For part 1 of Kennedy’s birth story click here.
I was in a hospital gown and hooked up to blood pressure, contraction, and fetal monitoring. I had an IV in my arm. I was in fact a patient. It was such a weird, uncomfortable feeling, but the nurse was so great to me. She said, “Listen, you’re used to being on my side of things, but for now just allow yourself to be a patient and let me be the nurse. Focus on getting your baby out.” It was actually really comforting to hear that she knew what was going on in my head. I’m not sure if it was her pep-talk or the worsening contractions, but I’d say that within an hour or two I had no worries about being a patient, I was consumed by having this baby!
When I got to the hospital my contractions really weren’t all that bad. Like I’ve said a million times, I could still walk and talk through them. That changed within a couple of hours at the hospital. It seemed that they got stronger and stronger rather quickly. I was frustrated at having to keep the monitors on because I was told I’d only have to for a little while to get an initial reading, but I never got the go ahead to take them off. I paced around the room for the next couple of hours and had to pee probably every 30 minutes or so. I’m not sure why, but that part really surprised me. Dr. Anthony got to the hospital around 5:30pm and checked me. I had progressed to 6cm but my water still had not broken.
She asked me if I wanted her to break my water and I immediately said no. I didn’t want any interventions! I was also very afraid at this point. I was already in so much pain and I just feared how bad it was going to get. I didn’t do much prep for natural childbirth other than reading other people’s birth stories online. The consensus in all of the stories was breaking water = more pain.
I asked Dr. Anthony to go over with me what breaking my water would mean for me. She was very patient and said that if she broke my water then the contractions would get stronger and even closer together, but that labor would also be shorter. I asked her for a few minutes to think about it and she gladly agreed and left the room. I was so afraid. I remember saying to Alex “I don’t want to do this anymore. I don’t think I can do it.” That’s when the nurse stepped in–”Emily, you’re doing a great job considering how far along you are. I really think you are a great candidate for natural birth if you really want to do it. But you’ve got to decide right now what you want to do because it’s going to be too late pretty soon.” That’s all it took, just that little bit of encouragement–my mind went in to go-mode and all I wanted was to get this labor over with. “Okay, let’s break my water. Let’s do this. Go tell Dr. Anthony I’m ready to go.”
My mind was made up and I was focused. This was around 5:45-6pm I believe.
When Dr. Anthony came back a few minutes later to break my water I was still scared, but my determination seemed to take over. My biggest frustration was that I had to sit on the bed for her to break my water. Absolutely nothing in me wanted to be sitting down. I probably walked miles in that delivery room! It didn’t hurt for my water to be broken, but the volume of fluid that came out of me was surprising. It totally grossed me out. Seriously, it’s a really disgusting feeling. If I wasn’t in so much pain I would’ve been extremely embarrassed. The even grosser part is that it kept gushing (yep, I chose the word gushing–deal with it) with each contraction. That means every minute or less it was happening. Sick!
Everything I was told about having my water broken quickly came to fruition. These contractions were no joke. I did my best to breathe deeply and slowly through each one. Occasionally the pain would just wash over me and I’d begin to hyperventilate. Alex would tell me to slow my breathing and with every ounce of focus I could muster I would eventually slow my breathing and it would ease the pain enough for me to get through the contractions. How can breathing have such a powerful effect on how I perceive pain?!
My best guess is that it was between 6:30 & 6:45pm when I had the urge to push. I had been checked a few minutes earlier and was 9.5cm. Sitting on the edge of the bed I had my biggest contraction yet and my body was pushing without me allowing it to. No one was in the room except for Alex and my mom. “I need to push!!!!!” I yelled. My mom raced to the hallway and got somebody’s attention, because very quickly my room filled with people–my nurse, Dr. Anthony, and God knows who else. Apparently when you tell them you feel it in your butt people take you very seriously. The next thing I knew they were setting up–Dr. Anthony was gowning up, my bed was transformed in to pushing position, and the sterile tray full of tools was scooted to the edge of the bed. Lights were bright above shining “down there” and I was about to start pushing. Holy crap. Holy crap. Holy crap. I was truly so scared.
Pushing was everything I imagined and nothing like I imagine at the same time. I didn’t like the positioning of the bed because, although it was “sitting up”, it just wasn’t up enough for me. I get why you see women squatting in home birth videos now. Gravity, people, gravity. I was zoned out to everyone in the room except my doctor. I heard voices and counting and encouragement, but I was mostly in my head. This is what people talk about as an outer body experience. It really was. I didn’t know what was going on anywhere and my eyes were focused on the ceiling almost the entire time. I had always heard that you’re supposed to push like you’re trying to poop, but I didn’t expect to feel like the baby was coming out of my butt! If I didn’t know my own anatomy you’d have a hard time convincing me that she didn’t come out of my butt. Seriously. It’s crazy.
