My “Natural” Childbirth Story
So, we are over TWO months out and I am FINALLY getting back to my blog and sitting down to try and cohesively, to the best of my knowledge and memory, share my birth story.
A little history, I have FOREVER dreamed of being a mother. It is really the only thing I feel like I have ever dreamed of. I was never much for marriage, I thoroughly enjoyed living alone, renting places, and the freedom that was included with that. I always said to myself that I did not need a man or a home to have a child. I said that if the right man never came along that I would still do it on my own. It was a non-negotiable for me.
Luckily, I found my life partner with his kids that I love tons and we bought a fantastic home. Our daughter, Calista Rhayne, just completed it all. NONE of this was what I expected. From 2006-2010 I was in a toxic relationship followed by an abusive one. I had given up on men and relationships. Really, if I were being very honest, I had pretty much given up on myself. I thought it was me. But, a few years later here we are. During those years between the bad relationships and my relationship with Bob, I found yoga and my life changed. Healing happened, a new passion for a more real, healthy, natural way of life became a priority. I always wanted a natural childbirth. I don’t have a definitive reason why I initially wanted it. At the time that the decision was first made I was too young to really understand. But, it stuck with me. So, when my more hippy/”crunchy”, if you will, lifestyle came around it just made more sense. I don’t know why I catch so much flack from people about the choice. If you do your research you learn how its not about pain, its about not introducing foreign things into your body that can affect the natural progression of labor, inhibit vital hormonal reactions, etc. There is a long list of reasons. One BIG thing for me was that I wanted to be TOTALLY PRESENT. Some people say, “Oh trust me, you are present”, but that isn’t true. Everything foreign you introduce changes you, your body, your mind, etc. I am 34, this will only happen ONE time. I want to be mindful and present for every single moment. In any case, lets get to the actual birth story….
I had an appointment with our midwives group the Wednesday before. We see a group, so you don’t always see the same midwife. I went in all happy and very pregnant a week and a half past my due date. Now, here is a disclaimer, I do not want to bash the midwives because the actual midwives we had were amazing as was our nurse. I will tell my story, raw and honest. This part is, in my opinion, the worst of my story. Anyway moving on. The midwife came in and immediately wanted to check my cervix. Bob and I had made a plan not to have these checks. They come with risks that outweigh any benefits, not to mention the “benefits” are controversial. Cervical dilation is not a good indication of labor progression and can change at a moments notice or stall for no apparent reason that still is not a good indication that labor is stalling. In any case, I told her I’d rather not, and she told me she rather she did. She gave a rather convincing reason, so I gave in because I believed and trusted my medical professional. Bob was mad and I was uncomfortable. I was not bullied, but it was still clearly not in my plan (that I had given to the midwives and spoke about it on several occasions with this midwife, so she knew), I had clearly objected, but she still insisted. If I could go back I would have insisted on NOT having it done because the only difference it made was that it sent me on an emotional and fearful roller coaster that took me a few hours to let it go. So, the check…while she was performing it she asked if she could sweep my membranes. She went on to explain what it was, WHILE HER HAND WAS STILL IN MY VAGINA! 5 minutes this went on for, her hand still inside of me. Anyone who knows me KNOWS how uncomfortable this was for me. In any case, I declined the sweep. She pulled her hand out as she rolled her eyes and turned back to her computer. She then proceeded to tell me that she will have to schedule an induction for the following Wednesday and I will no longer be followed by the midwives because they currently don’t have the staff to do inductions. There it went, in just those few minutes I saw my dreams of a natural child birth getting shit on, dismissed, etc. I was shocked. It seemed so personal, she seemed to be lashing out at me because I wouldn’t let her. I was shocked at how that went, after all, I was with a midwifery group that is all about allowing the body to do its thing, empowering women to make their OWN decisions about THEIR birth, but suddenly that didn’t seem so. I was proud of the patience I had to get to 41.5 weeks, listening and disregarding all the uneducated thoughts and opinions of people who thought that I needed an induction, cervical dilation checks, etc. and here she is seemingly going against it all.
I left in tears that day, fearing this induction that I NEVER wanted unless there was a medical reason or emergency to do so. And, BTW, there wasn’t. Baby and myself where healthy! That was when Bob and I decided to try Caster Oil. Now, there are two sides to the opinions of Caster Oil, people are either for it or against it. Usually those against are not well educated on it, they just listen to what other people say, but I had done my research, as had Bob, and we were comfortable with our decision. We left the appointment and went to the store. We decided we would have a good night sleep and start it in the morning, so we would be well rested for a potentially long labor, should that be our case.
