Sometime, a very long time ago, I decided that I wanted a natural birth. I'm not sure what prompted that decision, but it happened nonetheless. I first considered it when my older sister delivered naturally. Since then, I've learned more and more about it, and it's excited me all the more. When I found out I was pregnant, I began to get serious about natural birth. Jonathan was totally supportive of what I wanted. I talked to others who've had natural births and looked into getting a doula. The doula I wanted, however, was unable to because she was having a baby herself. Understandable. So, I decided not to get a doula. Then one day I was talking with Lynn Sleeper, and we talked about how she loved her natural births. I talked with Jonathan, and we decided we wanted Lynn in there helping us with relaxation and breathing. So, now that you have the prologue, let me get to the good parts.
My estimated due date was June 15, 2010. Well, when that day came and went, I wasn't too worried. I had read that many births, especially first ones, were late. My only real concern was being induced. I knew that once the due date passed, the pressure to induce would build. I felt that since my pregnancy had not had any hiccups at all, an induction wouldn't be an option. Of course if there was a danger to Taylor or myself, I would have allowed induction in a heartbeat.
On Thursday, June 24th, we went to the doctor for some tests. With me being past my due date, they wanted to make sure the baby was doing fine. They checked her heartbeat and her movement and found everything to be perfect. Which meant they would 'allow' me to wait until the 29th before being induced. Yay. While I was hooked up to the monitor, Taylor stretched and pushed out against my belly (later I discovered this was actually a contraction, but I wasn't 100% sure what one felt like, so I ignored it).
When we got home around 6, I decided to rest on the couch. That was difficult because Taylor kept arching her back and pushing out against my belly (again, contractions, but I didn't know). She did this many times, so much so, that I began to wonder in my head "Kristin, are you having contractions?" (Yes, I sometimes talk to myself like that.) To keep myself from getting my hopes up, I do this thing where I secretly think something, but pretend like I don't. So I secretly thought I was beginning labor, but I pretended like I wasn't. I didn't want to get all excited, only to be disappointed if I was wrong.
We then went to the church for the viewing of Mical Parker. I had casually mentioned to Jonathan that I might be having contractions. But I told him I probably wasn't. While standing in line for the viewing, the pains began to get stronger and more frequent. They were short, but happening every 5 or so minutes. Jonathan began to get a little nervous, because he wanted to know if he needed to go ahead and make arrangements to miss camp. Lynn was at the viewing, so I described what I was feeling and asked her if I might be going into labor. I had begun feeling the pains in my lower back as well. At this point I was pretty certain, but I still tried to act like I wasn't. She said it sounded like I could be starting labor, and just to wait and see if they got stronger. They did get stronger, so much that I was having a hard time having conversations with people without making a grimace.
After the viewing we decided to go ahead to counselor hangout. It was at the Moore's house, and we thought it would serve as a distraction. I managed to hide the fact that I was having contractions. When one would come, I would stand still and let it pass. This worked for a little while, but pretty soon I decided to go home. We told the counselors right before we left the Moore's house, and in true camp fashion, they made a bridge with their arms for us to exit under.
When we got home, my mom let me know that they were almost to the house. I had text people while I was at the viewing to let them know that maybe contractions were starting. I told my mom to wait before coming; I wanted to be sure this was it. Well, she didn't listen to me. My mom, nanny, papa, and sister arrived at our house shortly after we got home. And then we waited. I wanted to labor at home for as long as possible.
Around 9 o'clock, I started timing the length of the contractions; well, Jonathan started timing them for me. They were 30-40 seconds long and happening 4, 5, and 6 minutes apart. Having never been in labor before, I was getting nervous. I didn't want to get too close to labor. So, around 12 o'clock, I was on facebook and saw a comment from Rachel Garcia. She told me to call her if I had any questions. I immediately called her. (Side note: I wanted Rachel to be my doula, but she couldn't because she had just had a sweet baby herself.) Rachel told me to stop timing my contractions and go take a bath to relax. She then wanted to talk to Jonathan. I shortly found out that she had given him secret dad tips. I could tell when he started trying to use them. He was trying to distract me from the contractions. I found myself annoyed at him. ;-)
So, I got in the tub and it did help me relax some. Jonathan grabbed a nap while I tried to relax. When I got out of the tub, the contractions hurt again. I was focusing only on the contractions, so it made them seem worse than they were. I tried to sleep, but would be woken every 5 minutes by a contraction. Around 1:30 I started timing the contractions again. They were coming every 5 minutes consistently and lasting for over a minute each time. They were getting more intense. Around 2:30 I finally couldn't handle it anymore. I was too excited; I wanted to go ahead to the hospital. I woke Jonathan up, and we left for the hospital. I was so excited!We got to the hospital around 3:00. After being dropped off by Jonathan, they took me to our super huge room.
When you want to water labor, they give you a bigger room to fit the tub. They were preparing the blow-up tub while I got checked. I was so worried I wouldn't be dilated anymore than 1 centimeter. When the nurse told me I was already 4 centimeters, I felt validation. I wasn't a wimp. Those contractions had actually been something. Thank goodness.
