Natural Birth Story, but no sense of empowerment or accomplishment

“July 18: Due date. Nothing happened.

July 19: Went walking at the botanical gardens in the afternoon. Felt tired out. My husband proclaimed the baby would come on Sunday. After all, when my daughter was born we went for a long walk on Sabbath and she was born on Sunday.

July 20: Contractions on and off all day. Would have several in a row, then they would peter out. A couple hours later would have some more and they would peter out.

3:20 Had a new set of contractions begin, and my water broke. Just a trickle, but it was exciting to know this was the real thing! But then I worried they would peter out like the other ones had earlier. I kept busy, set my stuff out to go to the hospital, and after a bit had to stop and sway or rock in a rocking chair during each contraction. They kept going, probably averaging about 5 minutes apart but only 30 seconds long. Figured I had a long way to go.

5:30 Called the doula and asked her to come over. Wondered when to call the doula, as I was managing quite well on my own, but I figured I ought to call her before I really needed her so she would be there when I did really need her. I was moaning more and being less comfortable in the rocking chair during contractions than I had been. But the rocking chair was amazing for contractions! It felt so good. This time during labor my back never hurt like last time. It hurt bad all across my lower abdomen instead.

6:00 I stopped puttering around the house during contractions and holed up in my room and didn’t get off the chair.

6:20 The doula arrived. Things were a lot more intense but contractions were still short. We soon discovered that the contractions were much closer together and longer if I was standing up and moving around the room and shorter and milder when I sat down. I was torn between making it easier for myself and getting things moving. Jerryn asked how we would know when to leave for the hospital. The doula assured him that I would know and I would tell them. I was afraid I wouldn’t know, though. I started to feel like I really wanted to go to the hospital because then I could have the baby, but I knew that was silly because going to the hospital wouldn’t make anything happen faster.

7:00 I’m not sure the time frames for the rest of the time at home. Sometime probably after 7 I was wailing to the doula that I didn’t want to do this, that I just couldn’t do labor, that it was too hard. Something in the back of my mind told me that was a sign of transition–the feeling that you just can’t do it anymore. But I knew it wasn’t true because obviously I hadn’t been in labor long enough yet and most contractions weren’t even a minute long. I told myself that I was only feeling this way because I didn’t think I could handle this pain for hours more on end like I knew I would have to. I refused to admit it could be transition.

Then I got chills and sweats. I knew that was a sign of transition too, but so many of my contractions were still on the short side. I knew it couldn’t be. After all, last time I stayed at home until my contractions were probably a minute and a half long coming right on top of each other. Then I went to the hospital, was dilated only 4 cm, and it was still 14 hours before the baby was born. So I felt things surely weren’t advanced enough to go to the hospital let alone be in transition since the contractions were all less than a minute. Around this point, though, I did ask my husband if the truck was packed. He said it wasn’t but he immediately packed everything as he knew that meant I would want to leave soon.

Then on one contraction I felt some rectal pressure and that concerned me. I still thought just maybe it was only because I actually had to go to the bathroom, but deep down I knew better. I told the doula and she suggested I go sit on the toilet and see if I did have to go. So I did, but then I had a contraction and that’s when I knew. My last labor the pushing stage was long and I spent quite a bit of time pushing while sitting on the toilet. It was the most comfortable and effective position for pushing. So this time when I sat on the toilet and had a contraction I felt like pushing so badly. I couldn’t deny it any longer. I told the doula, and she had me sit in the chair for one more to see if I still felt that way, and the next contraction I definitely had to push too.

We sprang into action for an immediate departure. I tried to stop in the hallway to get through a contraction, but the next one came right on top of it and the doula refused to let me stop and rushed me out the door, me yelling that I had to push.

7:40 The doula got in her van and my husband got in the driver’s seat of the truck and we raced out the driveway. He had his smart phone on his lap, but as we swung onto the road it fell off his lap and disappeared somewhere. I asked if he knew where to go. I had never even been to the hospital. He assured me he did and took off at top speed, passing the doula and leaving her behind.

I knew that low moans are most effective for opening the cervix and pushing the baby out. I had always been coached not to scream because the effect of the contraction would be lost. I decided since I obviously didn’t want these contractions to be effective I ought to just let loose and scream. My husband asked if I wanted to stop at the local small town hospital. While I really didn’t think I would make it the 35 minute drive to the city hospital, I said no. The small town hospital doesn’t deliver babies; I knew they would just put me on an ambulance and take me to the city anyway, so I told him to keep going.

I had a few short breaks between some contractions where I was able to talk and catch a short rest, but the rest of the time I screamed, ground the seatbelt between my teeth, and yelled that I had to push, that the baby was coming and that we wouldn’t make it. My husband kept telling me we would make it, but I knew we wouldn’t. I could feel the baby’s head trying to come out. I knew it was right there. I couldn’t even sit; I sat on the very edge of the seat and laid back against the seat.

