The time has come and I think I am finally ready to share my experience with the world, and portions of my birth video (trust me you don’t want to sit though 18 hours of labor on video).
I am inspired to share my story but I know there are many eyes that shouldn’t see all the honesty and glory. So, you’ve been warned. If you don’t want to see (or are too young to see) unedited birth footage and graphic talk you should stop reading this post.
Tonight I was in the tub and reading another woman’s birth story in my latest copy of Mothering magazine. I’ve read lots and lots of birth stories… They are my favorite thing to read.
[POPUP=IMG1]Each woman takes something different from their own birth story and all the stories have some new insight or a new point of view to consider, plus they make me all warm and fuzzy feeling. This is why I feel inclined to share mine.
I know most everyone expects that childbirth will be painful, hard work. Some women even describe it as a right of passage or an awakening. I agree with them, it is all of those things. Most importantly, it is something you can do in whatever way you feel is best. For me that meant all natural and out of the hospital. This is another reason I am sharing my story as natural “home birth” is something few do and many think is crazy. It is not.
Now, the one thing that sticks out from all of the stories is “the ring of fire” that everyone describes as you transition from pushing to crowning time in childbirth. Many birth stories make this part out to be the hardest part of the experience.
Some describe it as a burning sensation where the most pain is observed. It is usually as the baby crowns if I am not mistaken. I had been warned about it and was so ready for it.
For me there was no “ring of fire” and honestly birth wasn’t that unbearable. I had back labor that was super uncomfortable and required many showers and lots of hard massage to ease the aching bones. My labor wasn’t quick and I spent lots of time dilating while I rested and meditated.
Yes! I rested, meditated, napped, ate food and showered while in labor. It was what made me feel good and let me tell you, if you’ve never felt the soothing powers of water while in labor you are missing out. It was the best feeling ever! I think I want a water birth if/ when we have baby number two!
Anyway, back to my thoughts on labor pain. The real pain was when my midwife stretched me out… Not sure if this is normal since most women don’t mention it but I recall it and so does my husband. It was the only time I really yelled in pain. The rest of my vocalizations were primal and a helped me feel like I was pushing harder.
I remember lots of pressure and the urge to push during transition but I didn’t push because I wasn’t sure if I was fully dilated or not. It got very hard to fight the urge to push at the end of dilating and I did feel the pushing urge before I got to 10 cm.
Then when the time came to push we started out trying the flat on your back, knees to chest position and it felt all wrong. My legs got weak and the pushes felt ineffectual. It truly was all wrong for me and baby as it’s going against gravity. It also did cause Everly’s heart rate to slow (not to the point that she was in danger though).
After trying out several positions and taking a few more showers I finally ended up butt in the air on elbow/ hands and knees pushing, this felt more productive for me and less tiring. Pushing didn’t really hurt from what I remember but it was super exhausting and I remember feeling like I wasn’t doing it right and that my pushes weren’t actually doing anything.
When I look back at the video there were a few moments of real yelling where it seemed like I was in lots of pain. I don’t remember them though and they didn’t stop me from taking care of business. LOL. Like I said they were more primal and a means to get me pushing harder if that makes sense.
I remember feeling her move further down and then go right back up when the contraction and pushing was over. It didn’t feel good or bad, it just felt like she was retreating and it kind of bothered me as you’ll hear in the video.
One other thing I remember all to well is how annoyed I was with people touching me or talking to me while I was dilating. I was listening to my birthing tunes on the iPod and I was able to get myself successfully in the zone and to stay there the entire time I was dilating.
Violating the serenity of the atmosphere I was in really pissed me off and I about exploded at people a few times but stopped myself because I knew wasting energy was not a good idea. Energy conservation and potential pain management were the reasons I was meditating.
I didn’t set out to meditate during labor though. It just happen as I listened to my iPod and waited for my husband to arrive (he was 2 states away when my water broke) and it really worked for me so I kept it up.
I attempted to write a journal entry/ birth story back when I was about 8 weeks postpartum. Here is what I wrote:
“My water broke at about 7:30 am on June 22nd 2009. My mom and I were staying in my midwife’s cabin at The Farm waiting for labor to begin on it’s own. According to date counting Everly was due on June 25th 2009, according to the ultrasound size prediction she was due June 23rd 2009.
I was sound asleep when my water broke and I totally did think I was wetting myself when I woke up. I tried tightening my bladder muscles to stop the liquid flow and it didn’t work so I shot up out of bed, grunted “I think my water just broke” to my mom and waddled off to the toilet to pee and finish leaking.
My mom retrieved Pamela, my midwife, who previously instructed us to just enter her home and shout for her if we needed her. “Pamela!” My mom shouted, “Talina thinks her water broke”. Pamela responds “Oh, wow. I’ll be right over!”
While sitting on the toilet leaking amniotic fluid I called N at home but it was early and he didn’t answer so I hung up and turned my attention to getting cleaned up and not leaking water all over Pamela’s cabin. My mom made me some coffee and set in on the bed side table for me, I drank several gulps. While I tweeted the news for all my blog readers.
Pamela did come right over, she just looked at the bed and said “Yep, your water broke”. She said to put on a pad to absorb the leakage and to just go on about my day as normal. Contractions could start right away or they could take some time, she said… She did not examine me and she also advised me to not insert anything into my vagina or to go swimming, we wanted to prevent any risk of infection now that my membranes have ruptured.
After visiting with Pamela and confirming that my water had broken I tried to call N again and noticed that he had called me back while Pamela was over. When I finally got him on the phone he was just waking up. Actually my call woke him. Because of the time he had an idea of what I was calling about.
