I knew prior to getting pregnant that I wanted to have a natural childbirth. I purposely found a holistic practice that supported the idea that women and their bodies know how to give birth without routine interventions. I got a lot of “you just wait” and “you’ll see” from women who had already had children. Most women are simply not supportive of this choice. But I was determined to do it the way I wanted. Throughout my pregnancy and labor I held fast to this thought – “We have a secret in our culture, it’s not that birth is so painful, it’s that women are so strong” – Laura Stavoe Harm
Although I knew I wanted a natural childbirth I thought it would be a good idea to find a doula. Since I didn’t really know what I was in for, or how I would react, I thought it would be beneficial to have a doula assist me and my husband. I met Wendy for the first time at one of her pre-natal classes. I loved her immediately. There were couples everywhere and some of then had brought their children. It was crazy but Wendy remained her normal self. I thought to myself, “THIS is the kind of person I want to have in case I go crazy!” My husband, Justin, was very hesitant at first. However, after reading information about a doula’s role and meeting Wendy he was sold.
I was due on June 27th. I started to dilate and efface in my 34th week of pregnancy. I’m a teacher and am constantly moving and my doctor suggested that I stop working. So I quit working at 35 weeks and rested at home.
On Saturday, June 9th (37 weeks) after planting my flowers, buying a new car and finishing up the last of the shopping at Babies R’ Us, Justin and I headed to Costco. I felt a little sick and sweaty. It was close to 90 degrees so I didn’t really pay too close attention to it. Justin wanted to look at the TV’s while I checked in the bathroom but I made him go with me! Sure enough…it did. I was mortified!! I ran out as fast as I could! Talk about having social anxiety!
In the car on the ride home I freaked out realizing this was really going to happen. I also knew I was now on a 24 hour time window and that my contractions needed to start if I didn’t want to be induced. I started getting contractions soon after and immediately started to breathe through them. They were very easy but I felt like I needed to get a handle on the situation, to calm myself down. I got home and called Wendy. We agreed to wait and call the doctor and birth center when things started to pick up.
My contractions started around 4:30p.m. I laid around at home and went for a walk around the block. I even asked my husband to get me a whopper meal from Burger King (and I NEVER EVER eat fast food). The contractions started to get more intense around 10:30p.m. and I was finding it harder to concentrate through them. Justin called the birth center to let them know we were coming. It was so sweet- he asked for the room that had the tub with the jets! We called Wendy and left for the hospital at 11:00 p.m. When we got there I was disappointed to find I was still only at 3-4 cm (which I had already been at for a week). I knew the waiting game had begun!
I labored in the shower and on a yoga ball until about 4:00 a.m. My contractions were all over the place and not consistent. I was out of it and had no idea some were as far as 10 minutes apart and others 3 min. apart. I was just relaxing between each one trying to concentrate. Wendy gave me some special herbs to try and regulate. I remember she gave me the choice of cranberry or apple. I thought to myself, “Seriously? That’s what I have to choose from? Why can’t chocolate be a choice????” I chose cranberry because I figured it was a good preventive for a possible UTI (hee heee). Around 4:00 a.m. the contractions became more consistent and I got into the tub.
I thought I would be really excited to get into the tub. However, looking back I was just happy to have a change of position. I can’t say that the water was the ultimate pain reducer I had read about. It was just nice to float around.
Things went quite fast after that. I progressed from 4-9 centimeters in about an hour. It was hard work …no lie. I went from belly breathing to moaning. You know…the attractive low “OOooooooo” sound. It was very painful and it felt good to make more noise than the pain. It was like rising through it. But I knew I could do it. I just needed to concentrate and let my body do its thing. Not one time during the entire process did I doubt my decision or my ability to handle the situation. I knew I could do it. I started to feel the urge to push and got out of the tub. I was at an 8 so they called my midwife and I got back in the tub. My midwife arrived at 5:00 a.m. and checked me shortly after. I was fully dilated and ready to push! I was so relieved to get started. The pushing was a lot of hard work but I never felt any pain. Like most women remark it felt painful to NOT push. I felt nothing when I was pushing. In fact I kept saying, “There’s so much pressure…should I push now?” Interestingly, when I was done pushing I mistakenly believed that I didn’t tear! I didn’t feel anything. After an hour of pushing our baby was born (3 weeks early). Scarlett Caroline made her entrance on Sunday, June 10th at 6:09 a.m. She weighed 6 lbs. 9 oz. and was 19 ½ inches long.
It was a truly wonderful experience. And I cannot say enough good things about Wendy or the Alternative Birth Center. I was laughing and joking throughout labor/pushing. I even tell people it was fun:). I greatly encourage other women to pursue a natural childbirth. Don’t be afraid to stand up for what you want despite what people might think or say!