*Maternity & Newborn photos by Sana Ahmed Photography
I can’t believe it’s already been over 5 weeks with our sweet babe! My husband and I welcomed our son on April 19, 2019 and that day will forever be one of the most magical, divine, challenging days of my life. I love birth stories so I thought I would share mine. I go into a lot of detail so just beware if that’s not your thing! 🙂
As I went into the 39th week of my pregnancy, I got more and more uncomfortable and wondered when the heck this baby was going to come out. Pregnancy had been amazing but also full of frustration (I had gestational diabetes and controlling it without insulin and constantly worrying about the health of my baby was one of the hardest things I’ve done. I can’t even tell you how much I cried that last trimester). I spent that last week wondering each and every day if today was the day!
I just had an intuitive feeling that baby would make his appearance with the full moon, which was 39 weeks and 4 days. I knew this pink moon would be at its peak around 8:30 am and I felt that that’s when labor would start. I went to sleep Thursday night, got a great night of rest and then woke up around 8:15. I went to the bathroom, noticed a bit of blood on the toilet paper and figured that was my bloody show. I got back in bed and the contractions started immediately. I wasn’t surprised at all, and so thankful that my labor started after a night of rest like I wanted. I was also happy that it was a Friday because that was the day my favorite midwife was on rotation.
They started out as what I call “cute contractions” because they didn’t really hurt and were just exciting. They started out at about 6 minutes apart for an hour, which was a lot closer than what I expected. I went downstairs and made breakfast. The contractions amped up to about every 2-3 minutes for the next hour and became less cute.
I had assumed labor would be slow and I could labor at home for a while. But I was positive for group b strep which meant I needed to be at the hospital for at least four hours before the baby was born to receive antibiotics. Since the contractions were so close together, I called my doctor and she recommended I head to the hospital.
My husband booked his way home and we made our way there, the contractions getting stronger in the car. As I got checked in, I began struggling through the waves, actually surprised at how much sensation I was feeling. The midwife came in and told me I was 3 cm. She explained that I could labor for another hour or so and if I didn’t progress, she’d probably send me home.
The idea of going home sounded HORRIBLE and I felt a bit defeated that I wasn’t farther along, especially with how intense I was feeling.
My sweet husband coached me beautifully through the next hour or so. I felt so, so nauseous and ended up throwing up in the trash can.
My doula arrived a short bit later to help me labor. She suggested I sit on a yoga ball and do hip circles. I was about 3 circles in when I felt a huge gush of liquid.
“I think my water just broke,” I told her.
She checked around me and confirmed it.
“Good news is you’re not going home now!”
I hated the way it felt when my water broke. Liquid just came gushing and gushing out and it felt so messy and nasty. The water was pretty brown and they told me it had meconium in it, which meant that my baby would have to be monitored after birth, which scared me.
By now I was really struggling with the sensations. The contractions were very close together with pretty much no break in between. I heard the doula tell my husband that one reason they could be so close together like that is if they were trying to turn my baby into the right position for birth.
When the midwife came back in, I was hoping with all my might that I was miraculously 10 cm. She checked me and I’d only progressed to a 4. I started to feel defeated again and told my husband that if it was going to be a really long labor that I might need to get an epidural.
I planned all along to birth naturally. I’d been studying hypnobirthing, reading all the books, meditating every night, repeating affirmations. I’d done soooo much work in preparing for a natural birth that the last thing I wanted was to get an epidural, but the contractions were so intense and so close together that I wondered if I could do it.
At this point, I laid on my side in bed, closed my eyes, and tried to breathe through them. I stayed that way, immobile and not talking for a good hour or more. My husband and the doula were sitting by me and I heard them talking.
“I think the contractions have calmed down a bit,” my husband said.
“She looks really peaceful. But if you look here on the screen, it shows when she’s having one and she’s definitely still having them back to back. Maybe they’re just not as intense.”
I couldn’t reply but I wanted to punch them both haha. They weren’t less intense, they were more intense and almost unbearable but I was just so focused on breathing and meditating that it didn’t seem that way outwardly.
A couple more hours passed and the midwife came to check me again. She told me I was a “stretchy 6,” whatever that means. I was so disappointed I wasn’t further along so I started seriously talking to her about getting the epidural.
