Skip the epidural. Katie shares her labor and delivery experience of going all natural with the Bradley Method. One very brave woman, one beautiful baby boy.
Today my baby is three weeks old! After nine months of imagining what he would be like and reading everything I could get my hands on about pregnancy, labor, delivery, and babies, I am still in disbelief that this precious child is mine!. I get to keep him! My heart melts in a whole new way; I have fallen completely in love a second time.
Near the beginning of my pregnancy I decided to attempt natural birth. My new hobby became researching and learning all I could about labor & delivery itself as well as methods to make it through naturally. Originally, I decided on natural birth because it would be the healthiest plan for my baby and me. The more I read, the more I became enthralled with the ingenuity of our creator. I’m amazed at how everything happening in a mother’s body contributes to the big event.
The Bradley method seemed to be the natural birth plan that most embraces what happens naturally. So I ordered the book and began reading and practicing. My amazing husband, Solomon, agreed to study it also and be my coach (despite how uneasy he feels about medical procedures). Studying and practicing sounds time-consuming and strenuous, but it was basically learning to relax. And relaxation is exactly what I needed after work during my pregnancy. So I enjoyed preparing for birth.
Not only did I plan on giving birth naturally, but I also planned on letting it happen about two weeks early with a four hour labor and delivery. Even though I tried every natural induction possible, that part of the plan didn’t pan out. The due date was May 6, 2010 – a date that had been sketched on my heart since August. The day came and nothing happened. My sweet husband was extremely sensitive to my emotions (which were on the edge anyway with all the hormones spinning through pregnancy and Mother’s Day would be only a couple days later). He took the day off work and created a marathon of dates! That day began as uneventful and depressing became a joyful day that brought the two of us even closer!
Five days later, it happened. Getting up in the middle of the night, (a common practice of every pregnant woman) I began feeling mild cramps. After a month of expecting each ache to lead into labor, I gave up. That couldn’t be it. I thought about timing them anyway and woke up Solomon to help. He said that they were lasting about 45 seconds and five minutes apart. If they were actually contractions, that’s about the point that we would go to the hospital. But they couldn’t be “real” contractions. I’d already jinxed myself too many times! I always thought I would feel them from the top of my belly moving down. These contractions were low, right inside my hips. Even if we did go, they would probably say it was false labor or lock me in and begin induction. Those debates didn’t work with my husband. He loaded the car and we were on the road at 4am.
By 4:30am, I was checked into a room. It was all starting to sink in. This is it, we’re doing it! Although contractions were uncomfortable, the couple minutes I had between contractions were full of excitement and pep! I was free to walk around the room and sit on my exercise ball.
Although I wasn’t going to receive pain relief, I had to get a dose of antibiotics through an IV every 3-4 hours. (I tested positive for Strep B. It’s a bacteria that harmless to me but could be dangerous to my baby as he passes through the birth canal.) I laid on the bed for the first dose. That’s when the contractions began picking up. My mom and brother could tell that I was getting more serious, and they moved to the waiting room. That was also the point when I became very needy for Solomon. He HAD to be by my side for each contraction.
It would be difficult (and boring) to give a play by play from that point on, but I will sum it up. My labor last 15 hours (2:30 am- 5:30 pm). Once I got to that point of seriousness, lying in the hospital bed, it became very painful and exhausting. It’s hard to describe the pain. When other women described labor pains as cramping, I thought I could handle it easily. The best way I can describe it is intense cramping, in the same place, over and over. But it was far from easy! I remember realizing that is was so much worse than I expected. For a long time, I had strong contractions with less than a minute of rest in between them. Eventually, I just fell asleep for those 45 seconds of rest.
Solomon coached me through every single contraction. His eyes became my focal point. He helped me relax (as much as possible) and reminded me how to breathe slowly. His presence gave me strength.
I also used visualization to mentally cope with the pain. I visualized the screen monitoring my contractions. When a contraction felt unbearable, I imagined reaching the peak of a contraction and told myself that it would be relieved soon. Also I imagined my uterus doing its job and remembered that it was happening for a great reason!
When I was feeling close to pushing, my nurse checked the dilation and broke my water. I had to continue with the contractions without pushing. That’s when the typical labor breathing really helped: he-he-he-he-hoooo. I would have been completely undone without my rock-steady coach!
When it was finally time to really push, my nurse gave a quick, urgent call to the doctor. The doctor arrived with several nurses who transformed the room into a delivery room. Although I’m a quiet person, I had no problem letting out a scream with each push. Solomon counted to 10 to give me a goal in pushing. In my mind, I pushed through 11 or 12. I used my imagination again, pretending that I was doing a tough ab workout with each push. The nurses became my cheerleaders, “You can do it!”, “Great job!”, “Just a little more!” They had brought a mirror in so I could see the progress. It was an unbelievable moment to see the peak of my baby’s head coming! Seeing him coming was even more encouragement to do it.
After about 30 minutes of pushing, my husband cut the umbilical cord and my sweet, miraculous child was placed on my bare chest. I think the first thing that I said when he came was, “Sugar!” Solomon says that even though we’ve known each other for many years, he had never heard that tone of my voice ever before.
I did suffer three 2nd degree tears, which were stitched right after his delivery. Finally holding my baby on my chest and finally telling him how much I love him helped me to cope through the numbing injections. However it didn’t keep me from screaming, “My sweet, precious baby. I love you so – AHHHHHH!- much. You are so adorable and- AHHHHHHH!- perfect. I love you so much.”
Hopefully my story won’t discourage anyone from attempting natural birth. After a little more time, when I’m ready to talk about having more children, I’ll probably want to do it naturally again. But for now, I’m just enjoying my amazing miracle: Nolan Michael~ born May 11, 2010~ 7lb 10.4oz/ 20 ¾ in. We have one amazing Creator!