Thursday morning, May 5th, 2016, sometime early that morning I was woken by a cramping pain, just one. Not sure what it was, we just went back to sleep. Later we woke at our normal morning time to start another normal day, at least that was how we were trying to enter the day. No big expectations, so we said, but I know I was excited and hopeful to meet my baby girl that day. Bob and I got the kids off to school. Let everyone know, including the on call midwife, that we were starting the caster oil and we would keep them posted. At approx 9am I had two tablespoons that I mixed with peanut butter and put on toast. This was the advice of the midwife that day before. She says that the likelihood of diarrhea is less when mixed with a protein like a nut butter. We then went on to clean the house and prepare for what MAY come. Around 10am I began to have to go poo. Had a few normal potty breaks. Then the feelings progressed to, “Do I have to poo or is that a contraction”. Now, most people will tell you when you have one you will know. Well, like everyone says, every person and every pregnancy is different, I didn’t know…not at first. This went on for a few hours. I would go to the bathroom thinking I had to poo, but didn’t. At noon we decided to eat, I then knew I was having contractions. We sat at the dinning table eating lunch. I would stop every so often, get on the floor, and hang over my ball while I had a contraction. Lunch is the last thing I clearly remember….
See, Calista was posterior so I had some intense back pain. My labor pains went from not sure to “holy shit” in not a lot of time. They also got close together very quickly too. Bob and I continued to labor at home till 3 something in the afternoon. At that point, I told him that I thought we needed to go in. Something wasn’t adding up to me. This pain didn’t seem like normal labor pain. So, he called the midwife, she listened to me have a contraction, and she told Bob she would tell them (L&D) to be expecting me. So, we loaded up and started the 30-45 minute trip to the hospital. At this time, the ONLY thing that helped my back pain was Bob squeezing each side of my hips inward, counter pressure, and rubbing my lower back. I felt the contractions in my lower abdomen like everyone says they feel it, but that felt like nothing compared to my back pain. I guess I was having back labor.
The ride to the hospital was intense, especially without Bob doing counter pressure and massaging my back. I ended up on my knees facing backwards in the seat. I felt every bump in the road. We got to the hospital and in our room at about 4:30pm, so we had been laboring at this point for about 6ish hours. Besides how intense the back pain was, I was still feeling good with laboring naturally. Time went on and contractions grew more and more intense. Like at home, I don’t really remember everything. I have bits and pieces of things that I remember. My pain was so intense that my body was blocking things in order to deal is what I am told is the reason why I don’t remember. Our first midwife, who we also loved, wasn’t there very long, as goes for the nurse. Later on we got the midwife we were hoping to get, not the one at our appt two days prior, and another one who was orienting, but don’t let that fool you. I have no idea how long she has been a midwife, but it was clear that this is her calling. I couldn’t say better things about our midwives or the nurse that we had all night.
Day turned into night and we were still laboring. I have no idea at what point the midwife wanted to check my cervix, at that point it was necessary. They were not able to tell when a contraction started and ended. I was in so much continual back pain that it was hard to say. I agreed, but asked not to be told how dilated I am because it had been an intense journey so far, and if I wasn’t dilated much I would have been discouraged even though I know that number really means nothing and can change in a flash. Bob could tell by her reaction that I wasn’t where any of us would have liked me to be, but we continued on. Somewhere along the way my laboring playlist was turned on and I caught a second wind. I sat on the ball singing to my daughter in my belly, visualizing her dropping, delivering, and in my arms nursing.
I labored on the ball, on the toilet, in the tub, in the shower. The only things that helped the intense pain was Bob squeezing me and rubbing my lower back, which I needed it so hard that he left bruises, and the shower. Every contraction Bob had to squeeze me with all of his strength. At one point he wasn’t available, he was taking a break, peeing, or something and one of the midwives tried and she just wasn’t strong enough. I don’t know what I would have done if Bob wasn’t there. The contractions were about every 3-4 minutes and so intense he couldn’t leave my side. And he didn’t. If you don’t have a partner that is this supportive in labor then I HIGHLY suggest a doula. Having THAT person is what made all the difference. The nurse and midwives where super impressed with him and said that he needs to start his own business teaching other men how to do what he did.
Night turned into overnight. I tried to sleep between contractions, but it seems that they came back with a vengeance. Each contraction after I fell asleep were the pits, they were more painful for some reason. It made me not want to sleep! At some point I did get to 7cm and stayed there for who knows how long. My labor stalled! From what I understand, laboring at 7cm is intense. I am not sure why it is just what the midwives told Bob and he later told me as I tried to remember my labor. We tried different positions and techniques to try and get her to rotate to no avail and by early morning I was so exhausted and had been working so hard, that I started to hallucinate. Mind you we, Calista and I, were being monitored and were still doing well, so we continued to labor naturally. But by morning, almost 24 hours in and me starting to hallucinate due to such an intense labor, the midwives were concerned with how well I would be able to continue, especially during transition and pushing with it being this intense and me being so tired. I had not making much progress past the 7cm, and because Calista was still posterior. See, the thing is USUALLY posterior babies will rotate during contractions, they will also drop. Here we were 24 hours in, 7cm, with a posterior baby that is still stationed at -1 or -2, meaning she hadn’t dropped.
