One of Deb’s most recent clients, and one of the last she’ll serve in Texas has shared her birth story with us for the blog! Hope you all enjoy reading how this mama faced her fears and found her power!
It’s been two months since my child’s birth and I still find myself overwhelmed by the power of my body. The power of natural instinct. The power of breathing. The power of birthing with confidence. The power of birthing without fear.
Birthing. Without. Fear. That is something I never imagined I could experience. In fact, I couldn’t really imagine birth. All I knew is that I had to get a baby out of my body somehow and I knew there was something magical by the name, epidural and I wanted it in my life.
My pregnancy went very smoothly and I carefully avoided researching birth. Being a military family, we found ourselves settling in at a new duty station in my third trimester. I had decided to deliver on base at Fort Hood, TX.
Suddenly I was about to be in my last month of pregnancy. I knew I wanted a doula on my birth team, but after an expensive car repair it seemed out of budget until my in-laws agreed to cover the cost as a gift to our growing family. I was so excited, but still not ready to face how to get this baby out of me! I still did not understand what a birth experience was or why it was important.
At the consult meeting with Deb, we clicked and I knew she would get me through what I needed as our doula. But I thought she was crazy when she suggested we focus on a natural birth (because of my fear of needles/IVs) and I begin practicing hypnobirthing.
By the end of our first official prenatal meeting I was starting to accept that my greatest fear in the birthing process was the use of IVs, being connected to monitors, having a catheter and the possible need of a C-section. I realized if I wanted to have a fearless birth, I needed to have an alternative pain management plan and let go of getting an epidural; the one thing I thought I had wanted. We talked about the possible IV pain meds available to me and only one of them appealed to me, but it would only make me not care about any pain I felt.
The next day I had to seriously address what was more important to me; a fearless birth or one where I may feel less pain?
I decided that as a last resort, such as becoming exhausted, I would resort to the pain meds by IV and possibly an epidural. But first I wanted to try to birth naturally. I wanted a fearless birth and I was so thankful I had a supportive doula every step of the way because the closer my due date got the more I felt like the birth I desired may not be in my future.
The following weeks I worked really hard to prepare. I read books and science based articles about all the birthing interventions. We finalized the birth plan. I practiced hypnobirthing techniques daily and was in contact with my doula asking questions.
After my 37-week appointment I texted my doula with the good news that I could be under the care of a midwife the remainder of my pregnancy and my doctor had added a note to my chart to let the L&D staff know I did not want an IV. I also let her know that because I had two high BP readings before 20 weeks, induction was recommended at 39+6. Deb kindly called me and asked me how I felt and what would make me feel okay with an induction if it was needed and we talked through all my options.
Ultimately, I believed those high BP readings were false due to my anxiety when going to the doctor and all the blood work seemed to support this. I decided to decline my first induction date and asked to go in for NST and a 40+2 appointment. At this appointment I had my membranes stripped and was already 3cm dilated. Within 35 hours I was in labor.
Part Two – The Birth
On January 6th I woke up with strong contractions at 5:45am. I decided to play my Enya soundtrack and bounce on my ball watching my husband sleep. My contractions progressed and I tracked them on my phone and my husband woke up asking if he could help. I let him know we’d probably be going to the hospital and having a baby so he should load the car, shower and eat while he could.
I decided it was a good time to text Deb our doula and let her know I was having contractions that seemed to be the real deal. To me it felt like strong menstrual cramps. She let me know she had some things to prep for a family reunion and a class she was teaching later that day and she’d keep in touch with me and see how things progressed.
Around 11am I tried relaxing in a bath, but it made me feel like I needed to go to the bathroom and sitting down didn’t feel very good, but the water was relaxing.
Deb, arrived around 12:30 pm. My contractions were 3 minutes apart and we decided it was time to go to the hospital, 30 miles away. I felt calm and prepared. I sat in the front seat listening to a high energy CD, but the last 5 minutes of the car ride were terrible. Being stuck in a seated position wasn’t any fun and this was the only time during labor I cried.
We were admitted to L&D just after 1pm and I was 7cm. I was so lucky to be in the care of amazing midwives who trusted me and gave me the natural birth I dreamed of. I had no IVs, no hep lock, no pain meds, and I drank water as much as I could. The admittance nurse was nervous when I declined the hep lock and the midwife came to talk to me, I was prepared for this and let her know I understood the risks and wanted to decline. It was a major win for me when she accepted this.
When we got to my room I shared my birth plan and everyone on my birthing team let me know my requests were within reason. Unfortunately, I had to stay on monitors the whole time because baby’s heart rate was in the 180s. Luckily, I was able to get it down to a normal rate by hydrating, breathing, and trying new positions. Had his heart rate stayed elevated they would have wanted to give me an IV since dehydration is often the cause of this.
Labor progressed slowly and as I began to feel the urge to push I was not very efficient. I spent two hours working to get baby out, a very exhausting experience. I tried many positions like bouncing on a ball, using a peanut ball, using the push bar, being on hands and knees, swaying with my husband and I made it to the bathroom to empty my bladder.
At 7:05 pm I felt a big gush as my waters broke. Over the next hour I felt the ring of fire five times as baby crowned. I was very tired and it took everything in me to get him out. I gave birth on my hands and knees on the bed and baby was passed up to me through my legs so I could hold him. My baby was finally earthside!
After I birthed the placenta I had some blood clots and a hemorrhage. My husband took the baby to do skin to skin and he had his first poop on him! I needed one tiny figure eight stitch for my only first-degree tear. I give credit to a mantra I learned from a book I read and used for every contraction while in active labor. In my head I’d say, “I am” and out loud I’d moan “Huge” as I exhaled. I envisioned myself being large enough for my baby to be born.
Because of the hemorrhage I ended up needing interventions to stop the bleeding and needing a hep lock. This confirmed for me that foregoing them for my birth was the right thing. I really did not enjoy it at all and found the hep lock to be very distracting and inhibiting.
It’s taken me some time to process my birth. I felt very disconnected from the pregnancy, birth, and baby’s arrival. Having to hand baby off when I wanted to be holding him was very hard. But I’m so thankful for everything that went so well for us and how healthy we are.
My husband and Deb at my side without a break the whole day to make sure I had everything I needed and to help ease the intensity. Our Doula was our support, our advocate, and provided me with endless science based educational materials in the final weeks of pregnancy. She opened my heart and mind to allowing birth to be an experience and one that I wanted. Having a Doula was the most amazing gift I’ve ever received and I’m so thankful my in-laws gave us this experience. Today I am so proud to be a woman and to join all those who birthed a child before me.