Our natural birth experience was amazing, shocking, and beautiful.
Reflecting back on my son Elliott’s birth, I’m at a loss for words that can truly describe the experience. Our natural birth experience was amazing, shocking, and beautiful. In preparation to achieve the birth we wanted, my husband Keenan and I went to Baby Nest Birth Services Bradley Method class.
We planned on having a hospital birth but wanted a midwife-assisted delivery with little to no medical intervention. I am so grateful we took Baby Nest’s natural birth prep class! As a result of this class, we gained an understanding that allowed us to stay calm and focused. Even when things got really difficult!
We were able to fully understand the birthing process. We became aware of all available options. And in turn, we were able to advocate for ourselves when the time came for our natural birth experience.
How our birth class and natural birth experience changed me.
In large part due to the Bradley Method class, I had confidence in my ability as a woman to allow my body to do the work of childbirth. I am still in disbelief and awe and cannot stop staring at my son. And I have a newfound respect for my husband, who was calm and steady throughout.
Keenan provided the encouragement during our natural birth experience I could not give myself. He continually grounded me when I got lost in my head. He was exactly what I needed when I needed it. And he is a wonderful father. I am so grateful we had the natural birth experience that we did.
Our Natural Birth Story
I was a week overdue, so we were trying to help get labor started!
After my due date but prior to going into labor, I had tried a variety of natural induction methods. We wanted to encourage things to get started. Keenan and I had been walking. I drank the Midwives Brew on two occasions (which only resulted in me throwing up in my mouth while sleeping). Then I tried pumping and had 3 acupuncture sessions. I was chillin’ on my birth ball whenever possible. And playing volleyball. And even sexual intercourse! During the days leading up to 1/5/18, I had been experiencing Braxton Hicks and what felt like significant menstrual cramping.
I fell down the stairs…not on purpose, of course.
On the morning of 1/5/2018 I had a non-stress at the Kaiser Salmon Creek facility. As I was getting ready to leave the house, I fell down 5-6 stairs. I fell on my bottom, and my elbows absorbed most of the impact. The non-stress test indicated that Elliott was doing just fine. But because of the possibility of my placenta rupturing after the fall, my midwife advised me to go to the Legacy Salmon Creek Hospital for extended monitoring.
Keenan and I left my midwife’s offices and went directly to check in. We were told I would be monitored for about 4 hours. As a result, we planned for Keenan to drop me off and come back once I was done. But I got freaked out once I realized I had to check into Labor and Delivery for monitoring. I asked Keenan to come back immediately.
I was concerned that if my placenta did rupture, I could be rushed into the OR for an emergency C-section. There was a possibility he would miss Elliott’s birth! Keenan returned to the hospital, and we hung out watching reality TV and eating hospital food. The monitoring indicated that Elliott was fine, so we were released.
Early labor finally begins!
Around 5:30 pm that evening, while I was in the shower, I began feeling like the menstrual type cramping was becoming more intense and occurring at fairly regular intervals. I told Keenan I thought I might be going into labor.
I re-read my Bradley Method materials so I could identify the stages of labor as they progressed. And remember all of the pain management strategies I had learned in our Bradley birth class. We timed my contractions sometime within the next hour or so. They were lasting 45 seconds to a minute and occurring every 5 minutes. Time became relative in my memory.
My husband was my rock in labor.
Keenan was awesome, and got to work providing me with water and other hydrating drinks. He offered food and snacks periodically. Early on, I ate a bowl of macaroni and cheese because I hadn’t eaten dinner. I found that bouncing on my birth ball gave me a lot of relief during my contractions. Keenan and I went for a walk. During the walk, I had to stop during contractions. I remember thinking to myself that during early labor, I should be able to walk and talk through my contractions. I assumed I was having a hard time managing the discomfort.
Keenan was very encouraging and kept suggesting different activities to move through. At about 9:30 or 10, my contractions were roughly 3 minutes apart and feeling pretty intense. Keenan suggested I get in the shower, which felt great and slowed my contractions down to every 4 minutes or so.
Because the shower had slowed my labor, we decided to go for another walk. As Keenan was putting on my boots, I had a contraction that was so intense I felt nauseous. I had another really strong contraction and lost all of the macaroni and cheese.
Going deeper and deeper into labor. And say hello to vomit.
As my labor progressed, I started turning inward and became absorbed in my thoughts and self-talk. I thought that if labor was so intense it was causing me to vomit, I would need to get an epidural. I kept trying to remind myself that each contraction was my body and my baby working together to unite as a family, and that I had to ride out the sensations in order to see my son.
After throwing up, I did not think I could walk around the neighborhood. I leaned my torso on my birth ball and rolled back and forth. I remember thinking that I needed to leave for the hospital soon, but did not communicate that verbally to Keenan. Keenan told me we would leave as soon as my sister got to the house, and he was really helpful with encouraging words.