At this point the midwives suggested an epidural so Bob and I, because he was working his ass off too, could nap, rest up, and deliver this baby. The thought and hope was to let my body rest and hopefully she will rotated and drop. The rest would allow my body to do some much needed work. Through many tears, lots of talking, questions and answers, I agreed. The midwives were great at presenting the idea to me gently, answering ALL of my questions, reassuring me, and giving me my right to think it over and chose. I hated every minute of it to be honest, but I get the necessity. We rested, I rested with a Peanut Ball between my legs. However, hours later it was determined that it didn’t work, well at least not as much as we hoped. On to plan C.
Next, just like the last suggestion, the midwives gently suggested Pitocin. The thought behind this was that it would intensify my contractions to help Calista drop and rotate. This did help me to dilate more, but she still hadn’t dropped or rotated. The rotation isn’t a huge deal, MANY women can, have, and will delivery posterior babies. So, since I was at, I think 9cm we decided to start pushing to see if that would help.
Hours of pushing in various positions and no changes were happening. The midwives felt as though my pushing was good, but the next suggestion was to lower the epidural so that I had more feeling, therefore, may have more effective pushing. So, the epidural was lowered in increments until it was “off”. Here I was with intense pain already now with more intense pain due to Pitocin and pushing like it was my life.
It was during this time that the midwives felt her head and could tell that it was also cocked to the side and she was off to the right some as well. None of it conducive to a vaginal delivery. At some point, that I don’t really remember they did break my water because they felt it bulging when I was pushing and they were thinking that it might help her to drop or give her head room to move. They also tried to gently adjust her head. Hours of all of this and pushing and nothing happened except I did finally make it to 10cm.
Eventually they consulted and brought in the OB. He agreed with them that she was posterior, to the right, head cocked, and was still at a station of – 2 or – 1. He immediately said c section of course, but still gave us time to try more pushing. Omg did I push. With going so off the “natural” plan, I at least wanted to deliver my baby vaginally. In the end I labored for about 30 some hours with 4 hours if pushing and she never rotated or dropped and her head stay cocked to the side.
I had a c-section. I know to many people it’s not a big deal, but to us, me especially, it was. Not only was it not my dream, it’s the polar opposite, but it’s also scary. It’s a MAJOR surgery with many real and potential complications. I was mad, sad, scared, lonely, Oh so many emotions. Just before, while in the OR getting prepped I was literally freaking out. I’ve never been so scared in my life. I was so tired, so sad, and scared that I felt like I couldn’t even lay there.
I don’t know how long the surgery was, but hearing my girl cry for the first time, seeing her squishy little face that looked, to me, just like Bob was the most amazing feeling in the world. They gave her to me immediately and that was where she stayed for at least an hour. That time was so precious and something else that we had outlined in our birth plan. We knew that our families where excited and wanted to come see her, but this was OUR time with our girl, the fruits of our labor. Critical things and special bonding time was happening! Especially considering all the stuff that I had been through and done I was really worried about hormonal issues and bonding, so this time became even more important to me. We also needed to get that first latch for breastfeeding. She latched right away, didn’t immediately nurse, but did later and that has been a success ever since.
Many people have said that all that matters is a healthy mom and baby, while that is true, it’s only true to a point. If you’re the kind of person who find the pregnancy, labor, and birth just as important as the life itself then your birth story does matter, even with a healthy baby. Even if she wasn’t healthy she’s my baby and that was her birth that was crazy hard, complicated, and ended in a sad way. That matters. Don’t let people make you feel bad if you’re upset because your birth wasn’t what you wanted just because you have a healthy baby. It ALL matters and takes time to heal.
I had no idea how emotional I would be after her birth. I thought only women with postpartum depression had emotional problems, but it’s taking some time for me to reconcile it all. It’s especially hard because I don’t remember it.
But seeing her, nursing her, seeing her Daddy, sisters, and brother loving on her. Seeing all the love she has from others and getting back to a normal life, normal routine, and getting out living life has helped.
Nonetheless, a c-section “wasn’t supposed to happen to me”. I did everything I could to be healthy during my pregnancy, I did so much research on the benefits of having a health and fit pregnancy and a natural childbirth. I took classes to support this and various other things. I was so not prepared for a c-section mentally, physically, and especially emotionally. It definitely left me feeling off for quite some time, but that’s a story for another time….
Edit…to continue on with my postpartum journey, please click here to read about my journey with postpartum depression.