Reliving my birth experience makes me realize one thing. Once your baby is on your chest, all the pain and experiences of labor fade away!
We had gone to Salt & Straw, a Portland Oregon favorite Ice Cream Shop, to celebrate our due date. This was the day before Thanksgiving. On the drive home I had my first contractions! I started to feel some cramping in my back. I noticed the cramping would come and go, but I didn’t think much of it. It was only in my back. I didn’t feel anything in my stomach or uterus like I thought I would. I didn’t know how much I’d be helped through our natural birth. My husband was my rock!
The cramps continued in my back for the next couple hours, but I was able to fall asleep at midnight. I had timed a few of the “waves” before I fell asleep. They were anywhere from 9 min to 19 min apart and lasted about a minute. I woke up at around 3:00am from the pain, but I still wasn’t sure at this point if I was feeling contractions or not.
I started timing them again around 4:00am. They were about 8-10 min apart. The intensity didn’t feel like it had changed much since they first started. And the pain was still mostly in my back and lower pelvis. I really expected to feel the pain in my stomach area so I was still not convinced I was in labor. I would fall asleep for an hour here and there but the pain was starting to become uncomfortable to sleep through.
I got up to take a shower and get ready for the day at about 9:00am. We were unsure at this point as to how we would be spending our Thanksgiving day. I stayed home and labored all morning and afternoon pretty comfortably. I would have to stop to breathe and focus through each contraction, but was feeling perfectly fine in between each one. Even though I had heard it, I never would have guessed how much breathing techniques helped through our natural birth.
We decided that this was probably the real deal and we skipped out on Thanksgiving dinner and just stayed home laboring.
At about 1:00pm (on 11/23), things had progressed to the “waves” being 5-8 min apart. We went on a long walk and I would stop and breathe through contractions when needed. I rotated between three positions that I found were the most comfortable for me to labor in. From leaning over the counter while David softly stroked my back, to sitting on a yoga ball and leaning over my bed while David rubbed my lower back, to standing and hugging David while I swayed my hips. (This was the partner dance position we learned and practiced in our Bradley Method Birth Class! These Bradley Method classes helped through our natural birth, especially at this point in the labour process.)
My labor slowly progressed throughout the entire day.
At 4:00pm the contractions averaged 5 min apart. At 5:00pm they averaged 4.5 min apart. And at 6:00pm they averaged 4 min apart. I really wanted to labor at home for as long as possible and kept telling myself I would go to the hospital at 2-3 min apart. Things were still pretty manageable at this point and with David by my side reminding me to change positions I felt like I could stay at home for awhile longer.
My best friend Bri came over to see how I was doing and distract me in between contractions. It helped to keep talking between contractions to keep my mind distracted until the next wave. She was another person who helped through our natural birth. At about 7:30pm my contractions were averaging 3.5 min apart and I would occasionally have a few at 2 min apart. David and Bri really thought that I should head to the hospital at this point. I was pretty stubborn and wanted to stay at home longer, but David decided to load up the car so we would be ready for when I decided we should get going.
They kept encouraging me to go to the hospital since things seemed to be progressing more quickly. I finally agreed to leave my house at 8:00pm, but was still a little reluctant. I remember our birth instructor telling us that if we are looking out the window noticing things around us on the car ride to the hospital, we are probably going too early. I had several contractions on the 12 min car ride over, but I was still pretty aware of everything around me during the drive. Inside, I was mentally preparing myself to get sent back home or to be told I was only 2-3 cm dilated.
I didn’t want to get my hopes up too much as we arrived at the hospital.
My mindset had gotten me this far and I needed to keep focusing on my mind frame throughout this whole experience. We arrived at Peacehealth Family Birth Center,our Vancouver Washington hospital, at 8:15pm.
The nurse from came in to check how far along I was and to my relief she said I was 6 cm dilated. It felt like I was exactly where I was supposed to be. She told us we were there to stay and started checking my blood pressure, started an IV, and hooked me up to the monitors to check on the baby and monitor my contractions. The on-call OB came in and introduced himself and made us feel really comfortable that he would be the one delivering our baby.
We headed to our room and met our labor nurse who we immediately felt at ease with. She helped through our natural birth so much!
I tested Strep B positive so right when we got settled in they hooked up my IV to antibiotics for 30 min. The contractions were still manageable at this point, but it was uncomfortable sitting in bed for those 30 min.
Once the first round of antibiotics finished, we got up and took a walk around the hallway. I didn’t really like walking around so we headed back to our room and I decided to get in the bath.
The warm water with the jets on my back was nice, but I felt really unstable like my legs were floating on the surface of the water. I couldn’t get comfortable and the steam from the water started to make me really anxious.
After about an hour I got out of the bath and laid in bed with blankets on top of me as I started to get shaky from being out of the water. The nurse came in later to give me my second round of antibiotics.
This is when I remember things getting really uncomfortable.
I didn’t like moving around while the antibiotics were going because it made my arm really achy, so I just stayed in bed. The nurse offered to check me again. It was in my plan to not be checked until I was feeling the urge to push, but it was too tempting to say no. She checked me around 10:30 pm and I was at 8.5 cm dilated. I felt really good with how I was progressing and at this point. I felt really in control through each contraction.
David did an amazing job at reminding me to change positions. He anticipated what I needed from him to help me get through the next wave. About midnight, the nurse offered to check me again. Because I was still at 8.5cm, she asked me if I wanted my waters broken or not. After contractions for over 24 hours, I decided to have the OB break my waters. He warned me that after my waters broke things would most likely intensify.
