the birth story, part 2

You should probably go grab some organic greenbeans and hummus; this is a long one. So long, in fact, that I considered making it 2 installments, but because I’m just so nice and because I swear I’m not actually trying to be dooce, who is presently blogging about her natural childbirth in 3 parts, I decided to leave it be. All 1554 words of it.

Spoiler alert: I end up with a baby.

Chapter 3: How’d We Get Here?

You guys, I love water. I love hot tubs and bubble baths and showers and oceans and water-skiing and anything involving soaking in water. Some people need a beer or to watch Brian Williams on the Nightly News, but when I need to relax, I need water. Preferably large quantities of deep, warm, bubbly water.

I think this is what led me to have a natural birth in the first place: somewhere along the line I read about waterbirth.*

*I could not find a good website that discussed waterbirth that did not also have a large picture of a nearly-naked, just-gave-birth woman. I don’t want to be held accountable for linking someone to that if they don’t care to see it, so I would like to suggest googling “waterbirth” and clicking at your own discretion if you want to learn more.

Bottom line of waterbirth: hang out in a hot tub while I labor and end up with a baby.

My first thought: Where do I sign up?

Ok, so there’s a little more to it than that, but seriously! Laboring in a hot tub of water! Please try with me to wrap your mind around the awesomeness.

I know. I couldn’t either.

After researching more into hospitals that support waterbirths, I learned that waterbirth and having a huge needle in your spinal column actually don’t mix. In other words, if I wanted to do the water thing I could not do the epidural thing, but somehow the idea of not having an epidural sounded better to me than having one. This is not because I’m afraid of needles (which, as a faithful blood-giver, I’m not), but because I’m afraid of huge needles in my spinal column. ::shudder::

So, after DanO did not discount me as a total loon for wanting to have his first born son while sitting in a jacuzzi, we began looking into this realm of natural childbirth more seriously, at which point I found myself asking the question:

“Hey, if the epidural is off the table anyway, why not scrap all of the drugs while we’re at it?”

Then, as quick as a flash, we’d completed 10 weeks of natural childbirth classes which trained me in how to fully relax my body for contractions (instead of having drugs do the relaxing for me), et voila, suddenly I’m laying on a hospital bed in a drafty gown dilated to 7cm.

Chapter 4: Laboring on

After our doula, R, (whom I had remembered to call…) arrived and we were given a room, my first order of action was to get into the water because I absolutely love water.

Oh, I did? Sorry.

I spent a little time in a deep bathtub (this was just a bathtub for laboring, not a birthtub which look something like this). DanO and I had packed a few things to occupy ourselves if labor was a long haul, including a book we were reading together for fun. While I relaxed in the tub, DanO read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy aloud to me, pausing for contractions.

That’s right, OBaby, you came into the world to the croons of your father reading me a science-fiction novel. If that doesn’t scream “destined for nerdiness greatness” I don’t know what does.

After my fingers were sufficiently wrinkly and Ford Prefect had been reunited with his semi-cousin Zaphod Beeblebrox, I decided to get out of the tub and lay down for a while.  By the grace of God, I spent the next 40 min to an hour sleeping in couple minute spurts between contractions. Psychologically that was exactly what God knew I needed after being awake at that point for 24 hours. DanO was faithfully by my side the whole time.


Because who doesn’t want a picture of themselves in labor published for the world interweb to see?

As far as using the techniques and tools from our Bradley classes to help me relax: It completely worked. DanO and my doula R had minimal coaching to do to help me relax; I found my groove, tuned into my body, and went completely limp for every contraction. Because of that and the beautiful way God created my body, not once did the thought occur to me that the pain was bad and I would like some pain killers to help myself deal with it. I was dealing with it and it really truly was working.

After the contractions were coming so close together as to not leave room for sleeping anymore,¬† my midwife suggested I help things out a bit by walking, sitting on a birthing ball, or at least standing. I was tired but it was like my body knew that this is absolutely what I needed to do right now and so I didn’t really think twice. I remember standing up from laying down with such “git ‘er done” resolve that the nurse told me to sit back down for a moment because “nobody wants to deal with a passed out laboring woman“.

