Hi there! I am taking a break from posting this week as I should be enjoying my new baby girl right this minute! To celebrate Sophia’s birth, I have a weeks worth of guest posts lined up from some of my bloggy friends sharing their baby’s birth stories. Be sure to follow me on Twitter because I will be posting updates on Sophia’s arrival (and I’m sure LOTS of pics!) and come back next week to read all about her birth story as well.
Hi! My name is Jill and my little blog world is called Nokoikonomia. The crazy name is a combination of the street of our first home and the Greek word for household. I say it no-koy-kon-om-ee’-ah. I majored in ancient Greek and Latin in college. After college, I worked at a coffee shop, then went to law school. Then we moved from Minneapolis, MN to Dallas, TX! Now I find myself (somewhat accidentally) staying at home with our daughter Jaye (13 mths). I blog mostly about home decor and diy projects with a fair amount of recipes, budgeting, family stories, and general household management thrown in for good measure!
Long before I ever thought seriously about having a baby, I remember reading natural birth stories and thinking “How crazy! I’d never do that.” But then when I was pregnant with Jaye, it turned out that a natural birth was exactly what I wanted. Jaye was born in water at a birth center, not a hospital, with no pain medication at all. It seems crazy, but I don’t describe my birth experience as being painful at all just uncomfortable, and I wrote this all down right afterwards so time can’t have faded my memory too much. Anyway, less blather, more story. Here goes:
My birth story (and Jaye’s too) began on Wednesday, August 3, 2011 with a backache. I remember noting that my lower back ached in a different way from my normal pregnancy backache. I didn’t think a whole lot about it though. Phil and I went for a nice walk and had our usual evening.
I woke up at 4:30 am on Thursday, August 4, 2011 with what I knew were definitely some contractions. I felt them in my back, but they weren’t bad and I dozed for a while. Like we’d talked about in Hypnobabies class, I tried to relax and sleep and not get too excited. I knew it was possible to have light contractions for days beforehand. I got up for real around 7 am as Phil was getting ready for work. My contractions were coming every 10 minutes. We went for a walk and decided that since Phil had been planning on taking a half day to go to our scheduled midwife appointment that afternoon perhaps he would just work from home until then.
I ate some cereal for breakfast- Kashi Crunch. I called Health Foundations, our birth center, and just let them know that I might be in early labor. I think I maybe read some blogs and tried to have a normal start to the day. I lay down to take a nap at one point too. Around 9:00 am, I started feeling nauseous. I started throwing up after every contraction. For some reason, this was absolutely not something I’d anticipated or even thought could happen at all. Perhaps I should have guessed, since I generally throw up when I get migraines.
I think at this point, I put on the Deepening track from Hypnobabies. However, I remember that the super calm and chipper voice got on my nerves. At one point, she said, “You feel so good” and I remember retorting “No, I don’t!” I didn’t listen to any more tracks after that. But I definitely kept using the things I’d learned in Hypnobabies. Phil would quote sections from memory to me and remind me to stay “in center.” I focused on relaxing and breathing and letting my body do it.
Around noon, Phil called the midwives again and told them I’d been throwing up every 10 minutes after every contraction for a while now. Amy said, in her usual calm way, “It would be better if she wasn’t.” We grabbed a few things and headed to the birth center to get some nausea relief for me.
When we got there, we headed back to one of the two bedrooms, and I got an IV with some fluids to rehydrate me and some nausea medicine. My chiropractor came in and adjusted me. Phil says her presence really calmed be down. I felt SO much better once I wasn’t throwing up anymore. Phil urged me to eat some Larabar and drink some water. We stayed at the birth center for a while. Dozing on the bed or the couch in between contractions.
The midwives checked me twice while I was there and I’d progressed from 1 cm to almost 3ish. We took a walk several times around the block to keep things moving. At one point, I stopped and threw up. That’s what I remember. Phil tells it differently. He says that right outside of a busy mechanic’s shop with the garage doors open and lots of people around, I staggered over to a little tree and threw up all over underneath it and then staggered on down the street while he watched helplessly. I remember that throwing up was pretty miserable, but I don’t remember the contractions being that bad. They weren’t comfortable, but I generally just leaned on Phil and breathed through them.
The midwives wanted me to go home and get some rest since my contractions were still generally 10 minutes apart (they’d gotten closer together while we were walking, but spread out again once we stopped). I really didn’t want to go home because I was so nervous about the drive home and about having to drive back later. Sitting down during contractions didn’t feel as good as standing or leaning. But we headed home around 6:00 pm, stopping at the pharmacy to get something the midwives prescribed to help me sleep.
My memory and sense of time gets cloudier once we got home. The midwives wanted me to try to sleep, so I sat on the ottoman leaning up against the bed. I remember that I was hot and then cold. I was freezing in between contractions. I would wrap my giant snuggie all around me. Then a contraction would start and I would have to stand up, throw off the blankets, and turn on the fan. Phil would press on my lower back and that helped. As the contraction slowed, I would head into the bathroom because for some reason it’s the coolest room in our house. After I cooled down, I would be freezing again and head back under my blankets. In between I would eat a spoonful of peanut butter with graham crackers mashed up and honey mixed in.