She explained all about it and I was pretty much ready to go for it. But then I asked my inner self, what do you want to do? I don’t want to get one, it replied. Okay, then don’t. A part of me just knew that I needed to hang on a little bit longer.
I had to muster up every ounce of strength I had to get through that last stretch. My doula suggested we move to the shower so I sat in a chair and let the hot water fall over me while my husband massaged my back and coached me through.
For the past couple hours, I’d had a strong, uncontrollable urge to push with each contraction. I was told to resist that urge because my cervix wasn’t open enough yet and it could lead to a c section. Resisting that urge was almost impossible and as I labored in the shower, it got harder and harder to do.
After another hour or two (who knows, time didn’t exist to me haha), I had two REALLY strong pushing contractions where my whole body convulsed and I screamed loudly. The doula went and got the midwife to have her check me again.
I was begging the universe to let me be ready to push at this point, and when I got checked, I was ready to go!
It was SUCH a relief to allow my body to push when it so badly wanted to. I tried pushing on hands and knees for a couple cycles but the baby didn’t like that so they suggested I push semi-reclined.
My husband held onto one leg and the doula held onto the other and I just started pushing. I absolutely LOVED this part. Immediately, I knew exactly where and how to direct the pushing. It just felt so innate and easy.
It wasn’t long before the baby started crowning. They put a mirror up so I could see the progress and I kept waiting for the ring of fire as the circle got wider and wider but it really wasn’t that painful to me.
The midwife, nurses, and doula kept looking at each other in awe and saying how this birth was so amazing. I didn’t really understand why but when I asked the doula later she said it was because I looked so zen the whole time, as well as the fact that pushing usually takes a lot longer. My midwife was actually scheduled to get off at 6 pm but she stayed until my baby was born a little before 7 pm because she really wanted to witness the birth. I also asked my doula how many people she’s seen that want to go naturally at least ASK for the epidural and she said 100% of the time, so that made me feel better lol!
One final push and my sweet love was born. They laid him on my chest and I just started bawling. I looked up at my husband who was crying as well and I was in a complete state of bliss.
I barely felt it as I birthed the placenta. And then for about 15 minutes, I felt the midwife basically digging inside me with what felt like her whole arm to stop the bleeding. She kept telling me that the bleeding wasn’t really stopping like she wanted and she couldn’t locate where it was coming from.
“You must have a really high pain tolerance,” my doula said as she watched the midwife work. But I was just so totally in love and blissed out that I honestly barely knew anyone else was in the room.
I ended up having three small tears, one of which was on my cervix which is what made me lose so much blood, but all of them were minor and didn’t need any stitches. I was so thankful!
I remember the first thirty or so minutes after he was born, all I wanted to do was nurse him. I kept asking when I could, since it seemed like so many things were going on and I was almost MAD that I wasn’t getting to nurse him immediately. It felt like forever.
I also remember feeling like an absolute goddess for the next couple of weeks. I felt so strong and powerful and amazed at my own strength. Even now, I try to remind myself when doubt comes in that I am strong beyond my own belief.
My husband has done a wonderful job reminding me of this as well. I’ll never forget the look of admiration on his face during and after birth. It was such a beautiful experience getting to go through the birthing process together and it definitely brought us closer. He did such an amazing job being by my side.
In the end, I’m so glad I birthed naturally. When people thought I was crazy when I told them my desires, I just explained that I wanted to feel it all. I wanted that experience. I actually didn’t even take a Tylenol anytime I was in the hospital. The nurses kept asking every few hours if I wanted something and I was like I’m good, guys. I was shocked the immediate postpartum period wasn’t more painful.
Was it the absolute hardest thing I’ve ever done? Yes and no. Yes, it was painful and draining and surreal and unlike anything I’ve ever done, but I was never SCARED which is so huge. I was never afraid or panicky or anxious (so unusual for me) and I think hypnobirthing had a lot to do with that. I really trusted my body and trusted the birthing process.
I’m actually not sure if I’ll go naturally again if we have a second baby. It just seems so much more peaceful with an epidural but I’m sure if you ask me in a year I’ll be ready to go again 😉
I’m so incredibly grateful I had the support I did from my husband, doula, family, and friends throughout my pregnancy and labor. There’s no doubt in my mind that the birth would have been much different otherwise.