I told him he needed to head back to The Farm, my water broke, she is coming soon! He had just driven back home the night before so he could fulfill his work commitments and care for the animals. He got home around 10pm the night before, got to sleep through the night and now it was time to come right back, perfect timing!
It was kind of convenient too, he had to get a bigger rental car (that our new car seat would fit in) anyway and he was able to get a full night’s sleep before the excitement began. By 9:30 – 10am he was in the new rental and on the road to come witness the birth. We were both so darn excited.
My contractions had started by 9am but weren’t all that unbearable, basically they were like period cramps for me. I had back pain that was worse than the contractions but I am used to back pain so it wasn’t so bad for me to deal with.
I worked on finishing crocheting Everly’s name on the blanket I was working on and finished the lettering before 10am. Keeping yourself busy and not dwelling on the impending labor progression is what they recommend so I was doing my best to keep occupied.
Shortly after 10am my mom and I sat down to pancakes and hash browns (that she accidentally cooked with the plastic wrap still on them, we had a good laugh about this). Breakfast was good and the contractions weren’t all that bad either. They were about 3 min apart and I was still leaking amniotic fluid and looking like I wet myself. Ha.
After breakfast my mom and I resumed our crafting keepsakes for Everly. She’s cross stitching some wall art and I went back to crocheting the baby blanket. Yes we are still working on these crafts as I write this, neither are finished. We killed a good chunk of time crafting while we waited for N to get back to Summertown, TN.
By about 1pm my contractions were becoming longer in duration but still weren’t all that intense. The lower back pain was hard during the minute long contractions and I often had to stand still to lessen the back pain during contractions.
Pamela came by to check in on me and suggested I go for a walk and continue to keep busy. She said I shouldn’t worry about timing the contractions right now and that I should just keep my mind off them as much as I could to avoid becoming overly exhausted and exerting all my energy too early in labor.
Pamela was heading over to The Farm Clinic to do some teaching as they were having a midwife workshop that just began today. All the attendees were “a twitter” about my labor, everyone wanted to know how it was going. They were all so excited for us. There were so many capable Farm Midwives and midwives in training around. The perfect time to be in labor huh?
Anyway, after some crafting time my mom and I whipped up some brownies, put them in the oven to cook and went for a walk to The Farm Store which isn’t all that far away from our cabin (per Pamela’s advice). Walking there and back took about 20 min. since I had to stop every three min to have a contraction. They still weren’t killing me, just slowing me down and making walking hard/ slow.
We got back to the cabin to fresh brownies at about 1:16pm, N was still about an hour away so I laid down in bed to try napping for a bit. Napping early in labor is also a good idea especially since labor can end up lasting very long and you want to be well rested.
When I set my water down on the bedside table and was crawling in to bed I noticed a shape had formed in my coffee. I grabbed my camera and called my mom over to see. The shape of a perfect heart had formed in my coffee. Someone was sending me a message!
The heart was such an amazing thing to find and it just made me more and more excited about the amazing experience I was about to have. The heart in my coffee appeared at about 1:16 – 1:20pm, you’ll understand the significance of this later.
By 3:30pm N was back at The Farm and so relieved to have made it in time to witness the labor. I was still having contractions that weren’t that intense so we knew it was still going to be a while. N crawled in bed with me, we did a crossword and I kept crocheting.
From here on everything is blurred together in my mind.
It’s crazy how the hormones and adrenaline kick right in and transform you. I honestly can’t vividly remember details, it’s all just a blur and my concept of duration of time for the labor/ delivery is way off. Luckily my mom kept a video journal of the whole process (took 2 60 min tapes to record it all) and the midwives also kept a detailed birth journal detailing times, positions and dilation for our records. I’ve referenced our video and birth record to fill in the rest of the birth story.
At about 5pm my back pain became more intense, N rubbed my back for me. Oddly shaking my back and butt muscles helped ease the back labor/ pain. I’d read about this shaking technique in Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth in one of the birth stories and asked N to try it on me. You just grab the skin/ muscles and shake them during the contractions. It helped me a ton but I am sure it made N’s arms quite tired.
I began to feel nauseous by this point and had N grab me a “vomit bucket” just in case. I later learned that my nauseous feeling directly correlated with my cervical dilation. I would get a strong vomit urge that would last a few minutes at a time while my dilation increased, I never did throw up though.
By this time I had also began to listen to my birthing tunes on my iPod to keep relaxed. My favorite tune was Layers of Tranquility by Karunesh. The music really helped me stay internalized and in the relaxed zone which made dilating and the contractions easy to handle.
N says I never made a peep while I was dilating and contracting for hours. He says I actually started vocalizing at the very end of my pushing phase, like 30 minutes before Everly was born. Pamela also remarked at how relaxed and calm I was.
By 6pm I had dilated to 6cm and was still meditating. at about 10:30pm I was finally at 10 cm and able to start pushing.”
Here is the unedited 10 minutes where pushing brought my baby girl in to the world. I think it is a beautiful representation of the experience.
I felt like things went beautifully. I was able to relax and to totally focus on birthing the baby rather than getting all caught up in the discomfort or the excitement of the experience.
I got to hold my baby girl first and stay skin-to-skin until she was ready to nurse for the first time. We didn’t bathe or clean her until after bonding and relaxation time was over.
I am so glad we were blessed with the wonderfully, natural birth experience I’d hoped for. I am a better mother because of the experience and little miss Everly got a better start to life that way.