My mom arrived around 9:00 pm. I had called her around 3:00 pm to let her know that today was the day. She hurried to the airport and made it in perfect time. I remember hearing her chatting and greeting Phil as she walked in, but Phil was all business, telling her how my contractions were working and what she was supposed to do. She and Phil switched off sitting next to me and pressing on my back when I needed them to. My mom says I was very calm; she would never have known I was having a contraction except that I would stand up and turn on the ceiling fan. I remember asking how far apart the contractions were but Phil and my mom didn’t want to tell me in case it was discouraging to me. I remember insisting that they were definitely getting closer and closer together.
A few minutes after midnight, my water broke right in the middle of a contraction. It was kind of startling. Once my water broke, the contractions became more intense. I decided to get in the shower. I started moaning through the contractions and each time one started Phil would come over and just hold me with his eyes. I started to doubt myself some saying that I couldn’t do it when Phil would come over. He told me I was doing it.
Phil had called the answering service for the midwives as soon as my water broke, but I was getting pretty impatient to hear back from them. It felt incredibly urgent to me that we be at the birth center immediately. I said we had to leave right away even though we hadn’t heard back from a midwife. Luckily, Cheryl called as we were heading out to the car. We beat everyone to the birth center. I have a distinct memory of standing out on the front porch in the middle of the night leaning on Phil and swaying a bit through a contraction. It was kind of surreal.
Amanda, the birth assistant, showed up shortly and let us in. We headed back to the same room we’d been in earlier that day. Cheryl arrived in a few minutes. She took one look at me and made me lay down on the bed. I was concerned because standing felt more comfortable for the contractions, but Cheryl said she’d coach me through it and after a few in that position it would feel better. She said I looked too tired to keep standing for all of them. She did coach me through them and seemed to know just what to say.
Once I was lying down, Cheryl and Amanda got an IV of Group B antibiotics started for me and did check me once even though they don’t like to check the dilation much once the water has broken. I was at 7 cm. That didn’t seem far enough to me at the time. I felt like I needed to be MUCH further along and ready to push. But the birth progressed quickly from that point. Cheryl had me get up on hands and knees and do some slow hip circles to help change Jaye’s position inside and help her come down more. The change in position made a big difference. I remember saying “Open, open, open.” I remember Cheryl telling me to relax into the pressure in my lower back. She described exactly what I was feeling and I was able to let go.
Phil tells me that at one point he asked what he could do for me and I replied, “Make it stop.” I must have been in transition. I don’t remember feeling that desperate.
I was able to eat and drink more at this point. I ate graham crackers with peanut butter spread on them. Cheryl asked if the tub still sounded good and I said definitely yes, so they started filling it. I got into the tub on my hands and knees at first. It was nice to be in the warm water. Phil put on a swimsuit and joined me. I definitely felt the urge to push at this point and the sensation of the contractions changed a lot. It felt to me like the contractions slowed down a lot and I had a lot of time to relax in between. I’d ask for a cool washcloth on my face, drink some water, and eat something. Phil told me later that the contractions were coming just as often as they had been earlier. Perhaps I was just calmer or more in tune with them so they felt further apart.
I remember Cheryl telling me that I could push as much as I wanted, throughout the entire contraction. At one point she told me that it had been a little while since the last contraction which likely meant the next one was going to be more powerful. She said she could see Jaye’s head descending and then retreating a little bit with each contraction. Cheryl suggested that I change positions, to sit back and lean against Phil. I really didn’t want to, but she said after the next contraction we’ll change positions.
As usual, Cheryl was right. I moved to sit with my back leaning up against Phil and my legs pressing kind of against the side of the tub. Once again, changing positions made huge progress. I was very focused on pushing Jaye out. I tried to push as long and as hard as I could during each contraction. At one point, Cheryl said I could reach down and feel Jaye’s head, but I didn’t want to. I was too focused on pushing. But then right away Cheryl said, “No, reach down and take her, she’s there.” There was one contraction that was pretty uncomfortable, and I didn’t want to stop pushing at the end of it. After the next push, I felt a huge sense of relief and release of pressure. I looked down, and there was Jaye’s head and arm. Cheryl helped me reach down and put little Jaye up on my chest.
I remember saying, “It’s a baby.” and “We did it, Phil. We had a baby.” I also remember being so overcome with just emotion in general that I couldn’t really form words, but just happy little moans. I remember commenting on how purple Jaye was. She was also really sticky because she was covered with vernix.
They wrapped a towel around Jaye as I held her in the tub. After a bit (I have no sense of the timing), we all got out of the tub. Phil held Jaye skin to skin and hung out over by the bed. Cheryl and I dealt with the placenta. I didn’t really have to push it out, but neither did Cheryl pull it at all. It just kind of came on its own. It was kind of weird-looking, and I was interested in learning about it. Phil, holding the baby a few feet away from me, were less interested.
We lay down in bed. As soon as Phil put Jaye down on my stomach and chest, she picked her little head right up and stared at me with her big alert eyes and a wrinkled forehead.
And that’s how Jaye was born. And how I had a baby. I couldn’t be happier with my perfect, natural water-birth!