My first natural birth

This is the story of my second-born child, my first son, and my first natural birth; it was also my only birth with a doula. I wish I had hired one for all my births! I did not choose natural because I "want a trophy" or any other similarly silly reason. I chose it because I believe in it. I believe it's possible and beneficial for most women, not all. I believe it is a personal choice, and would not look down on someone for their choice. Choosing natural childbirth has changed the woman I am. It has deepened my faith in God and in myself. I have learned new things from each of my births. This birth taught me that I am strong, even when I don't think I am, even when others don't think I am, even when others think I may be crazy. Each of my natural births connected my husband and me more than my epidural birth. I don't believe natural birth is the only way to accomplish those things, but I know from experience that it can be a good way to accomplish those things. 

On Dec 26, 2005, Scott had the day off and I decided that I wanted to get all the Christmas decorations down so that they would be done before baby boy made his arrival. Who knew that would start a yearly tradition? After the decorations came down, I realized I hadn’t felt C move much in the past hour or so. I laid down and drank some orange juice to try to wake him up. He didn’t really wake, so I called my doula, Sherry Asp, and asked her opinion. She said to head into Reno and check his vitals. I started counting my contractions on the way to Reno, they were about a minute long and 10 min apart. He was moving a little now, but it was about 6pm, and there was a possible snowstorm that night, so we thought we would go ahead and get into Reno before the temperature dropped too much. At the time, we lived in Fernley, NV which required a drive through the mountains in order to get to a hospital. So, we called the Webbs, who were watching #1 for us, and they met us at a McDonald’s in Reno to take her. We grabbed some food for us too. 

We checked into the hospital, #2 was doing fine, and I was dilated to 6cm. We were admitted, and we called the doula to meet us there.

I should mention here that you can be dilated for weeks. I have been. Dilation is a measure, but it doesn't mean that birth is imminent. I believe now that I could have waited a week or more before #2 would have arrived. It turned out ok, but with later births 2 out of 3 later births, I chose to not pay as much attention to dilation. 

I informed the nurse of my birth plan - no drugs, intermittent monitoring (15min/hr), a hep-lock instead of IV, leaving the cord attached until after the placenta was delivered, and immediate nursing for the baby. (Tip: If you have a birth plan, choose 5 or so things that are most important to you, and highlight those. It will allow the staff to actually read your birth plan and help them to not see you as troublesome.)  She did the heplock and left. I knew my doctor was on vacation, he had warned me, so I knew it would be luck-of-the-draw. I also declined the hospital gown. I hated trying to keep that stupid thing closed with my first birth, and I saw no need for it in early labor. After about 20 minutes, the nurse returned to say that the doc on call really wanted me on monitoring the whole time. I politely declined. I also began to sneak chicken nuggets whenever we were alone in the room. While eating at one point, the doc came in. I thought for sure I was in for a lecture. He didn’t say a word. I explained to him that I wanted to be able to move freely, and that I discussed this with my doc (he was a supervisor at the hospital, so I thought a little name-dropping couldn’t hurt). He said he didn’t mind at all, that he hadn’t told the nurse I had to stay on the monitor at all. Hmmmmm. Someone lied. I still don’t know who. After about an hour, the nurse said it would just be easier to go ahead and hook me up to an IV now just in case something went wrong. I had hemorrhaged with #1’s birth, so I had already consented to pitocin after the birth. I asked, “Since I have the heplock, isn’t the time difference less than 5 seconds? I’d rather not. I want to be able to move around.” She tried to convince me that I could still move around, I would just have to wheel the IV cart around. Yeah, thanks, but no. The rest of the night was pretty uneventful. We watched Jay Leno, laughed, and goofed off. If I had been at home, I would have been sleeping, but I was too excited. I did nap off and on. 

The nurses changed shifts in the middle of the night. The new nurse said she had never had a patient choose to birth naturally before. She asked Sherry if I had had a bad experience the last time. Sherry just told her only I could answer that question, the nurse never asked me. The new nurse was very nice, even if a little clueless about natural birth. She seemed willing to experience it right along with us. She also told me that I should just do a shot of pitocin in my leg instead of putting it in the IV. We did decide to leave the heplock in, just in case, since it was already there, even though it was uncomfortable. (We never needed it.)