My self-talk was not super positive at the time, and his words of affirmation made me feel like I was doing the right things. We timed my contractions around 11pm and they were lasting at least a minute and occurring every 2 minutes. My sister and nieces got to our house as Keenan was packing the car to leave for the hospital. We tried to stay home as long as long as possible, and kept in mind that the ride to the hospital should be uncomfortable.
Driving to the hospital sucked.
The car ride was no fun, but I was still able to talk and laugh between contractions. We got to Kaiser Sunnyside around midnight. The nurse who took us back to triage was not super concerned even though I had to stop, lean over the counter top, and breathe through contractions in the midst of completing paperwork and explaining the circumstances. She took us back to a triage room and told us she would check to see if I was in labor, and I was pretty displeased with her nonchalant attitude, since I was CERTAIN I was in labor.
She checked me and it was really uncomfortable to be seated or on my back. The nurse confirmed what we already knew. She told me I was in labor and that I was 4 or 5 cm dilated. Almost immediately after standing up, I had to throw up again.
The nurse moved us to a labor room and asked us if we had a birth plan.
She told me I could always change my mind about the epidural, and that the anesthesiologist would be coming by to explain my options. I tried to ignore her comments, requested to get into the birthing tub and asked to have access to nitrous oxide. The birthing tub was being cleaned and we were told I could use it once the nurse was able to monitor the baby’s heart rate consistently for 20 minutes.
I began turning inward even more so than before, and was only opening my eyes for brief periods of time. The sensations were incredibly intense. Keenan asked if I could get into our bath tub while we waited for the birthing tub.
Monitoring. So much monitoring!
The nurse attached the monitoring equipment, and I got in the tub. After a period of attempting to get readings, she was not able to get a good measure of his heartbeat and had me move back to the bed. She let me stand and lean over the bed, as sitting or lying made me feel like a caged animal. Again, she was unable to get a good read.
She asked me to lie on the bed briefly because she thought she would be able to get an accurate measure that way. At this point she had been trying to measure his heart rate for at least an hour, and I was feeling increasingly more uncomfortable and frustrated about not being able to labor in the tub. I laid on the bed on my side and she strapped the equipment to me again, still having no luck with the heart rate.
I couldn’t stop pushing with the urge!
Now I felt like I needed to have a bowel movement and said so. Then I realized I HAD to push and told everyone again. Keenan was by my side and I became aware that I was gripping his arm really forcefully. I felt like I needed to change positions to push but did not think I could move from the bed. The nurse told me if I felt the need to push, I could push with the subsequent contractions.
I would not have been able to inhibit the urge — it was all-consuming and so intense. The nurse told me I could engage in some “practice pushes.” I felt like I had left my body, I was so focused inward. I bared down and pushed. Keenan held my hand and one leg aside to make space for the baby during my pushes.
The nurse checked me and seemed surprised that I had no cervix left at all. The nurse hurriedly notified the midwife on duty (who we had yet to meet), and I was slightly aware of more people entering the room. Hospital staff staged the room for delivery.
Pushing was hard, but here is the thing that encouraged me!
The midwife and nurse began coaching me through contractions and encouraging me to curl in and use all of my effort to push. Someone attached a bar for me to use to the bed and the nitrous oxide finally arrived. I used the gas as I felt the next few contractions coming on, and it sort of brought me back to my body. I felt like I was better able to listen to the coaching. The midwife broke my water because it was not breaking on its own. I pushed for a total of 30 minutes.
Keenan could tell I was starting to feel discouraged and told me he could see the baby! He asked if I wanted to touch him, and he put my hand on his head. He led my hand down and I touched Elliott for the first time. It was the encouragement that I needed and after the next contraction, Elliott was here!
Holding and seeing my son for the first was surreal.
I could not believe that I had done it and that my labor was over! The nurse who had been unconcerned when we checked in kept expressing shock about how quickly my labor had progressed, and how quiet and focused I had been. This is all because I was prepared and ready for the work of labor, and was trained on how to relax in my birth class.
After a 10-hour labor, our beautiful baby boy was here! We were able to go home after about 36 hours, and since, we are all doing really well. Birth is truly a miraculous journey. Our natural birth experience truly united us as a couple. Our birth class prepared us to birth as a team and we did it! This birth story was truly an empowering and bonding experience and we will never forget it!
Thank you Amelia for being our Mama Storyteller and sharing your beautiful, natural birth experience.
You and Keenan rocked the whole natural birth experience, staying so calm and believing in your body’s abilities…and boy, did your body work fast! The empowerment you describe is something you will have forever, thank you for inspiring other future parents.
A beautiful natural birth experience is possible! Education is key to being prepared, relaxed and having a rockstar birth coach by your side.
Are you local to Portland, Oregon or Vancouver, WA metro area? Join one of our Bradley Classes or Natural Birth Prep Classes so you can feel confident for a natural birth experience like this couple!