After fighting off light-headedness, I sat on the ball, walked around, and stood, leaning on DanO for contractions. This went on for about 3 hours and the highlight was eating the best strawberry popsicle I’ve ever had somewhere around 6am. 12 hours without any electrolytes is a long time when you’re working on expelling a human being from your body.

Chapter 5: The Tub

Around 7:00am I decided that I was ready for the birth tub, having felt like my body had worked very hard for the last 6 hours and that I was close to OBaby’s arrival.

I could not have asked for a better birth team – DanO, R, my midwife, and our l&d nurse – they listened to me and went with what I was feeling my body tell me. No one (after the initial admitting nurse who questioned the validity of my labor based on my countenance) ever second guessed me when I said what I wanted to do or what I needed. I’m also beyond grateful that I was able to tell what I wanted to do and what I needed. I don’t believe I would have been as keenly aware of those things had I had drugs in my system.

It was almost like I was sitting back and watching my body work. You guys, it rocked.

It took us a while to get to the waterbirth tub, since I was still having closely spaced contractions and we stopped walking for each of them. I finally got into the deep water of the birthing tub and it felt glorious at first, but I spent the next hour and a half trying to find a comfortable position in which to labor. I think I was too short to fit well into the molded seat and I kept floating up. I quickly realized that I was no longer aware of what my body was doing. R asked me if I was feeling the urge to push and I said I didn’t know.

Turns out I hated the birthing tub, but hello, was I really going to get out now?

This is when my midwife did something for which I will forever be singing her praises:

Allison, it’s been about an hour and a half that you’ve been in the tub, and I like to ask my patients to get out of the water every 90 minutes or so to go to the bathroom.”

So I “had to” at least step out for a bit. Then: WHAM. The first contraction I had outside of the water and the urge to push that it brought with it hit me like a… like a… LIKE A LATE STAGE LABOR CONTRACTION. Could there be a better analogy? It felt like my insides were yanking themselves toward my outsides and screaming at me to PUSH FOR HEAVEN’S SAKE, WE WANT TO HAVE THIS BABY ALREADY.

If I’d had the ability to breathe let alone think above all the screaming my insides were doing, I would have stopped, taken her by the hand, looked my midwife in the eyes and thanked her profusely for making up that bit about the every 90 minutes so that I would get out of the tub because she could tell how uncomfortable I was.

Instead I mumbled “I’m having the baby on the bed.” under my breath, which no one actually made out.

They must have put the pieces together when I waddled over to the bed in the room and laid down on it. I got comfortable, worked with those impossibly strong urges, and 65 minutes of pushing later I picked up my baby and held him to my chest.


Oh man. That picture kills me every time.

Chapter 6: In Conclusion

And then I cried. A lot. And don’t tell him I told you, but… DanO did too.

Micah Daniel

Born 10:10am July 16th 2009

7lb 11oz, 20.25 in

and perfect

31 Responses to “the birth story, part 2”

  1. Carrie

    That was beautiful Allison! It’s so great to hear that the Bradley classes helped you so much, that gives me sooo much encouragement! Thank you for sharing your story. I can’t wait to experience my labor and birth that God has in store for me! We are going for a waterbirth as well, so we’ll see if I actually give birth in it or not! God is so good and amazing in how he created our bodies to give birth. So wonderful.

  2. Sara Miller

    What a great birth story – you are a fantastic writer! I too have had all natural births – all 4 at home, with 2 being in water, 2 on the bed. It’s crazy how your body just KNOWS what to do. I’m so proud to be called “mom” after birth…ya know? GOOD FOR YOU!!!

