My Birth Story

This is my story, in detail, about my journey to a natural, un-medicated birth. I had this desire early on, and with a lot of hard work, preparation, and study (lots and lots of reading and researching) I was finally able to achieve just that!  I promise you, that if I can do this, so can any woman with this desire (emergency complications aside).  Women's bodies are made to give birth, naturally. 

Baby One:  My Cesarean

I had no idea what I was getting myself into.  I was 23 when I gave birth to my first son.  I knew which hospital I wanted to give birth in and picked the first doctor that I could find on my insurance that delivered at this location.  I knew I wanted to have my baby naturally but other than that, I had no tools.  My husband and I took all the “birthing” classes that the hospital offered, which were exactly as the Bradley book describes, which meant they were more about hospital procedures than anything else.  I had red flags with my OB but was nervous about standing up for myself and maybe a little too trusting.  We didn’t have any discussion about the birthing procedures until my week 36 appointment, his rule, and at that time when I asked about medication and natural birth he let me know that he allows his patients to receive their epidurals earlier than most.  When I explained that I wanted an un-medicated natural childbirth, he asked my why.  He also told me that in his experience, women with a size 5 ½ shoe and smaller typically ended up with a cesarean.  I was devastated and a confused.  I’m small, only 5 feet and my shoe size is 5 ½, but then how did my Grandmother (4’10 ½) give birth naturally to my father…and so on down the line?  At 36 weeks I was way too nervous to change doctors so late.

I had read the very first introductory story in “Husband-Coached Child Birth” while I was at work and just began to cry, knowing that was how I wanted my birth to be.  I had my husband pick me up the book that night and I called around to see if we could get in a class.  This was around 8 months of being pregnant.  I only had one woman who said she would teach us so late but she would charge extra and we were very tight with money as it was, not to mention my husband worked weekends and her class was on Saturday.  I never got past the first few chapters that pregnancy.

So it goes…

I had been having Braxton Hicks contractions for a few weeks but didn’t know what they were.  I kept waking up one night, several times, I think I counted about 6, needing to use the restroom, not too much of a surprise, but each time I sat up, I thought I felt a little water come out.  I put a menstrual pad on the first time, and each time it continued.  I also noticed that my stomach felt tight but not painful or sore at all.  I woke up that morning and told my husband how weird it was.  When I told him about my stomach tightening, and then let him feel since it was still happening in the morning, he told me he thought they were contractions.

I went to the restroom as my husband was leaving for work and I lost my mucus plug.  I called my doctor’s office shortly after.  My doctor’s assistants told me to time a few “tightenings” and call back.  I did and they were about 10-12 minutes apart.  They told me I should go to the hospital to get checked out and see if my water broke.

I was checked and they confirmed at the hospital, with a swab, that my water had broken (even though very slightly) and that I was in early labor.  Since my water had broken, we were checked in right away.

I brought in my birth plan and handed it to the nurse who was very sweet and said she would try her best to help us get that birth.

Some time passed and I was informed that my doctor wanted to start me on Pitocin.  I asked the nurse if he said I need to be on Pitocin.  She called him back and told me that he said I needed to be on Pitocin.  Not knowing any better, or my rights, I agreed.  The contractions got worse but they were not able to give me enough Pitocin to produce good, strong contractions because every time they turned up the drip, my son’s heart rate would drop.  We did that for another 12 hours or so, I consented to an epidural, hoping it would make me relax and open me up (I was dilated at a 1 this whole time).  I got a few hours sleep and only progressed to a 3.  They put an internal monitor on the baby’s head, broke my water, and by the end I was only allowed to be in one position at all times (no walking, no rolling over, no ball…)because it’s the only way the baby’s heart rate looked good.  After 34 hours of labor, my doctor scheduled a cesarean and my son was born at 2:35pm.

The anesthesia they gave me for the cesarean made me shake, for quite a while, even after the surgery was complete.   I remember seeing my baby for a few moments, I don’t remember if I touched him, and then my husband took him out of the room until I was reunited with them shortly.  I remember not wanting to hold him because I was shaking so bad.  Luckily I had a great recovery nurse who really encouraged skin to skin and laid him on my chest.

I was recovering on pain meds, unable to sit up by myself, in tons of pain, I could barely walk, it was awful.  Having your first baby is hard enough.  Going through something like this, particularly for a young first time mother, was just traumatic.  It’s ok though…birth number 2 gets better. 

