutteral yell.

I progressed steadily, with Liz telling me some other positions to try, which made the pain a little more bearable, and helped the baby's position prepare for birth. Emotionally, I felt like I could handle it until about 20 or 30 minutes before he came out, which was about 8:00 a.m. At that point I started yelling things such as the following:

"Sorry I keep yelling!"

I yelled so much that by the end my throat felt like I had been at a state championship football game. All the time I was shouting these desperate things, there was a little spot in the back of my mind that was very happy, because I knew that when a woman gets to the point at which she thinks she is going to die, the baby will be there very soon. Sadly, I did not take this opportunity of a free pass to say all the bad words I am ever tempted to say. Maybe next time. The worst thing I did was tell Alex to shut up, and that was more jokingly than anything.

Elizabeth broke my water when I fully dilated, and I thought it was the baby's head. I would say I was disappointed that it wasn't the head, but I pretty much felt only Pain at that point. I pushed a couple more times, and his head finally came out. That was the eye-crossingly hard part. I thought I was going to tear in half starting at the ring of fire, but I was also exultant to be almost done!

I have read about some women having a "birth climax," that is similar to other biological climaxes. Yeah, that didn't happen for me. However, it was a great natural high not to be drowning in the pain of labor and transition anymore. Alex caught the baby from by my side, because I couldn't bear to have him leave his position of staring into my face while I yelled for help. He was pulling my knee back on one side and Shannon was pushing for me on the other. Shannon said she had never pushed knees back before, which is funny because while she was helping me I thought, "Oh, she must do this all the time," because she was really good at it.

I did tear a little, but not enough to even sew up. I was so happy to have the little screaming baby out on my tummy, all covered in gooey blood. He had no vernix, long fingernails, and lots of dark hair. I birthed the placenta, and it was huge! My midwife put it delicately by saying, "You were obviously well-nourished during this pregnancy." We didn't save it to plant or eat for dinner. I know you were wondering.

I have had two babies with epidurals, and I have to say, during the birth, I was really wishing for one. Soon after I had Henry, as I gazed at him in oxytocin induced highs, I thought, "I could do that again, he is so CUTE! I want another one right away." But not this time. While the amnesia has already set in, and I am already willing to do it naturally next time, my body seems to sense that even though the child is wonderful, I can wait awhile to do that again. Perhaps a long while.

I really appreciated the way labor progressed through the hard part so quickly, with it only lasting around two to two and a half hours. With both other babies, I got to the hard part, and then I had an epidural. Labor then lasted between three and six more hours. I think that was probably harder on the babies. Grace's heart rate kept dropping at the end, and Henry's did a little, too. But Scott's never did. I think that while his birth was the hardest for me, it was the easiest on the baby. You can't tell that from the serious expression on his face in this picture, though:
baby s1

The day he was born, I had my doubts about ever doing it naturally again because I wanted an epidural so badly in the morning. But now, with a little distance and a little amnesia, I would definitely do it again.


Jessi said...

You are seriously amazing. I know women have birthed naturally for ever, but I think it is a miracle. Well done.

The Stratton Family said...

You are a trooper! I seriously am in awe of women that have a natural childbirth! Is his name Scott? I LOVE that name (its my little brothers :)) congrats again! I cant wait to see him!

Linz said...

GREAT story!! I am so proud of you! I had Andrew naturally and I wouldn't do it any other way. (of course, my drug filled first labor was 12 different kinds of awful, so it may not be totally fair to drugged labors). As it stands, if I were to have another (not likely) I would do it naturally (although only in a hospital for me ;)) Recovery was so much easier for both of us.

Anyway, enough about me! Congratulations!!!! SCOTT (right?) is seriously one of the most beautiful babies I have ever seen!! Great job!! You are amazing!!! I really enjoyed reading your birth story. Next time swear a little more.

angela michelle said...

I've been awaiting this post anxiously! He is as beautiful as I knew he would be. Congratulations on a beautiful baby and a natural birth. Hope you're starting to feel well and strong.

Jesse said...

Jenny, this post is amazing. I am inspired, although I'll never be giving birth anyway. I loved the whole thing, although I was hoping for a picture of the placenta. However, I did feel inspired and I just googled it, so now I am more than satisfied.

Excellent post. Amazing experience.

Melissa said...

oh wow. don't think i ever want to have a natural birth. i am such a wimp! you did so well though. you are so much stronger then i ever could be. Great job! beautiful baby!

amy said...

You know I love this. Thank you for your tactful, as always, inclusion of details. I loved your story so much I made Ryan read it. So he will hopefully be prepared for what is hopefully to be our future. Hopefully tomorrow..

A girl can wish.

Scott is gorgeous and I do love the name. And it suits his little face :)

betsey said...

I love a birth story. Seriously, they make me laugh and cry and yours was no exception. Thanks for sharing this, gory details and all :)

I had Calvin naturally, and I 100% agree that the afterwards is so much better than giving birth with an epidural. That being said, we are also waiting a while longer for #3 :)

Lisa said...

WOW. Very impressive. My mom had her 3rd child at home (in St George) with a home visit Dr and a nurse. Scared the crap out of my dad :) even though nothing went wrong but my mom liked it. So I was interested to hear how yours was.

