Here is what I hope is not a too long recount of Nora’s birth. It’s not an experience that is easily documented. Even though I journaled everything that happened, some things are still a bit hazy. It was the most amazing, intense, raw experience of my life. I promise to do my best not to ramble too much. I loved reading birth stories while I was pregnant, so I hope someone finds encouragement from our story. But feel free to skip this post if that’s not your thing!
Nora’s birth was everything I hoped for and nothing like I expected. It was no secret that I really struggled in the waiting. I so desperately wanted a natural birth and wanted to avoid being induced. I also really struggle with letting go of control and didn’t like not knowing when she would arrive.
Thursday my sweet husband sent me to get a prenatal massage. AMAZING. He made me promise to actually relax through it and stop thinking about when I would go into labor. Apparently it worked, because my water broke later that night. That evening, I was bouncing on my exercise ball, hanging out with Zach and my mom. I leaned forward and thought I felt what could be my water leaking. There wasn’t a big gush, so I didn’t know for sure. I waited a while before saying anything, but finally texted Zach, “Do not react to this message, but I think my water just broke.” I didn’t want to get my mom’s hopes up if it wasn’t the real thing! After I was convinced this was in fact really happening, we sent her home and called our doula, Jess.
*Side note* I cannot recommend having a doula enough. Jess was absolutely amazing. She was such a great source of guidance, comfort, support. She was a rockstar throughout labor, and I really don’t think I would have made it through without her.
Right after my water broke. Feeling quite large!
Jess suggested that I try to get some rest. Ha! I laid in bed watching How I Met Your Mother for a while. At this point, I was having contractions that were pretty mild, but becoming intense enough that I was no longer talking through them. The most stressful thing for me was knowing when to go to the hospital. I’ve never been in labor, so how was I supposed to know how intense contractions were? We knew we wanted to home as long as possible because once we were in the hospital things could potentially slow down and it would become more difficult to avoid interventions.
We decided to try to watch a movie. Zach secretly timed my contractions, but I never knew how far apart they were. They had had picked up in intensity so I knew whatever we chose I would have a hard time paying attention. I got frustrated looking and ended up choosing Men in Black 2. Haha! During the movie I started needing to be on my hands and knees through each contraction. It wasn’t long after this that we decided it was time to make the 20 minute drive to the hospital.
When we arrived the fire alarm was going off! Not the sound a woman in labor wants to hear. Thankfully, it was turned off quickly after our arrival. When the nurse checked me I was 4 centimeters dilated. I was disappointed, but tried not to get discouraged. They moved me to our labor/delivery room. Our hospital really was great, and the staff was very accommodating.
After getting checked in. Fueling up with coconut water to stay hydrated and avoid an IV.
As soon as we were settled in our room I got in the labor tub. Being in the water caused my contractions to really pick up. I would rest in between then move to my hands and knees with my head on Zach’s arm during each contraction. I kept a cold wash cloth on my neck or head all throughout labor. Jess put peppermint essential oil in a tub of ice water and kept refreshing the cloths for me. They felt amazing! I was so torn between being hot and freezing. I shivered pretty consistently throughout labor, but desperately needed the ice cloth on my head.
One of the hardest parts during labor was having Nora’s heart rate monitored. I had to be hooked up to the fetal for about fifteen minutes every so often. I hated feeling trapped to one spot, and I hated having the monitors around my belly.
I spent a lot of my time leaning into Zach while being monitored with Jess rubbing my back. Some time after this I was checked again and told I was at 7 centimeters. I started feeling really discouraged. I kept telling Jess and Zach that I didn’t think I could do it anymore. They were both amazing encouragements. From start to finish I was in labor for 16 hours, but I had no concept of time during. I just knew I was tired!
I had written down several Bible verses for labor. At the peak of my discouragement, I asked Zach to get them. He read them over and over to me during contractions. It is such a sweet memory to me now…leaning into my husband as he spoke truth over me.
Things were really starting to get intense. And it is also about this time that things start to get really blurry for me. Again, I had no concept of time during labor. I got to this place outside of myself where my body took over and I was no longer in control. I couldn’t voice what I needed or wanted. With each contraction I had to allow my body to do what it wanted. At one point I was leaning over the bed with my face buried in one of the ice cloths. Zach got a fresh cloth and reached underneath me to refresh it. What he didn’t realize was I had started biting the cloths. When he put his hand underneath my face I bit him, hard! Oops!
Jess suggested Zach pray over me. I was laying in bed and feeling exhausted. Zach started praying what I’m sure was the sweetest prayer; I honestly can’t remember much of it. While he was praying a contraction hit, and I apparently cussed mid-prayer. Oops again!
When I finally was at 10 centimeters and it was time to start pushing, I was so tired. I remember saying, “I just want to sleep!” Pushing is a lot of work! All of our nurses at the hospital were amazing, but my doctor was kind of awful. She had never seemed really on board with a natural birth. She was extremely discouraging while I was pushing. She was even texting and taking phone calls at the foot of my bed. However, I think that her discouraging, doubtful attitude was part of what gave me the energy to keep pushing! I pushed for almost three hours. It was amazing to reach down and feel her head as I was pushing. I was shocked when I heard them say, “she has hair!” I was expecting a bald baby. Nora is a very wiggly baby and she entered the world that way too. Everyone commented while I was pushing on how they couldn’t believe how much she was moving. They didn’t have to tell me! There were several times that I yelled, “What is she doing?!” She’s been a dancer since birth, right? 🙂 At the very end, Nora’s heart rate started dropping so they needed to use a vacuum to get her out on the final push.
There are no words to describe what I felt as they placed my daughter on my chest. She wasn’t breathing well, so she immediately had to be taken to have a tube suction out her lungs. I kept asking if she was ok over and over again.
Thankfully she was just fine and was quickly returned to me. We unwrapped her so I could hold her skin to skin. Oh what a feeling. There is no other feeling in the world as sweet. We were allowed to stay in the labor/delivery room for several hours before being moved to our postpartum room. The hospital allowed us to wait to have any of the newborn screenings done for as long as possible to give us lots of time with our brand new baby girl.
Did I mention that Jess is also pregnant? She seriously was awesome!
When we did move to our postpartum room I wanted a shower! My recovery was so incredibly easy. Yes, I was sore, but I was up moving around shortly after birth have felt pretty amazing.
Giving birth was by far the hardest thing I have ever done. I had to tap into an inner strength I didn’t know I had. I had to become more vulnerable than I ever have before. There is no room for pride in childbirth. I had hoped to be this relaxed, peaceful woman. Instead, I needed to moan and move with each contraction. I walked around naked and could have cared less if George Clooney walked in the room. My husband accompanied me to the bathroom where I pooped in front of him. No room for pride or modesty. But all of that vulnerability brought me so much closer to my husband. I love him so much deeper than I ever thought possible. I absolutely could not have made it through labor without him. He was such a huge source of strength.
Labor was an extremely spiritual experience for me as well. It was an amazing opportunity to cling to God’s promises. And now the verses Zach read over me will forever hold such a special place in my memories. I cannot not tell you enough how glad I am that I chose to attempt a natural birth. I have never felt so empowered. I would choose a natural birth again in a heartbeat. I’ll spare you any more ramblings about childbirth, but will gladly share more with anyone interested. But, no matter how a baby comes into this world, birth is always beautiful.
So there is a very choppy version of miss Nora’s birth. It’s hard to believe it all happened just three short weeks ago. And I know that as amazing as childbirth was, that was just the beginning of an even more amazing adventure.