Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A Thriving Birth Story

I apologize for my delay in getting this update to you all, but as you can imagine life with a newborn is quite the adjustment! A fantastic one, yes, but very tiring and often confusing. Nevertheless, here I am to tell you all about how BK made his appearance into our lives!

Disclaimer: this post describes a natural birth, so while I won't be including every gory detail, it's still not the G-rated version... so if you aren't familiar/comfortable with birth stories please proceed with caution!

BK was "due" August 15th, and I was SO sure he'd be late being that it was my first baby and I was having such a great time being pregnant. Plus, it sure didn't feel like he was ready to show up, so we were pretty surprised when my water broke at 10:30 pm on August 4th - 10 days before his due date! It was a Sunday, I had gone antique shopping with Em that morning, and was just cuddling up to TH in bed, about to fall asleep when I felt that unmistakable gush. I was simultaneously excited and disappointed - I knew I had a long journey ahead and I was already so tired! My contractions didn't start right away, so I managed to get a few hours of sleep (poor TH was too frazzled to get any) and when I woke up we started timing my contractions as I began my HypnoBirthing relaxation techniques.

natural labor and birth affirmations hypnobirth
My birth affirmations - some are from HB but some are from elsewhere. I had been listening to the HB ones for weeks leading up to the 'big day' but it helped to have them printed out and included in my birth binder (yes I'm that crazy).
Once my contractions were getting closer together (and fairly intense) we decided to head to the hospital at around 5:30am. Our doula and my mom met us there after we checked in and settled into the room. From there my labor progressed pretty normally, although I began to have very intense back labor. I was determined to stick to my "natural" birth plan so I just focused on breathing and began vocalizing through each contraction however felt best. I tried a few different positions but moving at all seemed to be more painful - trips to the bathroom (with TH's help) were pretty challenging! My doula focused on massaging my lower back and applying counter-pressure to my hips during each contraction as they got pretty severe, all the while calmly reminding me that I was doing great and to relax and breathe. TH was also amazing at giving lots of encouragement and kisses, along with letting me lean or hang onto him as needed. I loved having my mom there too, even though she mostly just sat quietly in the corner or ran out to my waiting in-laws to give updates... her maternal presence was calming and she also helped focus my efforts with light massage or subbing in for TH if I needed someone to lean on during a contraction. Not to mention, I was actually really glad she could be there to witness my son being born, as it was a powerful moment for all of us that I wanted to share with her.

natural labor and birth preferences birth plan
My birth preference sheet, I think the staff appreciated having all this information upfront and in one place!
Once I got to 8-9 cm I started to doubt myself and my ability to get through any more contractions as they became soooo intense! I was also just beyond exhaustively tired... I remember sitting on my birthing ball and almost falling off in between each contraction because I literally fell asleep the second they were over. So, I think being overtired was what made it worse (although back labor is not fun) but the MASSIVE difference, I learned, is that this sort of pain isn't BAD. I knew nothing was wrong, and that I wasn't going to die, so I just needed to breathe through each contraction the best I could.

I did start to get a little worried that the contractions were SO intense but I wasn't feeling that urge to push, like I've heard so many women describe. That was when my glorious midwife decided I should just try pushing anyway. I ended up pushing for 3.5 hours, which is about an hour longer than I "should've" been allowed to push before getting a c-section. My contractions were pretty far apart at that point (about 6 minutes), which is what made it take so long although I was able to sleep between each one. BK wasn't in distress, and I was making progress, so my midwife blessedly wanted to stick to my birth plan as much as we could. I was so grateful that she did, and of course when I heard whispers of a c-section I went into high gear to get BK out! I wasn't going to go through 22 hours of labor only to get cut open if I could help it!!!

The pushing part actually felt better than just sitting around breathing through contractions - I was putting those contractions to work finally and I think that was a relief. There was some pressure when he finally emerged, but honestly it wasn't as bad as those last few contractions. I had a 2nd degree tear because his little shoulder got stuck, and some hemorrhaging which was quickly taken care of with meds... but there were a few other "after care" procedures that were a little unexpected! Things you wish people told you before you got pregnant (if you are curious about the specifics, shoot us an email and I'd be happy to go into much more detail)...