At about 5am, the doctor came in and said he wanted to check my progress. I was dilated to 9 cm, he told me. He then asked the nurse for a hook. She handed it to him. Immediately, red flags went up in my mind. “A hook? That can’t mean what I think it does? [to break my water] Surely he would ask first...” Very quickly, he had the hook package opened and in hand. I asked, “Wait... what are you doing?” He responded, very matter-of-factly, “I am going to break your water.” My head was saying, “Oh, really? You’re going to break something of mine, without asking me first? Nice try.” I managed to politely say, “I would like to discuss that with my husband first.” He looked astounded that I would dare even consider not going along with his will. He stood from the bed, stormed to the door, ripped off his glove, threw it in the trash, turned around and said, “You’re not at a 9 anyway, you’re only at a 6,” and left. Well, thank you, I didn’t realize they allowed two-year-olds to become doctors. I quickly realized his shift was over in 2 hrs, and he just wanted a paycheck for delivering my baby. I looked at my belly and told my little man to just hang in there till after 7, because I didn’t want that doctor anywhere near us again. I don't think he was quite ready yet anyway, so I never saw that doctor again.  

When the doctors changed shifts, the new woman came in, and was very nice. She was supportive of my birth plan, and checked on us every few hours, but largely left us alone, achieving a really good balance. We walked around the hospital a few times and basically just hung out, trying nipple stim and taking cohosh tincture. One time when the doc came in, at about 1pm, she explained that #2 was head down, and very low and said she would break my water if I wanted to. At this point, maybe I should have waited, but I was anxious to meet him, and had been in the hospital for about 18 hrs. So I consented, and she broke my water. 

Until that point, I had barely felt my contractions, but once the water was broken, they came fast and furious. I found relief changing positions, particularly on all fours. Sherry would gently tap twice on any muscle that I was tensing, something we had practiced. That was a reminder to me to relax that muscle. It was very effective, because it was something we had worked out before. I didn't feel like she was telling me what to do, but rather, using a gentle reminder to tell me something I wanted to do. The fact that it was non-verbal was nice for me also.
Now that I'm more aware of the power of human touch, I think that played a part as well. A gentle touch that not only told me to relax, but told me that she was here with me, supporting me, gently here for me. 

 I got in and out of the shower, each contraction getting stronger. I felt like I was in the movies, groaning and yelling. Sherry used counter pressure on my lower back, and Scott was very encouraging throughout. She did the hip squeeze - standing behind me, squeezing both hips up and in. I felt him move down, and at the same time, felt relief of some of the pain. Without those things, I don’t know if I could have made it through. During one contraction, with Sherry doing the hip squeeze, I thought, "If she did nothing else, this woman is worth every penny." I considered the epidural, but I ran through the reasons I had decided not to use it in my head, and remembered that I was most likely too close to birth to get one. 
C at 4 months

I told Sherry that I thought I needed to poop, and asked if it was normal. She said that it was fine and helped me to the toilet. It was there that I realized I didn’t need to poop, I needed to push! I decided then and there that I was comfortable on the toilet and would birth there. haha! Sherry got to where we were eye-to-eye and firmly (but nicely) said, "Kristi, you can NOT have this baby on the toilet." I trusted her and knew she would not have had that tone of voice with me if it weren't a good reason, so I got off and moved towards the bed. She later told me she has caught babies that way, but you run the risk of them hitting their head on the porcelain, and they go from warm womb to cold water. Obviously, I had not thought of either of those things!