I pushed a total of about 35 minutes we think. The pain is a strong, burning pain. It’s not one you can really relate to until you’ve done it. It’s just a unique pain. Each contraction would mean 3 pushes of 10 seconds each. The first push was okay, the second was not so okay, and the third was awful each and every time. I just had to remember that this is what will get my baby out.
My contractions slowed down after about 20 minutes and I thought that it was really weird. It would have worried me if I didn’t appreciate the rest so much. I would have as much as a 2-3 minute break at times. This would almost put me to sleep. I’ve never felt so much relief in my life and I mean that wholeheartedly. I would lay with my eyes closed and feel like I was in a different world from everyone around me even though I heard all of their conversations–the nurses and doctor were talking about snowy roads in North Georgia at some point in time. How do I remember that? The rest was so good for my body and gave me the energy to keep pushing hard when the contractions came back.
Towards the very end I could feel that I was getting close and my body was doing it’s best to get her out, so I was doing my best too. I kept pushing after everyone stopped counting because my body told me to. Alex told me that I got “very flexible” towards the end…whatever that means. My body just knew what to do.
Dr. Anthony & Alex coached me wonderfully and the next thing I knew I saw Kennedy’s head. The burning pain stopped and it was as if it was all over. That was the end of the terrible pain. Complete relief. There was my daughter–I saw her face and wondered who the heck that was because she looked nothing like I had imagined. She looked so BIG and she had the chubbiest cheeks! It took a couple of minutes more to get the rest of her out, but that part didn’t hurt at all. They place my 8lb 15oz baby on my chest and I was just relieved.
I had expectations that I would cry when I gave birth because I feel like every video or picture I’ve seen of birth the mom and dad are both crying. That and I cry at almost everything. But I didn’t cry. Not even watery eyes. I was too excited and extremely relieved! It was over and Kennedy was here. Big and healthy! And very swollen and very red. But she was here!
Another unexpected part of delivery was that it took my doctor 45 minutes to stitch me up afterwards. I had a first degree tear so I needed sutures. I was also given a liter of IV fluids with Pitocin in it to help my uterus contract and to slow my bleeding. I was shaking so hard for about an hour after she arrived from all the adrenaline my body produced, but I wasn’t in any pain and that’s all that mattered to me! I was just ready to get myself cleaned up and close my legs! As soon as I was stitched up I was able to walk myself to the bathroom and clean up while my bed was being changed and reverted back to a regular bed.
After the fact — My wants vs. the hospital’s standard protocols:
1. I didn’t want to be on a monitor during my labor after an initial check.
I was told that Dr. Anthony could write an order for me to not have continuous monitoring. This never happened, unfortunately. Dr. Anthony asked for them to get the remote monitor so I didn’t have to be on a “leash” and could maneuver myself better, but the L&D floor was so busy that it just never happened in time. Next pregnancy I might just take them off myself, honestly. Tell the nurse to chart “patient refused” and let me be after I’ve had an initial 30 minutes of monitoring and ensuring everything is okay. They really got in the way of my pacing and posturing through contractions.
2. I didn’t want an IV.
I knew going to the hospital that I wasn’t going to fight over this one even though I really didn’t want it. I thought it would be too uncomfortable and would bother me during labor, but surprisingly it wasn’t at all. They had to draw blood for admission labs anyways, so I just kept it hep-locked. They did want me on continuous IV fluids, but to that I politely refused. Remember, you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to. You’re not a prisoner when you’re having a baby. If you’re truly educated about each decision, then feel free to execute your will. But be mindful of the nurses too–it does no good to frustrate them and complicate their workload, so always be polite and understanding. It’s not you vs. them. They’re there to help you, and yes, they’re probably used to doing things a certain way, but hopefully they’ll be understanding of your desire to do things a little differently so long as everything is going smoothly. I applaud my nurse for being so understanding of my desires.
So there you have it. I survived a natural birth and I am not afraid to admit that I am very proud of myself. I know we don’t get blue ribbons or trophy’s for these kinds of things, but I want one. I will also admit that I don’t know if I would have made it had there been any kind of complications or a longer labor. I was blessed with a very fast active labor! Would I do it again? I think so, but I’m not sure I’ll really know until I’m in that situation. Did you feel a “high”? No, I didn’t feel a high like some women talk about, but I did feel tremendously empowered!
I’m not a natural birth “pusher”. You either want to do it or you don’t. To each his own. In the end, a healthy baby is a healthy baby and that’s the goal! This was just my story. Thanks for reading!