Today marks one month since Oliver Lee entered this world. I am not quite sure how that happened but I am so grateful for every single moment (even the hard ones) with him. It is amazing how someone so little can change your entire world. For 10 months, you prepare for the moment you get to meet your baby. But honestly, nothing will prepare you for that moment. And those hours (or days) leading up to it make that moment so so worth it.
I knew from the second I got pregnant that I wanted an all natural, unmedicated birth. From my past experiences with surgeries (there have been 9 since 2008), medication and my body don’t go well together. In fact, drugs tend to never work and I always have adverse reactions to them. So an epidural was not in my birth plan. While many warned me about the pain of natural childbirth, I knew deep down that my body could withstand it. Mind over matter right? I spoke with friends who had gone all natural, I read Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth and I hired a doula. The more I researched and spoke with Brittany (my doula) of Frederick Moms and Doulas, the more empowered I felt that this was something I could do.
So are you ready for the birth story? Here we go…
At my 36 week appointment I was 1cm dilated and 50% effaced. I thought this was definitely a sign that I was going to go into labor early. I laugh at this thought now. At my 37 week appointment, there was no change. Still no change at my 38 week appointment. I had been having a lot of cramping during this week and some contractions here and there but nothing was progressing and I was getting super discouraged. If you know me, you know I am a planner. I want to know when things are going to happen and how everything is going to go down. This made the end of pregnancy really hard for me. It was a true test of patience and I had a lot more patience to be tested.
I was doing everything possible to kickstart this labor: chiropractor, acupuncture, walking (even walking with one foot on a curb and one down because I had heard this could help), eating pineapple, taking primrose oil, ingesting Young Living’s Clary Sage Essential Oil. Everyone says that baby will come when he/she is ready and I now realize that is in fact 110% true, but I needed to try everything because I was just so done.
On May 3rd, at my 39 week appointment, I had my membranes swept and this seemed to help things progress as I lost my mucous plug over the next 3 days. On Sunday night (5/6), I started having contractions that for the first time were timeable. They were about 10 minutes apart throughout the night. I woke up on Monday morning and my contractions had stopped. I headed to my chiropractor and got adjusted. My right hip was completely out of alignment so once he popped that back in place, I thought maybe things would start progressing again. Nothing all day. Monday evening, my contractions started again. They were 7-8 minutes apart throughout the night. I was supposed to go to acupuncture on Tuesday morning but in the middle of the night I emailed her to tell her I was having contractions and thought labor was impending. However, I was tricked yet again…I woke up Tuesday morning and my contractions had stopped. Nothing all day except for a few cramps here and there. Tuesday evening, my contractions started again. They were 8-9 minutes apart throughout the night. I woke up on Wednesday, so exhausted, 40 weeks pregnant and no baby.
Prodromal labor. It is truly the most frustrating thing – both mentally and physically. It is so rough but the only thing that was getting me through the contractions and sleepless nights that weren’t progressing to anything was the fact that Brittany had said most people who have prodromal labor have fast births. Could this be the silver lining of prodromal labor? One could only hope.
I was continuing to do all.the.things to try and get this baby out of me but he wasn’t hearing my eviction notice all too well. Brittany told me that birth was a marathon so I needed to rest as much as I could. Given the fact that I hadn’t been sleeping for days because of my nightly contractions, I really tried to rest all day on Wednesday. Wednesday night the contractions came back. I was so exhausted by timing that I just didn’t even attempt to time them. This baby was never going to come out of me.
I woke up on Thursday morning still pregnant but ready for my 40 week appointment. Josh came with me to my appointment, as I had an ultrasound scheduled for 9:30am. All looked well and that was a relief. I told Josh that he didn’t have to wait for my appointment with the doctor because it was just a routine check and I would call him after. They took my blood pressure and it was slightly elevated. I got checked and I was 2cm dilated and 70% effaced. I asked for another sweep because the word induction at 41 weeks was brought up and that was definitely not in my birth plan. After the sweep, I started feeling some serious cramping. The doctor left and returned and told me to lay back and try to relax, they wanted to check my blood pressure again. While it went down slightly, she was a little concerned by it so wanted me to go to labor and delivery triage to be monitored. I immediately texted Josh, who of course felt bad for leaving me and offered to come back to the hospital. I told him everything would be fine and I would keep him posted.
After checking in at triage and waiting for a little bit, I went back to a room and got hooked up to monitors, had my blood drawn and started feeling contractions. After snooping at the monitor, I noticed that my contractions were 2-3 minutes apart. The on call doctor came in and asked if I was feeling the contractions and I said yes, but they were tolerable. She told me that my blood pressure was completely normal and all the blood work came back normal so they were going to discharge me. It was 12:30pm and I was starving. I drove myself to Balducci’s Market to get some lunch.
I got home around 1:30pm and ate my lunch. Roxie was crying to go outside so I took her for a quick walk. When I came back inside, I got on the birth ball and started rocking back and forth. It was 2:58pm and Josh called me to tell me he was coming home and asked if I wanted him to stop to pick up coffee. Two minutes later, while still on the phone with him and on the ball, I heard this POP noise, almost like a rubber band snapping. And a gush of water flooded my yoga pants. It was crazy.
