Wednesday, October 1, 2014


As Violet's 1st birthday approaches, I wanted to make sure and take the time to put my experience giving birth to her in writing.  It's easy to forget the little details as time goes by and I want her to know everything about the wonderful day she was born.

Anytime someone hears that I had a natural, drug-free delivery, they always want to know the details, but quickly follow up with a comment about if it's too personal, I don't have to share.  I personally think giving birth naturally is an absolutely beautiful thing and am always happy to share my experience in the hopes that I can convince another woman that she too is more than capable of doing it herself!

I really hadn't thought much about giving birth until a few years ago when I saw the documentary, The Business of Being Born.  I only knew two ways women were delivering: with an epidural or a c-section (whether planned or unplanned).  In fact, I don't actually know anyone in my age bracket who has given birth without some form of labor assisting medication.  It was after watching that documentary, that I really began doing a lot of my own research about giving birth and I wasn't even pregnant!

A few years later when I did become pregnant, I had already researched what was available to me locally.  I could give birth without drugs in a hospital with an OBGYN.  However, given the c-section rates, I felt sure drugs would be pressured, which can often lead to a c-section.  (Eeek!---Here's some articles if you're interested: Why is the national U.S. c-section rate so high?possible delayed milk production after c-sections, pros and cons of epidurals)  I could deliver with a midwife (either in a bathtub or not) in a hospital that encourages natural birth, or I could have a home birth with a midwife (also either in a kiddie pool or not).  Given that this was my first go-round, I was a little nervous about having a home birth and decided to go with the water birth delivered by a midwife in a hospital option.  

Now for the actual events....

It was Tuesday October 29th, two days before my due date.  I had already taken off of work because I had this horrible feeling that my water would break while I was teaching and my favorite student would have to deliver my baby.  That evening I was up late making a plethora of pumpkin bread.  I can't really explain it, but I felt different that night.

I started having contractions sometime around midnight.  Every time I tried to go to sleep, a contraction would wake me up.  Jon was also up timing my contractions.  Some time around 4 a.m., my water starting leaking.  By 5 a.m., it seemed my contractions were close enough to make the hour drive to the hospital.  Ugh, I remember every single bump in the road.  So uncomfortable.  Despite this, we were obviously so excited.  Our baby was coming!  And the most exciting part---we were finally finding out if our baby was a boy or girl!

When we arrived at the hospital, they confirmed that my water was leaking and I was admitted into the hospital.  Several times I was told, "It's going to be a loooonnnggg day."  (My midwife warned me most first time moms are usually in labor for 18 hours or more.)  I was then moved into the birthing room, which was like the hotel suites of birthing rooms.  

Once we were in the room, we got to relax a bit.  I was starving and was so excited when they told me I could order food from the menu.  Then I saw the menu basically consisted of chicken broth and honeydew melon.  I've never been so disappointed in my life.  So instead of eating a delicious club sandwich, we took naps.  At this time, contractions were pretty uncomfortable, but I somehow managed to sleep through them for about an hour.

When I woke up, I was able to move around, which was nice.  The only comfortable position I could seem to find was awkwardly resting my arms and head on the rolling bedside table.  The baby monitors that were wrapped around my belly were seriously uncomfortable every time I had a contraction, so I was able to take them off and they just checked our baby's heartbeat every 15 minutes or so.  Again, awesome.  The nurses were super accommodating.

Once I was dilated 5 centimeters and in active labor, I was allowed in the birthing tub.  Yay!!!  It was so much more relaxing being in the tub.  We had been told Jon could get in the tub with me during delivery if we wanted.  We even packed his swim trunks.  However, once in the tub, I realized I wanted needed my space.  Contractions were still a couple minutes apart and I was just breathing through them.  I was told that tensing up during contractions could delay labor and I was ready to meet my baby, so I just tried to stay calm and control my breathing.

I spent about two and half hours in the tub.  Truthfully, labor wasn't really unbearable until the last 20 minutes.  Then I went into transition.  Here's what happened during transition.  I was naked and didn't care nor notice who or how many people were in the room.  I could barely talk, but was able to say three things: "I can't do this," the "F" word (but only once), and I told my dear, sweet husband to "Shut-up!" when he was just being supportive.  My legs were shaking uncontrollably.  And I remember thinking that each contraction felt like torture and that this must be what it feels like to be electrocuted over and over again.  While this phase was anything but enjoyable, it wasn't exactly painful.  I didn't cry out for drugs.  And I didn't regret my decision to have a drug-free delivery.

I remember asking when it would be time to push and I was told, "You'll know."  And I did.  It kind of felt as if I had do I say this felt as if I really had to go to the bathroom (numero dos).   When I was told to go ahead and push, I was so excited.  Our baby was about to be here!  It was also such a relief on my body to push.  Compared to the contractions I was feeling, it actually felt pretty good to push.

Violet was so low, I only pushed for about five minutes, though it felt like less to me.  This part of the delivery was almost a blur, but I do remember the commands I was given.  Breathe.  So I did.  There was a quick, sharp, burning pain as Violet started to crown.  (This part of delivery is dubbed "the ring of fire.")  Don't scream.  Focus your energy on pushing.  So I did.

The way I was sitting, I could actually see Violet coming out.  That might sound kinda freaky, but it was actually pretty motivating.  Once Violet's head was out, the rest of her body just slid out.  The midwife said to me, "Reach down and grab your baby."  So I did.  "It's a Violet!" Jon said.  I pulled Violet up onto my chest and just held her there for I don't know how long.

Violet Leslie was born at 2:21 p.m. on Wednesday, October 30th, 2013.  She weighed 6 pounds, 10 ounces and was 19 1/2 inches long.

If I'd known then I'd be putting this picture on my blog, I probably would have worn a little make-up!  Ha!  

Giving birth naturally was definitely painful.  I'd be lying if I said it wasn't.  However, it was also the most awesome experience I've ever had.  It was such an adrenaline rush and so empowering.  When I was getting out of the bathtub, I remember thinking, "Holy crap, I can't believe I just did that!"  I don't have an amazingly high threshold for pain, so if you think a natural birth is something you'd like to do, then just know you are completely capable of it!