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.
Born 10:10am July 16th 2009
7lb 11oz, 20.25 in