When the pool was finally ready, I climbed in for my relaxing time. It was delightful. I sat in the warm water and watched "The Office". When a contraction would come, I would turn on my knees, lean over the side, and focus on arching my back. It worked wonders. Thanks for the suggestion, nice nurse Nicole. Those contractions in the pool seemed like nothing. This labor thing was turning out to be too easy. :-) Dr. Adcock came in to check on me. He was very comforting. He put his hand on my head and prayed for us.
I very much appreciated it. He won me over.
By 6:00 am I had only progressed 1 more centimeter, putting me at 5 centimeters. I had hoped for more progress than that. Jonathan had been tweeting what was going on. Rachel G. happened to see the tweet about me being in the pool. She called Lynn and gave me an assignment. She wanted me to get out of the pool and walk around the hall for 10-12 good contractions. I reluctantly agreed; that water felt so good. It was hard to get out of it.
Jonathan and I walked up and down those halls at a pretty good pace. When a contraction would come, we would stop and breathe through it. I would either lean against the wall or lean against Jonathan. He would breath and have me copy him. The contractions were the strongest yet, but we were getting through them just fine.
It felt great to walk around. Once we completed our assignment, we went back to the room and I labored on the exercise ball for a little bit. From this point on, I became totally dependent on Jonathan. I would not let him get a foot away from me. He got me through the rest of labor.
At 8:00 When Dr. Adcock came back in to check me I was at 7 centimeters and the baby was at 0 station. Hip hip hooray! He offered to break my water for me, but I declined. I told him if it was still intact around 9 centimeters, then he could break it. As he walked away to wash his hands, I felt a strong contraction coming on. I turned on my side to deal with it. Something exploded inside of me. I felt/heard a loud POP! It terrified me; I didn't know what had just happened to me. Then I felt super wet, and they told me my water had just broken. It was 8:10. Dr. Adcock laughed and made sure to tell me that he hadn't done anything to make that happen. Ha. I knew that. Once my water broke, the pain got super intense. The pain was so strong, that it actually made me sick. I threw up several times. I wanted to use the bathroom, and while I was in there, decided to labor a bit on the toilet. It actually felt good to sit on the toilet, which is funny, because every other time I had used the bathroom, it had been agony to sit down.
At 8:30 I decided to get back in the pool to labor a bit. These contractions were so intense that the pool wasn't helping very much. I made Jonathan stay right there to help me through each contraction. I would let out a deep moan to help me through each contraction. It made me feel better to let out noise. I started getting the urge to push while in the pool. That scared me. I didn't want to push while in the pool, so I made the decision to get out.
At 9:00 I got in the bed. Rachel G. recommended me getting on my knees and facing the head of the bed. This was helpful because I could lean over the top of the bed and grab the bars behind it. When a contraction would come, I would grip the bars to get through the pain. I had such a strong urge to push, but I was scared to because I wasn't fully dilated yet. The nurse kept telling me to do what my body was telling me. Well, my body was screaming at me to push, so I allowed myself to bear down. I would bear down when a contraction came, but only a little. The contractions were so strong that I was yelling...loudly. The pain even made me throw up a few times (maybe I shouldn't have snuck those pretzels and popsicles earlier). I could hear the conversations of the nurse and Lynn. I heard someone say, "Is the doctor almost here?" "Can you catch a baby?" "Where is he?" I knew I was getting close if they had called the doctor. The nurse checked me, and let me know that I was fully dilated, so it was totally safe to push. By 9:30 I was making progress. At 10:00 I decided to turn onto my back. They could see the baby's head, and I didn't want to push the baby out in my knee position. Once I got on my back, it was so uncomfortable. I put one leg up and leaned ever so slightly on my side. This is when I started doing the extreme pushing. The nurse had me grab my leg and she put the stirrups up for me to push off of. They had me push for a count of 10. This helped because I had something to focus on. After many pushes, she still wasn't coming, so the Dr. asked if he could give me an episiotemy. At that point I did not care. I was hardly able to understand what he was saying; I was so delirious. I readily agreed; I just wanted that baby out. He cut once and I could feel him trying to help the head out while I pushed. I was in so much pain. It was way more than I had expected. I was screaming and pleading for God to help me. I remember yelling "I don't think I can do this!" I felt like that baby wasn't coming out. The Dr. yelled my name and told me to calm down. He then told me to reach down and grab my baby. I had no idea what he was talking about. I said, "I don't know what you mean." He told me to open my eyes, and when I finally did, I realized that her head was out. So, I reached my arms down and felt her head. Then I pulled, and to my amazement, a baby came with my hands. Victory! I pulled her up onto my chest and began sobbing.
I cannot describe the joy that I felt at that moment. It was completely beautiful. We were overcome with emotions. I held my crying baby and thanked God...mostly for the baby, but also for surviving. It was so much harder than I thought it was going to be, but it made it so much more worth it. I just cried and held her there. Such a special moment. And thankfully, Rachel Jones captured it in pictures. I can look back at those pics and remember exactly what the whole moment felt like.
I can even see my husbands face, and see the pure joy that he experienced at the sight of his baby girl (I didn't get a chance to see his face much when it was all actually happening). God gave us a baby...a beautiful, healthy baby girl. We could not have been more thankful. 7 lbs. 14 oz. and 20 3/4 inches long: perfect.
More to come later on our first few weeks together.