Baby Two:  My VBAC 

I knew before getting pregnant this time that I wanted to take the Bradley classes and have a natural birth…only problem was, my husband just got his first assignment in the Air Force in Germany.  I did my research though and found one teacher who was a little over an hour away.  I called her immediately and got really lucky.  She would be moving back to the United States soon and was wondering if she was even going to be teaching a class before she left.  It had to be an accelerated class, only 8 weeks I think, and then she had to pack.

My husband and I made the trip each week most of time, sometimes it was just me, and I dove into the class material.  We got lucky and were able to conceive before the classes ended.  The student workbook was great, our teacher was wonderful, I was just grateful to be able to take the class in Germany!

This time I did a lot of laboring at home.  I had strong contractions that I had to focus on and relax through at random intervals of about 8-27 minutes apart, always varying, not consistent, for 2 days.  Two nights of not sleeping more than 27 minutes at a time and waking up more painfully as the days progressed.  I think it was a combination of increasing strength in contractions and tiredness in myself.  I had gone to my regularly scheduled OB appointment and they confirmed that I was in labor, but they let me go back home.  Yay Germany!!!  They are all for natural birth.  That was a day or so into it.  After laboring for the 2 days, I called my Bradley teacher, who was now living in Florida and 6 hours behind us.  She was great to talk to but it was hard for her to pinpoint where I was at in my labor.  She said it might be good to go get checked out.  As soon as I hung up the phone my contractions started coming every 6 minutes apart.  We called a friend to come and be with our son and headed to the hospital, about 30 minutes away.  The ride was awful.  Germany is full of twisting, winding roads, and the car was so uncomfortable.

We were checked when we came in, and monitored for 30 minutes, I was dilated to a 3 and the baby was doing great.  We were shown to our recovery room, since the midwife said I wouldn’t want to labor in the delivery room forever.  I wish I had been in my right mind to just do it though, because our recovery room had a mother with her husband, their brand new baby, and a visiting grandmother.  There is nothing worse than laboring around people you don’t know and looking a new baby, thinking, “I’m so jealous she’s already done with this”.

My husband was great this time.  He was encouraging and helpful and joking.  We tried the shower…really uncomfortable set-up, I wanted a tub.  My husband tried to encourage me to walk but my legs were so tired they were already shaking with holding myself in any position during contractions, so I refused.  It didn’t help that the midwife said she was sure I would have my baby this night, “by 8:00pm, definitely” so I was looking at the clock all the time, thinking, if I can just make it until 8pm!  That time came and went and she told me that she thought I be getting too tired and to let her give me a small “local” shot in the bum that would help me get rest during contractions.  I needed encouragement at this point not drug offerings.  I couldn’t get it out of my head though and I didn’t last much longer before consenting.  My husband was disappointed but I felt defeated already.  At one point I had told the midwife I wanted to get into the birthing tub but she didn’t know what I was saying, since she spoke mostly German, and I gave up after a contraction so I could try to focus.

I got the medicine and headed back to our room to try to rest.  I made it through three contractions a little easier, and my water broke.  So much for trying to relax.  The contractions immediately increased in intensity and we walked back to get checked.  The midwife confirmed it had broken and then went on to tell me about how much easier it would be with an epidural.  My husband and I talked for a moment and against his advice I told her I wanted it.

My husband left to get food since there would be a wait to get the epidural and I encouraged him to go get something since he was tired and definitely hungry.  They didn’t let him back in however for when I received the epidural.  I didn’t even know they had him just standing outside.  I could have done without that.

I will say that this epidural was completely different from my first.  There was rest but no sleep.  I could feel everything but no pain.  I could still move my limbs and I was able to breath with my contractions.  I used Bradley for this.  I focused on breathing comfortably through each contraction and thought about opening up and the baby coming down.  I was fearful though, thinking that was just going to turn into another cesarean.  The midwives were great though and didn’t use any Pitocin for the first hour or so, until my contractions started to be affected by the epidural.  I was scared but the Pitocin worked and my baby did ok.  In 20 minutes I went from a 3 to a 6…I was exhausted and unable to let my body relax before but now I could.

An hour or so later the midwives said that the baby’s heart rate was slow because of the pain medicine I had a while before and they were monitoring that.  Once again I thought, another cesarean.  Another couple of hours and I told the midwife I thought I needed to push.  She checked me and I was a 10.  I couldn’t believe this was happening.  I was about to have a vaginal birth.  A few pushes and he was out.  I was still in shock.  He was healthy and so cute, skin-to-skin right away, they didn’t cut the cord until it finished pulsing, it was amazing.  I could sit up on my own, I walked to the bathroom an hour later, and we left the hospital 8 hours after delivery, which would have only been about 4 but I wanted the newborn pictures they come around and take.