  3. Abby

    I just love that you had a great experience. It’s so good to read a success story!! :) Never going through it myself, it really helps to hear positive stories! And seriously Micah is precious!
    Thanks for stopping by my blog:)
    Completely unrelated…
    -I ask for Coda to get a puppy cut and for them to shorten his ears. I found if they leave the ears long that he looks more like a poodle cut. The lady we go to knows exactly what we like, so i don’t even have to tell her anything anymore. I just drop him off and tell her to go to town! Which reminds me that i need to drop him off in the morning:)
    -my purses do have big pockets! One of my girlfriends requested a purse with a pocket big enough for wipes and a diaper so she could just carry her purse without a diaper bag at all times. We have thought about making actual diaper bags, but haven’t labeled them as diaper bags:)

  4. Hillary

    What a sweet story! It makes me excited to think about having a baby someday. You make the whole birth process sound so much less frightening than most people do!

  5. Lindsy

    I have on and off read your blog but my friend Abby said I should check out your birth story. It is amazing. So glad it was such a positive experience for you. Mine was actually really good too and I was with you until I remembered how I felt at 9 cm when I said “I don’t think I can do this without catching my breath first” and then I had an epidural. Ha! I didn’t have the waterbirth option at my local hospitals – you could labor in water but not deliver in water which is what intrigued me about it to begin with. I am glad you had so many wonderful resources there – thats awesome. I wonder – did you insurance cover having a doula and midwife? Ours at the time didn’t and we had a great policy. I wonder if more insurances are covering that now that is has become so popular a practice. I guess your local hospital worked well with them too. Anyhow – very cool and your baby is beautiful! Congratulations and thanks for sharing your story with us.

  6. The Olfelts

    Lindsy – Great question! I think it is definitely growing in popularity and I also know we were lucky to have a very forward thinking hospital only 20 min away. It is the only one of it’s kind here in the twin cities. Yes, our insurance covers midwives, in fact, the hospital where we delivered is linked to a midwives clinic who do most of the deliveries there. They have an OB clinic on call for any complications or emergencies that occur on a midwife birth. Doula services are not covered though, but our doula was going through the certification process with DONA (doulas of North America) and this was effectively her “student teaching” so she did not charge us. If I had to go back and we didn’t have that option, I would definitely be willing to pay for a doula for my first birth.
    I’m glad you enjoy the blog!

  7. Kelly @ Love Well

    What a great story. I’m all aglow. I’m so impressed with you, Allison. I hope all your births are just this wonderful. (And that all your babies are as cute as Baby O.)

  8. Anna B

    How utterly and completely wonderful! You two are amazing, and I heard from a birdy that it was the most beautiful birth she’s witnessed.
    Oh, and I might have cried too. (just a little- that dang picture!)

  9. Erin

    After reading your post about sleeping, I realized that our two boys are very close in age (mine was born July 18th) so I had to go back and read this! They were also apparently the same size at birth, weight and height.
    I’ve had two natural births and can’t rave enough about them–and yes, doulas are PRICELESS. Your birth story was absolutely beautiful.

  10. Terri

    I found your blog via ishouldbefoldinglaundry.com and her post about Cupcake ’10. I scanned back to your birth story (I’m a bit of a birth story junky…had my son William by natural childbirth last May)….and, what a beautiful story and a beautiful boy! Thank you for sharing! Now that I have another addicting mommy-blog to read, even less will be getting done around my house (sigh). I guess those dog-fur-tumbleweeds that are blowing around my house from our golden retriever can wait a few more minutes to get swept up… :)

  11. Julie P

    Sorry to be such a late arriver to the party, but this story was gorgeous! I had a similar experience with my own natural labor, and did not post the birth story, because I knew I would sound so smug. But you don’t! :D Maybe I’ll try to tell my story again…my daughter is now 13 mos old…but I still remember every detail! :)

  12. FutureMama

    Awesome story girl, I enjoyed all of it! I praise you for having a natural birth and for going with what your body told you to do! It makes me want to try it! We shall see!!! :)

  13. Ez

    Fabulous story! Exactly how I felt/feel about birth. I also thought I wanted a water birth, but I think I would be too uncomfortable in a tub.
    Having a positive attitude and believing in your body is what it’s all about.

    8 months on and congrats! You did awesomely!

