Giving birth is absolutely, without a question, the hardest, most exhausting, greatest, most amazing thing I have ever done. I have had the opportunity to enjoy and endure this experience twice. The second time was here in Texas with Allen Birthing Center. I had previously had a home birth with a birth center in Tulsa, so I was already aware of the pain and joy that goes into an unmedicated home birth.
I was due on May 8th, but since my first one was 10 days late, I didn’t expect to actually go into labor for another week. The next day, (Monday) I went in for my 40 week visit. I thought my water might have broken that morning but was unsure. Turns out it hadn’t. During the exam, the midwife swept my membranes, which seemed to start something because that afternoon, I began to feel weak, yet regular contractions. I was unsure at first if this was the real deal, however as the afternoon wore on, they grew from being almost undetectable to being almost uncomfortable. We called the birth center in order to give them a heads up in case things started progressing rapidly. (In my previous pregnancy, once active labor finally hit, things moved fast. We had called the midwife at 2am and the baby was born by 6:30am) I was timing my contractions, but they were a bit random. The midwife on call came by that evening to check up on me (my house happened to be on her way home), but there was no real progression. So, I went to bed that night hopeful and excited, but I knew I had some serious work ahead of me and I needed to be well rested.
It wasn’t easy to get sleep that night. The contractions grew in intensity and would occasionally wake me up. The next day, they calmed down and actually stopped for a few hours (talk about discouraging! In pregnancy number one, I had a similar thing happen. I was up all night with painful contractions and then they stopped for two days. Baby didn’t make her appearance for 4 more days!) As Tuesday wore on, they came back, but they still weren’t serious contractions. Tuesday night I tried to sleep and again, it was very hard to do. They increased in strength and I would actually call them painful at this point. They were lasting about 20-30 seconds.
Early in the morning on Wednesday we thought it was the real deal. They hurt. The midwife on call came over and checked on me. It still wasn’t time yet! While they hurt and were relatively close together, they were short. I spent that day in and out of bed. I just wanted to sleep but I couldn’t get comfortable. I couldn’t sit because that made the contractions worse. As night came on, they grew stronger. I was so exhausted. I ended up getting into the bathtub and floating on my stomach with my head and arms resting on the back of the tub. It was apparently comfortable enough because I fell asleep for about 30 minutes that way. While in the tub, I felt something in my pelvis shift. Up until now, my contractions felt like someone trying to crush my pelvis from the inside out. (In both pregnancies I never had the whole uterus contracting sensation. The pain was always focused at the pelvis and very bottom of my uterus). After I got out of the bath, my pain had actually decreased and it no longer felt like my pelvis was going to break.
She had shifted and that’s when things really started to progress. So we called my mom and we called the midwife. I’m walking around and with each contraction I’m able to find relief by rocking my hips from side to side with the contraction. My midwife shows up and in between contractions, we are chatting and discussing how I want to proceed. We set everything up for me to give birth on the floor by the bed and to recover in the bed itself. I start to get anxious to just be done with it all. I know she’s getting closer and closer but for some reason I have the bright idea to help her along by starting to push before I’m truly ready to push. (I could tell she was close, but not quite 10cm close). The great thing about pushing was that I didn’t feel the pain of the contractions. The bad thing is that it is incredibly exhausting. After about 30 minutes of pushing, my tired uterus stops contracting as often. Things are stalling. Turns out my cervix was sort of hooked on the baby’s head and it was pulling her back towards the uterus like a rubber band. The midwife said that she would eventually get around it and come, but she could also assist in moving the cervix. However, it had to be done during a contraction while I push. We gave it a go and oh my gosh! It was so uncomfortable! I couldn’t do it. I was unable to let her finish the procedure. I went back to pushing. I had moved from hands and knees to my side.
Finally, I was too tired to even be on my side. I just wanted to climb into bed. So that’s what we did. I had been pushing for about an hour now. We stacked up pillows and adjusted the bed and I climbed on in. The midwife encouraged me to let her try the procedure with my cervix again so I agreed. I was able to get through it this time and I’m so glad I did! She was finally clear and she started crowning within a few more pushes. When she was finally born I burst into tears. I was so grateful that the whole ordeal was over. This time around was a much more exhausting and draining birth. It was early Thursday morning and I had been in labor since Monday afternoon.
The part of labor that I was so looking forward to had finally come. She had finally been born! I got to meet my precious love. There was still more to be done. We had to deliver the placenta. Baby had to be examined. I had to get stitches for a tear. But as far as I was concerned, the hard work was done. We called our 2 year old to come in and meet her sister and she’s been in love with that baby since. We all have been madly in love with this baby since.
She’s now a healthy, happy 8 month old who loves to babble and crawl around. I still long to go back to that moment when I first met her because it was one of the best moments of my life. The only other moment that equals it was the moment I met my first daughter. I thank God that I had a healthy pregnancy with no complications because even though an unmedicated labor is hard, it was so worth it for me. To be able to labor in the comfort of my own home and to already be home when baby arrived was perfect for us. Even more importantly, because of the length of my labor, I very likely would have been subjected to all kinds of interventions had I chosen a hospital birth. The intelligent, compassionate, and patient midwives at the Allen Birthing Center let me labor as long as my body needed to.