For the few days preceding labor, I had woken up in the middle of the night to premenstrual-type cramping. So when I woke up on Super Bowl Sunday to this cramping again I didn't think too much of it until a few hours later when the cramps were still there and consistent - whether I was sitting down and eating, walking around, or trying to sleep. I figured I was in labor. Still, the contractions really didn't hurt. My back ached though, since the baby was turned on her side.
Around lunch time Brendon, Sammy (the dog), and I went on a long walk around the neighborhood. By the end of the walk, it was getting more uncomfortable for me to walk, and contractions were growing stronger and closer together. We went home and watched Freaks and Geeks (great show), while I leaned over the birth ball. My back pain was becoming much more intense - more so than the stomach pain, which paled in comparison. My back began aching so badly that I figured it surely must be time to go to the hospital. (I clearly had no idea what was coming.) That was at about 2:30 PM.
When we got there, I was only 3 cm dilated! Seriously? For all that back pain! Being strapped down to that fetal monitor was torture. So when after an hour I hadn't progressed, we talked to Cecily, my midwife, and decided it might be best to go home and labor. As nice as Baylor's remodel is, the wood floors weren't working for me and the birth ball. Plus we know you progress better at home, so home we went.
We got home at 4:30 PM. I took a hot bath for maybe 15 minutes - max. And it was pretty much downhill from there. I got out, put on whatever clothes I could find (which I later showed up to the hospital in - white tank, mesh shorts, and Uggs... humorous really), and then basically threw myself onto our bed, on all fours, propping up pillows underneath me.
The contractions were suddenly way more intense - both in the front and back - and within a couple minutes of each other. And with the baby moving further down, I pretty much had to go to the bathroom in between every contraction! Running from the bed to the toilet was becoming hard and painful. I would basically get to the toilet (like 10 ft away) in time for another contraction. It was at this point that I remember thinking, I so get why women get epidurals. I was screaming and crying...
Brendon was actually really helpful during this whole thing. He'd be rubbing or kneeding my back, which really was just guess work for him because I couldn't form words to tell him what was helpful... not that anything was really. I just screamed whenever he left the room for him to come back.
When I began bleeding, I started freaking out. We called Cecily, who of course was so calm and just asked if we were ready to go back to the hospital, to which all I could think is You must be kidding me. Yes. We must go NOW. This was at like 6:30 PM.
We got in the car, and I sat in the back because I figured I had more room if I needed to be in a weird position to manage the pain. It was strange though because I was suddenly calmer, just trying to breathe and dig my fists into my lower back. We were about halfway to Baylor when I started feeling the urge to push. So I kept looking up. I heard somewhere that if you look up, like when you need to sneeze, that your body won't let you push. I'm not sure how long that would have worked, but it did until we got there. And I do remember thinking, When we get there and I'm a 5 (which I was expecting because on average in the hospital you dilate at 1 cm/hr), I don't know that I can pass up that epidural. Worst. Pain. Ever.
We made it to Baylor and were in the L&D room by 7 PM. The nurse did put me back on the monitor, since they have to when you come in, but she did it loosely so that I didn't have to stay laying down on the bed. And I didn't have to have an IV, which I loved! I told the nurse I had been wanting to push, so the nurse checked me and said that I was barely a 9, almost a 10, so if I wanted to push, I could. Thank God! (Proper use of that phrase of course!) No wonder the pain was so bad - transition phase! This was all in a matter of minutes, and Cecily actually ran in a few minutes later, since she had been driving from Rockwall to get there.
I pushed for an hour and 45 minutes. For the first part, the back of the bed was upright. I was actually on my knees on the bed, facing the back and leaning over it. So when I pushed, I could bear down. And the second half I was laying on my side doing basically side crunches and pulling my legs up with my chest. And I didn't scream... I was mainly grunting... trying to breathe and work with my body (though let's face it, how do you even concentrate on that?) rather than freak out... which is what I do when I scream.
They tried to show me a mirror of her coming out as she was crowing. As great as that was to see momentarily (though honestly I didn't care at that point - I just wanted her out!), I don't get women wanting to watch because it's kinda discouraging how they come out and then back in... Either way kinda cool momentarily. I do remember at some point the nurse saying "Okay you're about to feel fire." And then probably about 5 minutes later I yelled, "FIRE!" which looking back Brendon thinks is funny because I didn't scream at all until then, and that was my one outburst.
Brendon said that as she was coming out the cord was wrapped around her neck twice (while she was inside, before the neck had come out). I think that's pretty common since I here of it happening so often among friends. Cecily was quick to have her hand inside me unwrapping it as I pushed her out.
She was born at 9:02 PM. And Cecily placed her on my tummy right away, mess and all! Brendon was supposed to call out the gender, but I think he was just so overwhelmed by the whole moment that he missed that. I looked down and was really excited to see my little baby was a girl! I think Brendon was shocked because he was convinced it was a boy. :) He got to cut the umbilical cord, which I thought was neat.
Then there's the after birth, which wasn't painful at all. The placenta just slid right out. Kinda cool to see!!
Really the easy recovery for both me and the baby has been so rewarding. It makes me so thankful I went natural. There's a lot I could say about it... such as being able to move around faster, not tearing a lot, very little bleeding in general, not being drugged when people came in after... but I really loved how alert little Lilleigh was. She actually has been an avid eater from the start, so when my milk came in, it wasn't painful... and I've heard nothing but horror stories from friends about the pain of milk coming in, but then again, none of them went natural.
Another thought... In the fall I did Beth Moore's Revelation study. There's a lot that compares end times to child birth. I found this fascinating. I'd be lying if I said this wasn't part of the reason I wanted to go natural. I'm a dork, I know. But if God cares enough to compare what we will go through to labor pains, I figure I should try to know what He's talking about. (Okay let me just clarify that this is only a small reason that I decided to go natural. Many others that I'm glad to share with you if you want to know.) And yes, during that terrible transition phase, I did have the thought, And this is just the beginning of end times - we're in trouble! It was a fleeting thought.
Final note... For all of you that I've scared I'm sorry. Don't be scared. I found others' birth stories encouraging pre-labor because I felt more in the know with what to expect. The transition phase is painful, yes. But as you can tell from my story, it doesn't last long. And it's at the very end, before pushing. Once I was pushing I felt like there was something I could do to manage the pain, unlike in that phase. Again, I'll just say I do think the benefits of what I experienced after labor (even now!) by far outweigh the hardship of labor.
To prepare, I recommend drinking raspberry leaf tea (read reviews on Amazon - amazing. I attribute it to less bleeding and a shorter labor.) and practicing breathing through pain. My hubby loves giving painful massages (I think they're painful anyway...), so I took those opportunities to breathe through it and to force myself to relax. I think that helped A LOT. Plus just studying about labor, hospital procedure, natural methods, etc really helped me to stay informed. If you don't have a midwife, I recommend a doula to help with the pain AND to learn from. A doula taught our childbirth class, and that was so beneficial! Feel free to ask questions. Like I said, this is not intended to scare anyone, but I know our society hypes up labor, making it this big scary deal that it's not... so being fearful is inevitable. But it's a natural process, which God created. Your body and the baby already know what to do. You just have to trust in the process.