My husband drove as fast as he could. He says the speedometer maxed out at 105 mph and he doesn’t know how much faster than that we were actually going. I continued to insist I would never make it. Between contractions once I said we were going to make the news for having a baby by the side of the road like I’ve seen about other people on the news recently. My husband again insisted we would make it. I began to think it really wouldn’t be so bad, though. So what if the baby came right now? I told my husband that the baby would probably be born right here in the truck but that I was okay with that and I didn’t mind. He said that was not okay and I didn’t want that, and of course he was right. I prayed and begged God to just make the contractions and pushing stop until we got to the hospital, but of course they didn’t. The one good thing about this whole ordeal, I thought, was that it really would be over soon. I wouldn’t have to be in labor all day after all. Convinced the baby really would emerge at any moment, I reached up under my skirt and yanked off my underwear and grabbed the towel we had brought and stuffed it under me because I realized I was bleeding. I stuck my finger inside and immediately touched the baby’s head, though it wasn’t actually crowning and visible from the outside yet. I figured that even if the baby wasn’t actually born in the truck that I would need my underwear off pretty quick anyway.

We were rushing through town now and my husband kept assuring me we were almost there. He found the road to turn on but then we saw ahead that the road was closed. (It turned out that the road closure was actually just past the next turn we would have to make, but we didn’t realize that.) So we turned around and tried to find another street that would take us to the hospital. Having dropped his phone, my husband was now trying to find his way through an unfamiliar part of town without any map and without knowing the name of a street that would take us where we needed to go. He made another turn that I thought was the right one (it was) but he thought he hadn’t gone far enough so he turned off through a residential area trying to find a different street. I kept yelling at him to just find the hospital and screaming in terror and agony. Finally he found what he thought was the right street (it was) but I didn’t trust him by now. I told him to pull over and find the phone. It had fallen under his seat. He got it out and discovered we were only 1 minute from the hospital and were on the right road.

8:12ish: Then we pulled into the hospital. I had no idea what entrance to use for L&D, so we pulled up to Emergency, and actually ended up at the ambulance entrance. I said I had to have a wheelchair, that there was no way I could walk in. My husband dashed inside, but since it wasn’t the main entrance he couldn’t find anyone at first. Finally he found someone and told them to hurry and get a wheelchair, that his wife was in labor and it was an emergency. They probably thought he was just a frantic, overly worked up father and took things much too calmly and moved too slowly for his liking. But when they finally got out to the truck with the wheelchair and found me writhing and screaming they suddenly agreed with his assessment of the level of emergency! They dragged me out of the truck into the wheelchair where I half laid as they literally ran down the hallways to L&D. Fortunately we didn’t have to take an elevator. Meanwhile my husband went to park the truck.

I kept up my yelling and screaming all through the halls. I saw two people in L&D who looked like visitors kind of staring at me. I knew I was making quite a spectacle, but I didn’t care one bit. They rushed me into a delivery room. I think the resident doctor was already in the room. If not, he came in at the same time I did. He said later that he had heard me coming. I’m sure he did! They got me onto the bed, slid me into position, and pulled up my skirt. The resident by this time was properly attired and slid his gloved finger inside to check me. But when he immediately encountered the baby’s head he forgot about that and called for birth supplies. The doula, not having made any wrong turns, had arrived before us and was with me by this time. I stopped screaming, knowing I could go ahead and make my contractions count now. I kept asking where my husband was, if there was someone to tell him where we went. The nurses kept saying, “Where’s the dad? Wait. Don’t push until he gets here.” I basically said I didn’t care and he could just deal with it if he missed the birth. I had waited long enough.

My husband did arrive about 5 minutes after I got in the room. The resident doctor was amazing and coached me how to pull on my own knees to maximize the opening, how to breathe to maximize each push. This seemed much more effective than the positioning I had for my previous delivery where someone else was holding my feet. But I did have an epidural that time so there wasn’t much option. I had been a little afraid what the actual birth would feel like since I didn’t feel the last one. The ring of fire was very real, but the desire to get the baby out overcame all that and I willingly and vigorously pushed through it all.

8:24: Within 10 minutes of arriving into the room and I think 3 contractions with several pushes each contraction, baby boy was born! The doctor asked if I wanted to delay cord clamping. I really appreciated him asking because that was important to me but I wasn’t thinking about it in the intensity of the moment.

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While it would appear we arrived with 10 minutes to spare, I really don’t think he would have been born after another 10 minutes in the truck. It did take a great deal of effort and positioning to actually deliver. Still, we didn’t have any time to spare!

My sister asked me afterward if it felt amazing and empowering to give birth naturally. I had to say no. I felt so out of control and wondering if we would make it to the hospital was so stressful. For months, I couldn’t tell the story without wanting to cry. I felt far more empowered and euphoric about the birth of my first when I had to have an epidural and forceps delivery because I was able to make decisions about the process. This time I was just traumatized by barely making it to the hospital.”

Janice’s first birth was quite a different story. Read about it here!

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Natural Birth Story, but no sense of empowerment or accomplishment
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