The Doctor broke my water.
They checked my progress and told me that I had gone back to 7cm. He let me know that my bag of waters was most likely putting pressure on my cervix which is why I was measuring 8.5 cm before. Now that they were broken and the pressure was released I was measuring back to 7cm. I felt so defeated at that point. I was so confident in my progression up until that point. And I had stayed in control of my state of mind, but after hearing I went backwards this disheartened me.
I started to doubt if I could go on much longer.
Things definitely intensified just like the doctor warned me they would. The next couple hours were a little bit of a blur. My whole body was shaking pretty bad and I couldn’t find a position that felt good to labor in anymore. David kept trying to keep me moving around and get me to focus on my breathing. His steady encouragement really helped through our natural birth. But the pain was so intense that I really lost control.
My low moaning that I focused on through all my previous contractions turned to louder more high pitched moans. I remember thinking that I would not let myself ask for an epidural. I kept telling David, “I don’t think I can do this anymore!” He would get really close to my face and very forcefully say, “You can do this. Just get through ONE more contraction. Don’t break your spirit.” He repeated the same mantra between each contraction. I don’t think I could have gotten through it without him being so strong and motivating. He helped through our natural birth so much!
I moved into the “transition” stage of labor and the contractions were all over the place.
Contractions were extremely intense and at times I would get 3-4 right on top of each other with no breaks, then I would get a 5 minute break and fall asleep! My body was shaking so hard I stayed in the bed as I didn’t feel stable enough to get up. At around 2:00 am, I started to get the urge to push. The nurse checked me and I was at 9.5 cm. She encouraged me that we were almost there and she would come back in 10 minutes to check me again. This nurse — she helped through our natural birth with great encouragement so many times.
Things were really, really intense at this point!
I was yelling through each contraction. I kept crying out, “I have to push. You don’t understand. I have to!” The nurse came back to check me and she said I was still at 9.5 cm. I had a lip on my cervix that needed to go down before I could push. The urge to push was so strong. I had her check me again shortly after, but no progress on the lip. My mother-in-law suggested I go to the bathroom and empty my bladder, hoping this would help. Her presence was a godsend through our natural birth as well! The nurse helped me to the bathroom and told me “DO NOT PUSH” because she knew my urge was so strong.
After I emptied my bladder I begged her to check me again. She checked me one last time. She told me I had reached 10 cm and was able to start pushing. The nurse stood on my left side with David on my right side as I laid on the bed. I really thought my instincts would lead me to want to push in a different position, but laying on my back is what felt the best. The nurse told me what to do and described how to push before my next contraction started. The first round of pushing I wasn’t really connecting to what I needed to do. I didn’t realize I would need to push for three rounds of 10 seconds at a time. It was exhausting. It’s true when they say, you need to push like you would during a bowel movement!
During the first round of pushing, I held back.
I held back from that feeling because I didn’t want to go to the bathroom on the bed! But once I let go of that, I really connected with what needed to be done. Pushing was exhausting. I started to hyperventilate between pushes. I was so tired and couldn’t catch my breath. David would forcefully remind me to take DEEP breaths, which helped bring me back to what I needed to focus on. He also put his hand on my back and push me forward while I was pushing. This helped me remember to lean forward, which helped a lot too. After a couple rounds of pushing, the nurse paged the OB to come in as the baby was getting really close.
The doctor walked in the door and was barely able to get his gloves on before the baby was out!
It only took 19 minutes of pushing from the very start until she was born! I do wish I would have slowed down the pushing as I ended up with a 2nd degree tear. But once I started, I was too determined to slow things down. My mother-in-law announced, “It’s a girl!” and David and I both wept. We were so overwhelmed with emotion!
They placed her on my chest and it was the most amazing, most surreal moment of my life.
Everlee Paige was born at 2:59am on 11/24 weighing 7lb 8oz and measuring 19 inch long. The moment she was born all the pain left my body and all my focus was on her and David. I had so much adrenaline pumping through my body it was amazing. There were times I doubted myself. I didn’t know if I could continue with a natural labor. All the people who helped through our natural birth made a big difference! There’s nothing like this help. And there is nothing that compares to FEELING your baby enter this world.
Having David as my partner and supporter is the only thing that truly got me through it.
He was so strong and I know that a lot of what he did during labor came from what he learned during our Baby Nest Natural Birth Classes. If I could offer advice to anyone it would be to stay focused on your breathing. Keep a strong mindset through each contraction. Rely on your partner for encouragement and strength.
And it’s true what they say. When you start doubting yourself and feeling like you can’t last any longer, you are probably close to the finish line. The moment they place your baby on your chest is worth every bit of pain and discomfort.
I know that many birth experiences don’t go according to your plan. I am very grateful we were able to have the birth story that we had hoped for. We had so many people who helped through our natural birth. But at the end of the day, no matter what your birth story looks like it is YOUR story. Your experience is what brings your baby into this world, and that is a beautiful thing.
Thank you to Tanya for being our Mama Story Teller. You reminded us about the power of a positive mindset in birth. Also taught us how the presence of a supportive and engaged partner can help the birth experience become a gift of true love.
Please share to remind others of the strength of the mind, body and beauty of birth. We can;t forget to thank those who helped through our natural birth! So many people help in so many ways. Tanya had so many people come alongside.
If you are local to the Vancouver and Portland Area and interested in preparing for a natural, empowered birth experience, check out our upcoming birth class schedule.
Our birth classes focus on partner support which can be key to a better birth so she doesn’t feel alone and you give birth as a team!
Read more inspiring birth stories on our blog! We love great stories.