  14. Savannah

    I just stumbled upon your blog this evening and ended up reading your birth story. I love a good birth story! Especially when no drugs are involved. You did such an awesome thing, I’m so happy for you! I cannot believe you were in labor for SO LONG, and were able to stay in “the zone”. I wanted a completely drug free birth as well, and luckily for me my labor only lasted about 3 hours. Unluckily for me, I was totally unprepared and they were the most painful 3 hours of my life! I thought I was prepared, but really I wasn’t in any way! I can’t wait to add to the family, but next time I’ll be better prepared.

    In other news, I love your writing style. Very engaging and witty. Thanks! :)

  15. I'm a full-time mummy

    Lovely posts, both of them! :)

    Love that pic of you resting on your side (you looked like you’re smiling) with DanO next to you, I had a pic like this too, only that I was lying on my side, with the Entonox gas mask on my face like a Darth Vader and my hubby busily taking pictures of me… *-*

    And the pic of you holding Micah… awesome! Thanks for sharing your birth story btw.

    If you’re free drop by and read mine: http://imafulltimemummy.blogspot.com/2009/08/my-supernatural-childbirth.html

  16. Michelle

    LOL, once I found out an epidural would involve a LARGE needle into the spine; I knew that was a no go for me ;)! I had a natural child birth with both my children, I HIGHLY recommend it to every women! I can’t even begin to explain the adrenalin rush or natural high that goes along with it…it’s a beautiful and amazing feeling.

    I did almost all my laboring in a hot as heck shower, my husband insisting I was going to burn myself while trying to turn down the temperature. I decided it was time to leave for the hospital when we ran out of hot water in the house…time to take advantage of the hospital’s hot water ;).

    Someone once explained child birth to me in this way- it’s lot like running a marathon, you spend months preparing for birth. You endure sickness, pains, body changes but you keep on going, don’t get to the final leg of your marathon and walk or call it quits…put your whole body into and cross that finish line “running”.

    P.S. I absolutely LOVED your post on “I Love You Through and Through”, it gave me a creative spark. I’m working on a photobook for each of my boys with pictures of them relating to the pages in the book…similar to what you did on your blog.

  17. maidentinuviel

    I am hoping that God will bless me with as beautiful a birth as you had. We are expecting a baby boy this August. Also hoping to go completely natural. Thanks for sharing your birth story!

  18. SaraR

    What a great birth story. Thanks for sharing it. I too arrived at 7 with our first and the nurse said later she thought they would be sending my back home. Apparently proper arrival requires much general moaning and/or screaming to be taken seriously.

  19. aclittle

    oh, how I love this birth story, and that BEAUTIFUL picture at the end. We also took Bradley classes and had a Doula with our first son, and both of mine were natural childbirths as well. I love to see others who are passionate about natural childbirth.

  20. Megan

    I know I am about a year late here, but thanks for sharing. I love birth stories, and I am collecting them in my mind to use as strength to help me in my own birth next month. This was a perfect example of what moms-to-be should hear about what birth can be.

  21. Kelsey

    So, I’m reading up on some of your posts. LOVE the birth story. I had a homebirth with our second in February and afterwards, I felt the same way. I wanted to tell everyone! Love, love, love it!

    P.s. Glad to see my sister has a natural birth advocate in her life besides me. I’m sure her and Joseph will have kiddos one day and I hope that she goes all natural. But, if not, that’s cool too.

  22. Lani

    I love birth stories and yours was beautiful. I have an 8-week old and I also really wanted to do a water birth but she came so fast that there was no time to prepare the tub. It was still an amazing, beautiful birth. Such a miracle!! Congratulations, a year late. You have a beautiful family and I am enjoying your blog!

  23. Steph

    I love reading other peoples birth stories and all the different methods of giving birth and what worked for them. I actually did drug free (although not planned drug free, both my kids thought that going from 8 minute apart contractions to birth in about an hour was a fine idea!) and I wish I had more prep for it like you did. I wouldn’t change going drug free but it would have been nice to have trained for it! Your birth story is beautiful.


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