Of course nothing compared to holding little BK in my arms after all of that effort. When they handed him to me as he was born, I remember thinking "holy crap he is big" but he was just 7 lbs 14 oz, which is still pretty average. I had to tickle his feet to get him to cry really hard, to make sure his lungs were clear and healthy. Otherwise we just stared at each other. I also hadn't committed to a name yet, because I needed to meet him first, so while I looked at him I asked TH "does he look like a Braden? I think he does". TH agreed.

Just minutes old!
And that's how little Braden came into this world - at 8:21 pm on August 5th, 2013 after 22 hours of labor (from the time my water broke). We stayed in the hospital until the next evening, and I was SO relieved to go home. I got NO rest in the hospital, between the baby and all the nurses coming in to bug us about something! We actually had fantastic nurses and I was very happy with the care we got, but still, I just wanted to be home. Makes me even more curious about a home birth, but of course I need to focus on the baby I just had, before making plans for the next one (if we decide on a next one)!

I am very proud of myself for going au-natural. My doula said I did a fantastic job, and while I'm not sure I believe her (I'm trying Marilee!!!) I do feel like I really can accomplish anything. It was the hardest thing I've ever gone through, physically, but I did it, and I really wish more women would believe in themselves and give it a try! I can't emphasize how helpful hiring a doula was, especially for my first baby. My recovery has been pretty easy too, which I feel like is thanks to going without meds. Stitches in my hoo-ha are never fun but I think I've already healed up and it's only been 4 weeks (they say it takes 6).

Of course, how can this end result be anything but extremely blissful...

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  1. Congrats on the birth of your son. I have two of my own and they are the greatest blessings I have ever received.

    It is awesome that you were able to birth him naturally, just as you desired. I commend you for encouraging women to be clear and specific about their desires and having help advocating for those desires when necessary. It is also great to encourage women, who want to, to deliver naturally and to explain your own experience and why you would recommend a doula. It seems though that you make the assumption of women who chose to receive pain medication (via epidural, etc.) that it is because they don't believe they can deliver naturally. This may be the case for some women but not all. For thousands of years women have been delivering babies naturally, of course we are capable of doing it but that doesn't mean every woman desires to, nor is she made less of a mother by this choice.

    I know your intention was not to offend and rather to simply share your story, which I, like many, loved hearing. I felt compelled to comment only to give you added thought on this topic because surely with a newborn you have lots of time for existential thinking. :)

    1. Hi Sarah! Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your very thoughtful comment! It was never my intention to offend, so I apologize if I did. You are right that I simply wanted to share my positive natural birthing experience, because I know women are inundated with negative ones. I do not judge other women for their choices, as I hold a woman's right to choose in VERY high regard, however I do take issue with choices that are made out of fear without correct information. Women in this country have become socialized to believe that birth is always unbearably painful, which I imagine is why the epidural rate in this country is close to 70%. The problem I see with this is, that the more medical interventions you receive during labor and delivery, the more likely you are to receive other interventions including a c-section. The fact that we have the technology to deliver babies safely through a c-section surgery is a blessing, to be sure, but many times it is unnecessary for a HEALTHY woman and baby (at the onset of labor). My other concern, is that epidurals and pain medication have become so commonplace in american births, and women may not be considering (or even being told in the hospital) the very real risks and side effects of these choices. I understand the desire to have a pain-free labor (trust me, it was no picnic) but the potential risks that meant for me and my baby made it the very UNdesirable choice. All I ask, from our Thriving mamas, is that you all seriously look into the risks and benefits of medication during labor, as well as alternative methods for pain management (such as hypnosis or breathing techniques), and if you've done that and still want the epi, go for it.

      This is obviously a topic I could go on and on about, so instead I will direct you to the film "The Business of Being Born": http://www.thebusinessofbeingborn.com/

      Thanks again!

      Strive to Thrive,

  2. Liked your article. This is some interesting story and you had been strong to go through those phases. It is best to go for practically best pregnancy planning
    and it is very effective too.


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