That said, I had my first one completely naturally, in a hospital but no drugs at all. I agree with your conclusions at the end that natural birth you are like, wow, I can wait to do that again for awhile... My recovery was not better at all though after my 1st vs. my 2nd. I felt like I had the CRAP beat out of me after my natural birth and was a good week before I could even WALK normally. Where my 2nd I had an epidural and felt fine in like a couple days, seriously. And my natural birth the baby was distressed, and pooped while in the canal and all kinds of stuff. 3 freaking hours of pushing with her with no drugs and I thought I would die. Nurses said on a normal epidural I would have had to have a C-section. :( So luckily I pushed hard but man, I wouldn't do it again! :) So good job! And I know how you feel :) Glad everything is okay and you made it okay :)

Paulette said...

He is sooooooooooooooooooo cute! Love the hair! I'm jealous, cause my babies all came out very bald. I'm proud of you and your endurance. I've had an epidural every time with no regrets.:) But I applaud all women who are daring to tough it out. Way to go, Jen!! He is beautiful and big.:) You did good!:)

My5wmd said...

Beautiful. I think natural childbirth is so empowering. Not necessarily in the moment itself, I mean, giving birth is extremely messy and painful. But now you know that you are made of splendidly stern stuff, and that knowledge will serve you well in the future. And he's gorgeous. Congratulations!!

Dansie Family said...

of course you will! you are amazing and he is super cute. i am also a noisy birther. i still feel very embarassed when i think back to babies number 1 and 4 because i was the noisiest and i still blush thinking about it. and i want to bring you dinner when the ward dinners run out. friday? or monday?

Gina said...

Oh, I just left the most awesome comment, then it disappeared.
To sum up:
Your baby is gorgeous!
If you lived closer I might steal him!
I'm so glad you shared all the birth details becuase I have been so curious. You are amazing.
Thanks for not eating the placenta. That would have grossed me out to read about.

The Yoder's Four said...

Ow ow ow ow OW! Transition and pushing without drugs is MURDER!!! I just kept thinking how much it felt like a bowling ball was passing through. And I didn't enjoy feeling the contractions to deliver the afterbirth, nor the contractions every time I nursed.....in fact every time I had to use the bathroom for the next two months, all the horror of labor rushed back to me.

Isn't being a woman great.

I'm camping out at the hospital next time so I make sure I'm there in time for an epidural.

Congrats on surviving and having the most adorable baby to show for it, though!!! I can't believe how late he was and how big he was. He weighed FOUR POUNDS more than Madelyn did! I can't believe you didn't need stitches!

Oh and by the way, I was a super loud screamer, too. Embarrassingly loud. Hysterical. Thank you for sharing all your gory details!

msjvd said...

Well done. Well written. Not even too gross for me. Thanks for that.

Melissa Bastow said...

I like that you screamed. And said that you screamed. A lot of people wouldn't own up to that in the hopes of making the natural birth seem so much more magical. And I wasn't disappointed about your lack in profanity, but if it were me, I'm sure I would have really meant the "shut up" part.

Your baby is gorgeous. I'm jealous of his hair. I love when babies have lots of dark hair.

Sarah B said...

loved your detailed account! I want to be a midwife down the track so I was right in there, blood/placenta and all! hahaha. Thanks for being so candid and honest, and also CONGRATULATIONS!!!! He is perfect ;)

Queen Elizabeth said...

Good job to you and what an incredibly gorgeous baby. Congrats!

Pots and Pins said...

You deserve something wonderful for that - on top of your beautiful baby boy!!! Natural childbirth gives you an automatic PASS for anything you want, FOREVER, in your married life...an unlimited PASS! You are simply amazing - I read your post wishing for drugs for you and me! I'm exhausted now...must go have a nap to recoup from your birth story! But I'm very proud of you and so happy he is here and well! xo, Nan

The Stratton's said...

Somehow I kept giggling through that whole thing. Seems inappropriate, but I could almost see it all happening. You are incredible! And I love his name. He is one of the cutest babies I have ever seen...

Amy Lee said...

Wow! That was emotional! Thank you for sharing your birth story with us. I am so glad you made it through. I DO understand what you went through and now you can say that to other women who birth naturally. Now I am kicking myself for not asking you for your placenta. We just planted a tree last weekend and I knew that we were planning on it. Oh well. :)
He is a beautiful baby! Hope your healing process goes well.

Marie Says Yes said...

That is horrible! Scary! Yikes! I was so nervous for you! I'm still very, deeply happy you survived! Pain like that is -- scary! Yikes! Wow! You are a champion!

He is a doll, though, so it is all worth it, of course. Ask Alex if he loves you more now that he has seen you ripped in half for his sake. I'm always curious about that.

I am under the impression that this was a good experience. I am glad for that!

Heidi said...

I could so take him home Jeni! He is so adorably handsome!!! Congrats again.

Saddie said...

What an epic tale of struggle and triumph! I especially liked the happy ending. :)

Melissa said...

I'm an idiot!!! I left my comment under "The Value of Peer Review Classes". Sorry!

Mike and Melissa said...

Wow! Congrats, you are amazing Jenny! I want to go natural because of you and your determination. THat's also cool how fast you progressed. Even, 3cm of dilation while you relaxed in the tub. It just shows that child birth is a natural process and your body can do it if you believe it can!

Cheryl said...

I was totally enthralled with this good read. You are a gifted writer--and mother. I'm glad you have a healthy new baby boy and that you did NOT die after all. That point in labor, when you were expressing such thoughts, is like no other.
You have a beautiful family.
P.S.The older you get, the faster amnesia comes.

The Rookie said...

I bow down to the queen. He's beautiful. Congratulations once again!