I walked all around the house that night, amazed that I could just move on my own and take care of my older son.  It was not the natural birth I had wanted but it was amazing and the next step to having that natural birth.  He was my VBAC baby.

I think if I had a doula at this birth we could have made this a natural birth.  There were some clear communication gaps during the laboring process with the German midwives.  We had looked but were unable to find one in our location.

Baby Three:  My Home Birth

My Home Birth Baby.  We got pregnant in Germany and found out where we would be moving around 3 months of being pregnant.  We moved when I was 6 months pregnant.

 I knew I had to do my research about the hospitals this time.  I called and spoke with the midwives at the only hospital in town.  Apparently, even though I had a successful VBAC, I wouldn’t even be allowed to meet with them, I would have to meet with an OBGYN.  I was informed that it was very rare that I would be allowed to give birth naturally since I had already had a cesarean, even though I had the VBAC.  That was enough for me, so I started searching for information on Home Births.

I actually called the closest Bradley Instructor I could find, who was located in South Dakota.  She posted some stuff on her facebook page and was able to get me in touch with some doulas and birth support groups in North Dakota.  After researching a ton and speaking to several women about their own personal birth experiences, both in the hospital and in their homes, I made a decision to meet the main midwife there who does Home Births.  I was a little apprehensive about it.  Both times I had some kind of intervention, could I even give birth on my own?

My husband was nervous as well.  We wanted to make a very informed decision about this.  We met her and loved her.  I asked lots of questions, including about any fatalities or complications with mother and baby.  I also got in touch with a doula, who actually had her baby at home with this midwife.  I knew I wanted a doula this time, and what a great thing to have…especially for a Home Birth!  My husband was able to do everything he needed to do with our older boys, like feed them & read scriptures before bed…he was even able to leave and get me food.  It was so nice.  We also had his parents there, which was a great help.

I had been having real contractions (meaning completely different than Braxton Hicks) for a few days.  I even had a few times where they got consistent and closer together and then stopped.  I guess they call that false labor.  Again, I hadn’t been sleeping very well, between having contractions and being so anxious (I was a week overdue when he was born) about the birth, it was getting to me.  I finally called my midwife and doula and asked them to come.  They were a two hour drive each, coming from opposite directions, so I was afraid of asking them to come too early, and they would either be there for a long time or have to drive all the way home again.

My doula arrived around 2pm and the midwife came at 3pm.  They watched me for a few contractions and asked some questions and then I asked my midwife to please check me.  Nervous, but curious, she checked and said I was a 5/6 and could stretch to a 7.  WOW!  All these crazy contractions were showing some physical signs of progress this time!  I was ecstatic…rejuvenated!  I sent a text message to my friend and mom and turned off my phone.

I started walking up and down stairs to try to get things moving, squatting during contractions since she said my bag of waters was bulging.  We took a walk, I ate and drank what I wanted, when I wanted.  They began to fill the pool and I wanted to get in so bad but it wasn’t time yet.  Dinner came and went, my boys went to sleep, and it was time for me to try to get some rest.

There must have been a decent break in contractions because I felt like I had gotten some sleep when I woke up halfway screaming to a very strong contraction while I was in bed.  Another one hit and I got nervous.  My husband helped me to the toilet, since I wanted to use the restroom.  I had another contraction there and almost screamed again, it was so intense.  My midwife heard that one (everyone was sleeping downstairs on the couches, getting rested) and came to our doorway.  I asked her to check me right away because if these contractions were going to be like this, I couldn’t do much more.  She checked me and I was a 9 with a small, but bouncy, lip of cervix.  I couldn’t believe it.

I got undressed and put my swimsuit top on and went downstairs to use the restroom one more time before getting into the birth pool.  I felt a pushing contraction while I was on the toilet.  I panicked and told my husband I didn’t want to have the baby right there.  We can laugh about that now since it was another 3 ½ hours of pushing before our little guy was born.

My contractions never got very close together, even during pushing.  I squatted A LOT and I was so grateful that I had been squatting so much practicing my Bradley exercises.  No one put me on a time limit and everything was normal in our comfortable little home.  This was by far my favorite birth and I hope to have another Home Birth.  I love that I get to have this story to tell.