Most birth stories start out on one day and end within 6-40 hours. Mine is a little different. To really tell you my birth story we have to go back to November 9. Yes, that is a whopping 21 days or three weeks before I delivered Atticus.
After feeling contractions for a few days I went into my midwives office on November 9 for what I thought would be a routine appointment. I knew my baby could be here any day now, but I also wanted to stay pregnant as long as possible. I loved my belly and loved the nudges and kicks from my unnamed baby boy who I dubbed, Pickles. At my appointment I received a routine cervical check: 2cm and 70% effaced. I was also having sizable contractions and the midwife I saw that day proclaimed that she didn’t think I would make it to the weekend!
My expression was a combination of “What?!” and “I’m going to be a mom this weekend!” I immediately called Kevin and told him the news, while he was excited, I don’t think he was ready for our little boy to arrive. He had a lot of work to get done and opted to spend the night by work in order to get all of his lesson plans done. As I sat on the Harlem bus heading home, I joyfully freaked out. I was going to be a mom and my baby would be in my arms
by the weekend!
This is when things got a little kooky. The weekend passed and still no baby. The week of our first “due date” came and went, and still no baby. Each day passed and I was getting more and more uncomfortable. My contractions were coming like clockwork at around 8 minutes apart for days on end. I was trying to remain calm, but I was barely getting any sleep and I was getting pissed that my baby wasn’t here even though he was said to arrive a week ago!
I called my midwives office and one of the midwives said it sounded like I was in prodromal labor. Oh goody! Prodromal labor is essentially the first stage of labor that is in a hyper extended state. It could be days or it could be weeks and it looked like there was no end in sight.
Fast forward two weeks and we are passed every feasible due date. I was no longer having a Scorpio baby and I was worried I wasn’t going to get a Sagittarius either.
I tried everything, but castor oil. Labor cookies, pineapple, walking, sex, spicy food… Everything.
The morning of November 28 rolls around and I go to a 60 minute acupressure massage in hopes of getting this baby out. The chiropractors office I went to suggested acupuncture and at this point I was pretty desperate. My doula, Cecily had mentioned getting acupuncture for weeks, but I kept ignoring her advice. I was convinced my baby would come any day now. So the morning of the 29th started like every other day since the beginning of November. I was on about 3 hours of sleep and was extremely uncomfortable. I opted to take the chiro and doula’s advice and finally get a dozen needles stuck in my hands and feet. Turns out those tiny needles aren’t bad at all and shortly after the needles being inserted I could feel my contractions start to intensify. Instead of being every 6-12 minutes apart with no consistency, my contractions were 5-7 minutes apart on the dot and with a little more intensity than I had experienced in days past.
I had a growth ultrasound scheduled for 1pm and by the time I got on the Austin bus at 12:20pm I knew something was finally happening. I got to the hospital just in time for my appointment and promptly called my midwife as I waited 45 minutes for my scheduled appointment at radiology. Since I was already at the hospital I opted to go upstairs to Labor & Delivery. When I got to L&D I hadn’t had much progress dilation wise, I was 3cm and 100% effaced. My contractions were coming every 3 minutes apart at this point and the midwife on duty said I could go home to finish my labor.
I finally was able to give Kevin the phone call he had been waiting for; the baby was coming. I had Cecily meet me at the hospital and from there we stopped at Whole Foods for some last minute cold meds (oh I forgot to mention I contracted a cold in the days prior to giving birth) and a roast chicken for dinner. We proceeded back to the house and by this time my contractions were getting more intense and about 5 minutes apart.
We made it home at around 5pm and made pretzel bread sandwiches with brie cheese, roast chicken and avocado. On Cecily’s advice I ate despite not being hungry. I loaded up on protein, carbs and pomegranate cranberry juice. From the time we got home till I finished dinner my contractions really started to intensify. I was still able to talk through them, but my thoughts and sentences were getting choppy. We ventured upstairs where I would labor for a couple hours alternating between lying in bed, rotating my hips on the yoga ball and holding myself up against the crib.
At this point my contractions were 4 minutes apart, 1 minute in length for upwards of an hour. While our Bradley classes told us this was the time to go to the hospital, my entire labor was so wonky we decided to stick it out at the house as long as possible. At around 10pm Cecily went home to try to sleep for a bit, but shortly after she left I felt my contractions take a turn. I was no longer able to breathe as easily through them and I started to get chills. I hopped into the shower until she returned and at that point we decided to head to the hospital. We arrived at the hospital at 1am.
In triage I was 5cm dilated and monitored for 30 minutes. Those 30 minutes were probably the worst part of my labor, because I was strapped down to the monitors and unable to move freely. When we were finally led to the alternative birthing center (ABC) room the nurse filled the tub, we waited for the midwife to arrive and I labored in the shower. In the short hour since we arrived at the hospital I had dilated to 8cm.
When my midwife, Shirley, arrived I was able to get into the tub. The water felt amazing. I was able to relax and breathe through the contractions. At this point I was tired and trying to focus on each contraction rather than focusing on the pain. I know it may sound crazy, but breathing deeply and knowing that each contraction needed to enter and leave helped me so much. Cecily was amazing, she would reassure me and tell me to “welcome the contraction” and I would tell it to “leave.” Kevin would feed me ice chips and let me sip water between contractions. I was in a trance and other than asking for water and telling my contractions to leave I had a fairly silent labor.
At about 5:30am I was 10cm and was told I could start pushing. Unlike everything I heard and read, I had no urge or need to push. In the water I pushed and pushed, but had so much trouble with it. Everything up until this point was going so smoothly and here I was, moments away from having my son and I couldn’t push. Shirley suggested I get out of the tub and use the birthing stool. With 1.5 hours of pushing under my belt I finally felt my son crowning. The pain wasn’t nearly as bad as what I had anticipated; actually it wasn’t bad at all. I do know that this was the one moment of my birth that required some grunting. No screaming or howling like you see in the movies.
As the sun was rising, my little boy was born at 7:02am. I held him close and we waited for the cord to stop pulsing so daddy could cut it. We both looked at our son and I remember Kevin saying “he doesn’t look like us.” Yup, those were the first words my husband said, but I had to laugh and agree. My beautiful, nameless boy looked nothing like us. I asked Kevin what we were naming our little boy and he said “Atticus.” I was in shock as I really thought he would have been the 4th, but I couldn’t imagine Atticus with any other name.
Atticus’ birth was nothing short of amazing. I birthed him as naturally as possible and while I didn’t have the water birth I wanted, the birth stool is what helped me deliver my perfect baby boy. I couldn’t have done it without my wonderful husband, doula and midwife. The staff at the hospital was flawless and our overall experience really was superb. I left the hospital wanting to do it again and again.
Having a natural birth was the beat decision I could have made. Not only do you get to prove the naysayers wrong you can insure that your child comes into the world without harmful chemical and drugs pumped into them. Nothing in life is easy and while birth isn’t a walk in the park, it is certainly attainable for any woman. Giving birth was absolutely beautiful and I couldn’t imagine doing it any other way.