This story has taken much longer to write than I anticipated. I didn’t realize how difficult it would be to talk about my birth experience. I have written and re-written the story because when I go back to read it I always feel like it’s too technical and doesn’t really capture what happened that day.
One of the things that struck me that day was the difference between my husband, Paul, and I and the hospital staff. For them it was just another day at work, but for us it was our most life-changing moment.
To prepare for the birth of our child Paul and I chose to attend a Bradley Method class. We felt strongly that a drug-free birth was the best choice for my health and the health of our child. I am so glad that we took that class. It gave both of us the confidence we needed to face whatever might come our way during labor.
When I woke up that Saturday morning my back ached. I used the restroom and noticed that there was some blood, and I felt concern. I called my doctor’s office and the nurse said, “Honey, you’re probably in labor! Why don’t you head up to the hospital and get things checked out.” That sent panic/excitement through me… I wasn’t quite 39 weeks. I thought I was pretty lucky to be a first time mom and have the baby EARLY!
It took Paul and I almost two hours to make it to the hospital. I wanted to shower and make sure we had everything ready before leaving in case we didn’t come back. When we got to the hospital the nurse checked us in and confirmed that I was indeed having contractions and was 3cm. We spent a couple of hours there and she gave me the option to go back home since I wasn’t quite 4cm. Paul and I eagerly left the hospital mainly because I was really hungry! After a delicious lunch of pasta and garlic bread I laid down for a nap. I could feel contractions now and again but I was trying not to think about them. I got bored with sleeping and felt like walking around. It was a gorgeous fall day. We walked around our farm and talked about our hopes and dreams for this baby we would be having soon. We speculated if it was a boy or a girl, and tossed around some name ideas. I had to stop a couple of times during contractions, and that gave me hope that we were making progress.
Early Saturday evening I felt a rush of liquid, and assumed my water was breaking. Instead it was a gush of blood. Fear seized my heart, knowing that this wasn’t normal. Within 5 minutes we were on our way to the hospital again, and I was anxious to make sure that our baby was ok.
They admitted me, and that same nurse took us to our room and said we wouldn’t be leaving this time, but she wouldn’t be on shift much longer. She introduced us to Ashley who would be with us throughout the night. She was the sweetest nurse we could have asked for. I enjoyed chatting with her while she hooked up the monitors and found out she was the mother of two and pregnant with her third!
The monitor showed baby was ok, but my contractions were 5-7 minutes apart. I knew that we still had a long way to go. I felt discouraged when she checked me and said I was only 5 cm. It had been 6 hours since I was a 4. I wasn’t in any pain at that point, but I felt anxious thinking I could be in labor for hours/days longer.
Around 9PM Saturday evening the doctor came in to discuss breaking my water and starting Pitocin. My bleeding was increasing, and he was concerned that the baby might not be ok if we didn’t move labor along. On the other hand he said I still might be in labor the next morning even if we went along with his plan. Paul and I asked for some time to talk about what we wanted to do. I was torn between wanting to let my body take its time and the fear that by not intervening my baby might not be safe. We prayed together and felt a sense of peace that taking the doctor’s advice was an okay thing to do. Our plan had been no intervention during labor, but we realized that we needed to be flexible for the sake of our child.
It didn’t take long before the contractions intensified and grew closer together. I became completely focused on the labor, preferring to labor on my left side with my eyes closed. I silently quoted Psalm 23 to myself and practiced relaxing my body. Paul read Bible verses to me when a contraction would start. It was a holy moment. There was nothing that I could do to escape from that situation. I had to rely on God and my husband to see me through to the end.
Time passed so quickly in spite of my growing discomfort. Transition was more distinct than I thought it would be. The pain overwhelmed me and I thought, “I am going to lose my mind!” Then I remembered our Bradley instructor telling us that when I felt like that the baby was about to come! That knowledge helped me to refocus and press on to the delivery.
I had no concept of time during delivery. It felt much more chaotic than I thought it would. I kept my eyes closed until Ashley started saying, “Look! Look!” I opened my eyes to see our precious baby’s head and body and I knew I was almost there. Within seconds SHE was in my arms and everything stopped. I couldn’t find words, and I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was an unmatched experience to touch my daughter for the first time.
Sadly she was whisked away within a couple of minutes. I continued to bleed and it intensified after delivery. The doctor called in an emergency team and I was surrounded. As my doctor worked to stop the bleeding I remember feeling more tired and I wondered why it was so hard to stay awake. I kept trying to focus on my husband who was in the back of the room with our daughter. His face was calm and his words reassuring. I would later find out that he was watching everything that was happening and was scared that he was going to lose me and be left to raise our daughter on his own.
Nothing short of a miracle the doctor was able to get the bleeding to stop. My numbers quickly returned to normal, and by Monday afternoon we were released to go home! Before leaving the doctor thanked us for how calm we were during delivery. We told him that we appreciated what he did for me. In spite of things going in a direction opposite of our birth plan we were still thrilled with the outcome. I had achieved the main goal of not receiving any pain medications during the birth. So we were at peace with what happened knowing that it had gone that way for a reason.
The greatest part of this story is that we welcomed our daughter, Hunter Rae, into the world on October 13, 2013. She is perfect in every way.