I got back in in the bed, again on all fours. We called the nurse, who, of course, had to check my dilation. She complained to Sherry that she hated checking dilation while I was in that position (hands and knees) because it was hard for her. I said, “Fine, I I’ll roll over.” I was a little annoyed, because, really, I am the one who should be comfortable, not her, but I didn’t want to be a diva. I rolled over, she announced I was at 10cm and fully effaced. By this point, the urge to push was undeniable and unable to be ignored. They called the doctor, but the one on call was in her office across the campus. So they called the perinatologist, whose office was in the hospital itself. I remember the nurses coming in and telling me I couldn’t push yet because the doctor wasn’t there. I said he better hurry up, or I was doing it without him. I looked at Sherry, and said, “I’m fine with you catching this baby!” She was training to be a midwife at that time (she is a midwife now). They told me I could turn back over if I wanted to, but I did not feel like I could move. They also asked if I wanted to feel his head, but I was holding myself up with my hands, because putting my hips down on the bed caused too much pressure. I said, “I would really like to, but I can’t.” I’m still amazed at my ability to form such polite sentences at the time (especially considering I yelled at the midwife with L’s birth, 2 years later. Maybe I was just more comfortable with my surroundings and freedom to express myself with L, or maybe I became less concerned with what other people think of me). 
C at 6 yrs (minus one day)

The perinatologist came in and introduced himself, Dr. Globe, I think. For some reason, I said, “I hope we don’t make a mess on your nice shirt!” I guess I really liked his shirt. It probably had something to do with the fact that all the other doctors had been in scrubs, and he was dressed very nicely. He told me that was not a problem, and put a gown and gloves on. Because I had waited so long, once he got into position, I pushed very hard, and C was out in about 2 pushes. Sadly, the doctor cut the cord immediately. I tried to say something, but he was very fast. I knew he did not have time to review my birth plan, so I wasn’t upset, but I was disappointed. They set him up on my chest, and I said, “Hi, little guy!” Of course, it was love at first sight. He began nursing like a champ right away. The doctor told me several times that he was not pulling on the cord, but that the placenta was coming on its own. I thought that was kind-of cute, and I really appreciated it, considering the doc had pulled it with R, and that is almost certainly the cause of the hemorrhage. They called the time of birth at 3:00 pm, about 2 hours after my water was broken.

They took C and put him under the bili lights while the doctor started to stitch me up; I tore because I pushed so quickly. I know I asked him about 12 times if he was going to use a local anesthetic. Childbirth without drugs serves a good purpose; stitches without them is silly!  He laughed and asked if I wanted them. I was very enthusiastic when I said yes. I said that I wanted my baby back, and the nurses said they were trying to get him warm. I told them that I was plenty warm enough to warm him and he wanted to nurse again. They gave him back to me, and he nursed again. I did have to trade back and forth with him on the bili lights to make the nurses happy, though. 

When they moved me to a new room, I told the nurse I had to go to the bathroom, and she insisted on helping me to the bathroom. She was surprised at how easily mobile I was, which I found somewhat amusing. It’s amazing what you can do when you can move your own legs! (With #1, I couldn’t move anything below my ribs until about 10am the next day, she was born at 12:37am; it was awful.) After the bathroom, I asked her to help me with my sweatpants, I had refused to wear the hospital gown the whole time. She joked about me liking to be covered in my own clothes. I said yes, I was just more comfortable that way. She took me to my new room, and we ate dinner - it was actually very good! Scott went with the nurse to give #2 his first bath, and when he brought him back, he was snugly wrapped in a blanket inside a stocking! I wish I had that picture to show you, but it's trapped on a dead laptop, still in my garage, hopefully awaiting a resurrection. 

12-27-2013, 8 years old 


Anonymous said...

You are so awesome. Love the story and I am sure your son appreciates not being born into a toilet bowl!

Sarah--Well Rounded Birth Prep said...

What an amazing ride! And the beginning of many "natural" journeys... Thanks for sharing, and thanks for the advice to get a pic of baby in stocking.

Wendy J said...

Yahhhh - welcome delicious babe. Thanks, momma, for protecting him. xo.

Joyful Baby Planning said...

Great birth story. Awesome that you got to show some nurses how a natural labor is done! I can't believe, or maybe I can, that there are nurses who have never seen a natural birth. It's sad, really.

beccalouise said...

thanks for sharing your story. I am preparing for natural birth and I like to hear positive stories. thanks!

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