Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Lilla's Natural Birth ~ Part One

From the start I knew baby number four's labor and birth would be different from my other three. Pitocin'd, epidural'd inductions with both boys (which went wonderfully as inductions go) and a natural start but epidural finish with Evie were all I knew of childbirth. But when I found myself pregnant for the fourth time I had this desire to see myself do childbirth without pain medication...or "au natural" as people like to quip. I just knew my body could do it without all of the interventions and I was excited to experience that.

I was thrilled when the hospital where I work opened a brand new (completely gorgeous) low-risk birthing center run exclusively by midwives. I began seeing my midwife around the 20 week mark and was so pleased with the extra mile she seemed to go in her care. "If I were a midwife I'd want to be her." Is what I told the husband after just about every appointment. She was the mama I needed and the friend whose hand I could hold and the expert with the opinions that mattered.

Week 37 of my pregnancy I began having false labor. This business that would wake me up almost like clockwork around three in the morning. Contractions that would come at regular intervals and felt like The Real Thing for hours until...they didn't anymore. I would get up to manage the pain thinking, this could be it! and as soon as I got up they would slow and then stop.

Here's a little tidbit about me: I'm not a patient, long-suffering lady. I'm...well, I'm a bear when I'm pregnant. A snarling, short tempered, hairy beast.

So. When those contractions would come and get my hopes all up and interrupt my coveted slumber and then just S T O P (Girls, they would just STOP. Just like that. The end. No labor. No baby.) it woke the hibernating mama bear and pissed her off royally. The bear would roam the house by day in a frustrated rage and then toss in bed by night cursing her body. I didn't handle it with grace. Not proud to admit.

All that to say - when I hit 40 weeks (Oct 27) and still had no sign of baby other than this infuriating prodromal labor phenomenon I was a bit of a mad woman. I saw my midwife at 40 weeks and 1 day. The non-stress test was great and baby was happy as a pretty little clam in her water world. I think my left eye started to twitch neurotically when the midwife said, "She's floating really high, not even engaged. You're a little dilated. Everything's perfect." with a big smile on her face. Irritating woman.

She offered the membrane sweep and I said "yes please" and she did quite a thorough job of sweeping those membranes right out. Big ouch. And then she looked me in the eye, rubbed my belly and said with eyes full of sympathy, "Want me to do it again?" Blessed woman. I absolutely wanted her to do it again. She gave me a 10 minute breather - in which I had a tearful conversation with my husband - and came back to repeat her magic a second time.

Another belly rub and a confident assurance that she thought she had done what needed to be done to kick- start my labor and I was out the door. Before she sent me away she gave me instructions for the day: go have lunch, take a brisk hour-long walk and then relax. "Put on soothing music, take a warm bath with good-smelling oils and tell your body, 'if I have a baby today, wonderful! if I don't, wonderful!' She will come when she comes." And that was that. I left the birthing center feeling large, weepy, and gloriously crampy.

We stopped for sandwiches on the way home. I took my walk and those cramps kept coming. I got myself in the bathtub, turned off all the lights and diffused some of my essential oils. I listened to my Hypnobabies track and dozed and replayed all of the good things my midwife had said in my last appointments.

She said once my body finally did go into labor it would be beautiful and meaningful and everything I had hoped for. She reminded me that I chose this route for a reason and that experiencing birth this way was what I wanted (this was said when I was dangerously close to asking about the prospect of pitocin induction...I think she could see it in my eyes. Told you she was good.). She said that although baby was never engaged or even close to being in the birth canal that that was pretty typical of a fourth baby and she may not even engage until I began to push...and that was okay. She said babies who do that have gorgeous heads because they never have time to get smooshed. She said my body had the perfect structure to have a quick and easy birth and not to worry. I thought about all of those good things and tried to tame mama bear as much as possible.

Beck - my oldest - had soccer practice that night and so we headed out as a family to the soccer fields. And I strapped on my walking shoes and became That Pregnant Lady who had fire in her eyes and relentlessly walked around and around and around that walking track. Everyone I passed wisely kept their mouths shut and gave me knowing looks and let me do my work. I walked. I walked through some good contractions and I just breathed in the air and took in the gilded leaves on the trees and told baby, "it's okay to come now...it's okay."

We got home around seven and I made dinner, slowly. The cramps were intensifying and some became what I would call strong braxton hicks but nothing really impressive. Nothing to even compare to my false labor that I'd been dealing with. So I ate a piece of toast, wandered around the house, packed our bags (again), called my parents and said, "maybe tonight, maybe not" (again), cried to my husband (again), and ultimately went to bed pregnant. Again.

I figured even if this was it I should probably sleep a bit while I could. And I did sleep. From about 10:30 until 2 am. When something woke me up. A contraction. A good one. But it wasn't much different from all of those other middle-of-the-night wake up calls when nothing real was happening. Except for my visit to the bathroom. That's when things went from groggy, "here we go with false labor again." to "oooohhh...maybe this is IT."

My mucous plug made quite a flashy appearance. (Good Lord, I hope none of my high school boyfriends are reading this. Or any boys for that matter...) I had never seen this impressive bit before, having lost it with my previous babies when I was in active labor and pretty far along. I just never noticed it confined to my hospital bed.

So there I was. In my bathroom, staring at my undies and breathing through a decent contraction at two in the morning on Wednesday, October 29th. I was 40 weeks and 2 days pregnant. And all I could think was, "Aw, this probably isn't it. I shouldn't bother anyone."

{This story is getting quite lengthy. So I'm going to break it into two parts. Part #2 goes quite quickly so it shouldn't be nearly as long. 'Til next time...}


  1. you know how to write a good cliff hanger ;) I will give you that! lol

  2. At least we know it all turned out beautifully!

  3. Seriously?! To be continued?! You're killing me, Ashley. Just killing me.
    - Kendra Russell -

  4. (Haha. It did put my name. I thought it'd be creepy if I commented and it didn't lol. You can see how much I do these blog things...)


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