Note: This is a birth story… so there’s lots of stuff about bodily functions that are normally TMI. But reading birth stories was something that helped me prepare for labor and gave me ideas of what might help or other little tips so I wanted to write S’s birth story to hopefully be of help to others, as well as for our own memories.
Erina finished up with the tub and the placenta and came over to the bed to check me. She said I had a first-degree tear and told us she’d have to give me a few shots down there and wanted to know if I wanted to know when she was about to do them. I said yes. The whole stitching didn’t seem to take that long and although I could feel pulling (Erina said other people described it as feeling like someone is flossing down there, and that’s exactly what it felt like), it didn’t bother me a whole lot, in part to the amount I was distracted, as well as hormones.
I finished the beef jerky stick and Ezra got me my coconut water, but I wasn’t really interested in eating. I was feeling good and was glad it was over. Elizabeth brought me ice packs and would help me go to the bathroom and clean me up afterwards, which rather than being embarrassing or annoying was really, really nice since everything was so messy. We rested for a while after that, although our phones were beeping a lot with texts coming in response to our announcement.
Delilah, another midwife, came and did the baby’s newborn exam on the bed – she weighed 6 lbs, 9 oz, and was 19.75 inches long and really healthy (her APGARs were 7 at 1 minute and 9 at 5 minutes). By dates she was 38 weeks, 5 days, but after the newborn exam they said 39 weeks, which made me happy.
Then at 11 I went to the bathroom for the second or third time and on the way back felt really lightheaded. I had passed a decent sized clot, but Elizabeth hadn’t seemed too concerned, although she said I was bleeding a little more than was good. Once I said I was lightheaded she got worried.
Ezra had gone to Jamba Juice to get me a protein smoothie and then was going to get me a bean burrito. They wanted me to eat protein, but nothing sounded good and we’d left our high-protein meal for after delivery at home on accident.
My uterus was firm, so they thought perhaps there was a clot stuck in my cervix, so Delilah checked and they got that out, which wasn’t really painful but was incredibly uncomfortable (I think the thought of what she was doing was the worst part). They cleaned me up from that and while doing that found a second-degree tear that was deeper in. Ezra had just come back and I was really scared.
Ezra: When I went to Jamba Juice, I found it was cash only because their system was broken, but I only had two ones and a hundred, and they told me that they couldn’t break the hundred. So I made the order and then ran to the nearby bank, which didn’t appear to have an ATM, so I ran further to a nearby 7-11 to use their ATM, which was confusing so that I had to go to the cashier to figure out how to make it work. Finally, I went back to Jamba Juice, paid for the smoothie, and went back to the birth center to drop it off and go get a burrito. Only, I found Kyleigh in the middle of getting her second set of stitches. I’m going to have issues leaving her so soon after a birth in the future.
I was also frustrated with myself because I’d done so well with the first set of stitches that I couldn’t figure out why I was having such a hard time. But I couldn’t relax even though I needed to for them to stitch me and was being really stubborn about it, so finally they all went out and Ezra and I had a few minutes to talk and pray. We realized that I was mentally “done” with stitches and so spent some time trying to re-prepare. Ezra went out to get them and in that time I talked to S and worked on relaxing my legs open completely, since I knew I’d have a harder time once everyone was back in.
Everyone was working so hard at distracting and helping me but I was still so aware of everything Delilah was doing (I was being really stubborn about that…). Then something reminded me of us trying to sing while I was in labor, so Erina said we should sing. I asked Ezra to grab the hymnal, since I knew I’d need something to look out to really occupy my mind. We sang hymn after hymn and it really, really helped me, although my singing was sometimes punctuated with moans (and the windows were open, because I was super hot… oh well). But singing was great to keep my mind off the stitching as well as ON God… and it felt fabulous, since I had my breath support back because baby was out!
I was still having trouble relaxing, so they let me take a break every so often. But I was starting to feel more down there and fight it again… which is when they informed me that they’d used all the lidocaine they could so when it wore off, that was it. They should have told me that sooner, because once they did I decided we were going to get through this NOW.
And we did. They finished, helped me over to the other side of the bed so they could clean up, and brought me more ice packs. Our birth class teacher, Trisha, was at the birth center for a meeting, so we asked if she could come up, and she came and visited for a few minutes. Ezra remembered that he hadn’t paid for very much for the parking meter so went out to put more money in… and found a ticket (we’ve appealed, submitting paperwork from the birth center about what was going on at that time! He had just parked to bring me my smoothie before going to get a burrito).
I went to the bathroom again and it felt SO much better and there was way less blood than before.
They discharged us at 1800, and we went home, ate dinner, fed S, and went to bed.
I still have moments where I can’t believe we did it. For the most part, it felt so doable, even with my water broken the whole time. I know we were incredibly blessed with the ease and length of the birth, and I don’t expect them all to be like that. I know that it was a gift from God, but I also know that there were important things I did to help prepare my body. While the gelatin may not have done much for my water bag, I’m pretty sure the dates and raspberry leaf tea as well as all the Spinning Babies I did really helped speed things along and will definitely be doing all that in future pregnancies.
I also think the Bradley techniques about relaxing helped, but the biggest thing we got out of Bradley method was the stages and emotional signposts of labor. I did do some visualization occasionally, but relaxing was incredibly hard. I think that their discussion of “pain” was a big help, though, in it not being too painful. I knew it would hurt, but I was analyzing all the pain throughout and asking myself “is this really painful or just uncomfortable?”
We’re so happy with our decision to stay at the birth center. Everything went WAY beyond our expectations, both in the medical and comfort side of things. We felt so safe and taken care of. The midwives and birth assistants were so thorough, aware, and prepared. We really did feel like we were at home, but without the hassle of having to worry about cleaning up our own bathroom, washing our own sheets, etc, as well as being in a place with more staff, more medical equipment, and more experience with transfers/a relationship with hospitals. This birth was my “ideal” birth, especially for a first baby, and I’m so thankful for the birth center helping us make that birth a reality!
It really didn’t feel like 12 hours, or really even like 6. I had no awareness of the length of time, it just was. We barely used anything we had for the birth, whether food, techniques, or tools like oils/rebozo, because it was so fast and I wanted to hold off until I felt like I really needed it, which I never did. Even so, next time I want to experiment more with relief techniques and different positions, especially for pushing. We were preparing ourselves for letting go of plans with things going wrong, but I wasn’t expecting for plans to change or things not to get used or done (time to read Lord of the Rings, listen to books on CD, play oboe, bake cookies during early labor? Yeah right) because of things going so fast! I’m still glad for all the teaching we had and preparation I had done for pain relief and helping labor along, even though we didn’t use any of it.
The worst part in the moment was definitely the second time they had to stitch me, but the part I dread the most for next time is the second half of pushing.
Looking back over the contractions we timed (From our contraction timer, we’d timed 9 contractions before bed, and then 72 from 1 AM – 4:30. I was curious and counted during a midnight feeding…). and the records from the birth that we got from the midwives, I really am amazed that we made it through. It WAS intense and painful and hard. The way God designed the female body is absolutely incredible, everything from hormones to healing. So is the way He helped us through it and gave me Ezra and an amazing birth and postpartum team to help me through it. We are so thankful for His help and protection.