Oh how eager I’ve been to share about Eliza’s arrival! I’m so blessed by her life, and honored to be her mama! And I’m SO thankful she is here rather than in my body!
FOREWARNING! Long post ahead!
Partway through my pregnancy, I decided that I really wanted to have an as natural of a birth experience as possible. With the twins, I had a very medicated labor and delivery (think pitocin induction, epidural, delivering on a metal operating table as is standard for twins, etc!). This time around, I didn’t even think about the fact that I had options of where and how I wanted to deliver my baby, because everything seemed so out of my control with the twins. Around 30 weeks, I read Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, and I suddenly had this huge urge to experience a drug free delivery…even though that idea really horrified me and I didn’t know if I’d be able to do it! I read and listened to lots of birth stories, and by the time I was full term, I felt really empowered and mentally ready to DO THIS.
And then I just had to keep waiting. and keep waiting.
If you’ve been past your due date, you know how HARD these last few days of waiting can be when you’re so uncomfortable with a giant belly and all the aches and pains that come with that! Since I was induced with the twins right before 38 weeks, I assumed this baby would be early – NOT a good mindset to have! I was ready for her to come any day after 38 weeks, especially since I’d been having contractions since so early on, so the wait felt like forever. I very strongly didn’t want to be induced, so after 39 weeks hit, I had an induction massage…and nothing. Boo.
My OB did my membrane stretch and sweep at my 39 week appointment…and nothing. I was 4cm and 60% effaced, but not having regular contractions.
She did it again at my 40 week appointment..and nothing.
Once my induction was scheduled, I felt desperate to not make it to that date. I took long walks. I took castor oil (which brought on contractions and thankfully no running to the bathroom!). More long walks. Even jogged! More castor oil. Gag. Then on Saturday morning, I had induction acupuncture, and the doctor said he would be shocked if I didn’t go into labor within 24 hours.
Well, that evening my contractions felt a little stronger, so I started tracking them. They were 1:58min apart and lasting about 55 seconds! Oh I was so excited! But after 30 min passed and they didn’t get any stronger, I decided to go to sleep, convinced the contractions would stop. And right when I did, I felt a couple big POPS!!! My eyes shot open, as I had read stories about that feeling when a woman’s water breaks! I stood up, and sure enough, there was a little gush!! I rushed to the bathroom and there were LOTS of gushes. I mean a LOT of water. Like holy-smokes-how-in-the-world-will-I-get-to-the-car-without-flooding-our-home sort of water. I called my doula and asked her what to do. I stuffed a towel in my underwear (yep, pretty hilarious!), wrapped a large bath towel around my waist, and then threw on a robe. My husband put a garbage bag on the seat of the car and topped it with towels for me to sit on. As we drove to the hospital, my contractions quickly began getting stronger, and with each one, the floodgates of waters opened up! It was such a surreal experience, and I was OVERJOYED to be in labor!!!!
When I was first checked in triage (around 11pm), I was 5cm. Things were happening! Contractions started to become strong enough that I had to focus through them. My doula arrived and right away began to rub lavender lotion on my feet. AMAZING! I was so thankful to have her there.
Once I got in my labor & delivery room, I was asked what position I wanted to labor in to start with, and I had NO IDEA! I was told that in labor, you’ll just know what positions will feel best, but I was clueless. My body didn’t give me those hints! Thinking it would be a long night ahead, I started laboring in the bed on my side so that I could fully rest between contractions, which were about 3 minutes apart. But then, my body started to shiver/shake uncontrollably all over! It was intense and awful. I couldn’t rest between contractions because my body was so tense from shaking. I remember reading that this is often a sign that a woman is in transition (the final stage of labor before being fully dilated), but it seemed so early that the nurses didn’t even think about checking me. (oh, and the dr on call required me to have continuous monitoring, which I was very clearly against in my birth plan. The nurses were frustrated with him about this, as they felt it was so ridiculous for a low risk delivery! So annoying, but I rolled with it rather than let it bother me too much, since I was still able to move around.)
I felt very strongly that I needed to poop (yes, keeping it real here!)…but again, it happened so quickly after getting to the room that even though I felt like I needed to push, it seemed like no one believed me. My doula got the tub ready for me, and that felt so so so so good. I mean, the contractions were still crazy intense, but the water was extremely calming. I felt really nauseous with each contraction – yuck. My doula poured warm water on my back with each one, and prayed over me. Yep, she was amazing. SUCH a good decision to have her!! This is when the song “It is Well” by Kristen Dimarco came on my L&D playlist, and it was God’s gift to me in that moment. The words and the feel of the song was exactly what I needed, and I told my doula to put that song on repeat.
The urge to push just kept getting more intense, so I got out of the tub to be checked. I was fully dilated!! Grant was getting situated for a long night, and he said something like, “WHAT?! you mean we’re going to have a baby soon?!” I couldn’t believe it either! It all happened so quickly! And I really bet I was fully dilated even before I labored in the tub! I couldn’t believe I had already worked through the contractions…and successfully without an epidural!! Once it was time to push, I declared how horrified I was to push! Ha! And then it ended up to be one of the best parts about labor.
You see, with the twins, my epidural took away 100% of feeling in my core and legs, which meant I couldn’t feel a single contraction. So when it was time to push, I had to be TOLD when to push. I couldn’t get the breathing right and ended up asking for oxygen because I felt so out of breath and light headed with each push. But this time around? I didn’t need to think about it. My body took over and I couldn’t NOT push. Of course, I had to add effort to it, but there was no question when I needed to push, and that was incredible to me. It’s absolutely amazing how God designed our bodies to know just what to do to birth a baby, and I’m so grateful I got to experience what that felt like without any meds! No, it wasn’t pleasant, but it was pretty amazing!
Pushing her body out was extremely painful and I remember saying “ah! It hurts! It hurts SO MUCH!”. Then the doctor said the one thing that truly angers me. He said quite loudly, “she’s going to have big tear!” Unbelievable!!! Talk about words that don’t encourage me to continue pushing, especially in the worst of the pain!!! He had no tact. I wanted to punch him. Of course I kept pushing, but it put even more fear in me and maybe if he hadn’t said that, he wouldn’t have had to YANK her out of me. Yes, he didn’t just kind of pull…he really had to pull her out. I’m glad I didn’t know that until after the fact, ha! She was born at 2:26am on Sunday, just a little over 3 hours after arriving at the hospital!
Grant declared her a girl and then she was immediately laid on my chest. This is when things got extremely painful. The pushing on my abdomen to help get the blood out was AWFUL. I apparently was bleeding a lot, so I was put on pitocin to help with that. And the doctor began stitching up my third degree tear before the numbing stuff went into effect. oh. my. goodness. words truly can’t describe the pain, and I’m glad I just have memory of how bad it was, rather than being able to re-feel that in my memory. I didn’t scream or cry during labor & delivery, but I did during all this post-delivery stuff. Meanwhile, I wasn’t able to fully take in my sweet new baby or feel all the feels that come from enduring a natural delivery And then I looked down and Eliza was nursing!!! What?! Yep, my doula was pretty awesome!
The nurses were taking bets on how much she weighed, and finally an hour or so after her birth, I made them weigh her because I was so curious. A whopping 9lbs 11oz!! No wonder my belly felt so giant, and that she had to be pulled out! Whew!
I am so grateful for how Eliza’s birth played out, that I didn’t need to be induced, that my water broke so that there was no question if I was in labor, that it was quick (not sure how long I would have been able to endure those intensely painful contractions!), and that Eliza was born so perfectly healthy. And then we got to go home with her just a day and a half later! And now, almost 4 weeks later, I can’t imagine life without her <3