Me: OMG, my water just broke.
Josh: Seriously? OMG, he is coming. Should I still stop and get us coffee?
Me: Ummm no, I think you should come home!
I went upstairs to change my wet clothes and called Brittany. At this point my contractions were definitely getting stronger. Brittany stayed on the phone with me to time a few of them. I remember her saying “ok, they are pretty much on top of each other. Do you want to continue laboring at home for a bit longer or do you want to leave now?” My response was: “let’s go. But do you have your camera?” When I think about this I laugh. Only a photographer in labor would ask a photographer if she had her camera packed. Oh yes friends, my doula was also my birth photographer (Brittany DeFrehn Photography)!
Josh walked through the door and I told him to grab our bags, we were leaving! We put Roxie in the crate and I texted our dog walker who was going to doggy sit for her. The car ride to the hospital seemed to take forever (less than 20 minutes). There is no comfortable position in a car when you are in labor. When we got to the hospital, everyone was moving at snail speed. On the labor and delivery floor, while waiting for Brittany and to head back to triage, I paced back and forth and then ended up in the middle of the waiting room on my birth ball moving back and forth with each contraction. You lose all sense of caring about anything.
Finally at 4:30pm we went back into a triage room and I was so happy to see the same nurse from earlier who allowed us to break the rules and let both Josh and Brittany come back into the tiny triage room. I was also happy to see the same on call doctor who I really liked (and had seen a few times during my pregnancy). They checked me and I was 4cm dilated. Contractions were strong and back to back. My water kept gushing and bloody show had arrived. Things were getting super real. Brittany applied Clary Sage to my ankles and that started ramping things up even more.
Around 5:45pm, I was wheeled to a labor and delivery room. Fun fact: this was the same room that Brittany had delivered one of her babies in. That was definitely a good sign.
I was squatting, rocking back and forth on the ball, holding onto the bed, hopping onto the bed and leaning on the back of it, just trying to find a position to get me through these back to back contractions.
Brittany coached me through every contraction. She applied counter pressure to my back. She doused me in Peace & Calming Essential Oil. The nurse said it was the best smelling labor and delivery room she had been in. There were no breaks between contractions and I remember looking at the clock thinking I don’t know how much longer I can do this. Josh kept reassuring me that I was doing great. I remember looking at Brittany and saying I don’t know how much longer I can do this and that’s when she said: “remember what I told you. When you tell me you can’t do it any longer, I promise you are close.” I got checked again and was a 9.
The worst feeling was me wanting to push and them telling me I couldn’t because I wasn’t fully dilated. Another bad feeling was me hearing that baby’s heart rate was dropping. All I could think of was they were going to wheel me in for a c-section. The nurse (who I loved) was very concerned about this. The doctor was less concerned. However, they did feel that I should get some fluids to not put baby in distress so I complied (but I will tell you, I made sure they weren’t giving me drugs). Unfortunately I had been poked and prodded all day (you should have seen one of my bruises) and my veins weren’t cooperating so it took multiple people to get the IV in.
I asked to be checked again and I was a 9 1/2. About 5 minutes later I made one noise and the nurse told my doctor to check me, she knew I was a 10. And hallelujah I was. I had gone from 4cm to 10cm in 4 1/2 hours. I was ready to push. Let me tell you, pushing is HARD! While it was such a relief to actually be able to push and know that I was one step closer to meeting baby, it was exhausting. I would push for 3 rounds of 10 seconds and each and then rest. I kept asking if I was making progress and the response was “we can see the head but then it retracts.” All that work for the head to just go back in – what a bummer. Finally, after about 50 minutes, my doctor told me to reach down and feel the head and that was by far the biggest motivating moment. I can do this. He is almost here. A few more pushes and I felt that Ring of Fire (oh my word that is real and really painful) and then…
At 10:01pm, Oliver entered the world. 7lbs 3 oz and 21 inches long.
They immediately put him on me and this image says it all.
After 7 hours of natural unmedicated labor (YES, I DID IT!!!), he was here and absolutely perfect! I delivered the placenta and Josh cut the cord after it finished pulsating.
Unfortunately I had a second degree tear in two places. Getting stitched up with only lidocaine that didn’t take in all the places was not fun at all. Like I know I had just birthed a baby which was way more painful, but that fish hook and stitching was awful. The only thing that got me through was holding Ollie the entire time.
Brittany continued documenting our first moments as a family of three.
She helped me breastfeed for the first time and then I told her to go home! I am truly forever thankful for her. With her help, I was able to have the birth I had hoped for. Without a doubt, hiring her as my doula was the best decision I made.
Around 1:45am, we were finally transferred to a private room. I didn’t sleep at all. The adrenaline and hormones kept me wide awake and I couldn’t stop staring at the bassinet beside me.
Welcome to the world Oliver Lee, you are so loved and I am so thankful I get to be your Mama.