November 19 is my dad’s birthday. All throughout my pregnancy my dad said he’d love for the baby to be born on his birthday. I thought, “oh gosh I better have had him before then.” Well November 19 rolled around and I was still pregnant so I thought “ok, please let me have him today!!” We went down to Provo in the afternoon to hang out with my family and do birthday stuff. I felt crampy and was having Braxton hicks as always, but no more than normal. All day I was waiting for that first contraction but alas, nothing. We headed home after the birthday festivities were over. I was slightly depressed since I hadn’t gone into labor like I’d hoped. At about quarter to 11 I decided I’d go to bed since I wasn’t in a great mood and was quite tired. While lying in bed I flipped over to my other side and heard a little pop, water started leaking out. I though “ok, so did I just wet the bed or did my water break?” I stood up and a whole lot more water came draining out, I then knew it was my water that had broken! I was ecstatic! That was how I was hoping it’d happen because labor almost always starts within 24 hours of your water breaking. I told Eric the good news and then called my midwife.
My midwife, Angela, is an apprentice midwife and so she told me that she needed to call the main midwife to update her on my status and would call me back but told me to try to get some sleep in the meantime before contractions started. She wanted me to again call her once contractions started or call in the morning (if nothing had started) and they’d have me come into the office and try to get things moving along. About 15 minutes later, Angela called me back to tell me that the midwife agreed with what she told me, to get some sleep, but contractions had already started, so I updated her on that. After I got off the phone Eric gave me a blessing through which I received a lot of comfort and reassurance. I knew I wasn’t alone in doing this and that everything would go as it should.
At about 11:30 contractions were about a minute long and coming every 5 minutes. I let that go on for an hour and then called Angela. She asked me some questions:
- Can you walk or talk through contractions? No, I have to lie down or lean on my birthing ball and it takes all my concentration to try to relax through them so I can’t talk.
- Where is the pressure located? Throughout my pelvis and a lot in my back.
She told me that it sounded like I needed to come into the birthing center. I got our bags and stuff together and we headed to Provo to drop Reese off at my parents. I had heard that many times contractions will stop while traveling because of the anxiety but mine just kept coming. By the time we got to my parents’ house contractions were every 3 minutes, lasting closer to 80 seconds. Things were going a lot faster than I had expected. I tried to tune out everything around me during contractions. I would fasten my chin to my right shoulder and concentrate on letting the pressure do the work of dilating my cervix and try not to fight against it.
After dropping Reese off at my parents we got to the birthing center. This was around probably 2:30 or 3, I don’t remember. After getting things situated and having my vitals taken, the midwives (Angela, the apprentice, and Trinette, the main midwife) asked if I wanted to be checked for dilation now or later. I told them I’d wait a little while because I was afraid that I’d be checked and that no dilation would be found and I’d be discouraged. I was now having contractions every 2 ½ minutes. At 3:40 I asked if they’d check me because I wasn’t going to want them checking me once contractions were any closer together. I was at a 6. Whew! The contractions WERE working!
I labored in the bed for another 15 minutes or so and then asked if I could get in the tub. They filled the tub, I got into my swim suit, and hopped on in. In all reality, it didn’t do for me what I thought it would. I had heard that it was a natural “epidural” but no pain was lessened by getting in the tub. The advantages were:
- When the water was running the noise would help me relax a little (now that I think back I maybe should’ve turned on the jets to keep the relaxing noise.)
- I was able to twist and turn my body in the water in ways I wouldn’t have had I been in bed or walking around.
I studied the Bradley Method, which is husband coached childbirth, but when it came down to it I just wanted Eric nearby. I didn’t want him talking to me, touching me, or anything else. I just wanted to be left to my thoughts of concentrating on feeling the “pressure” of each contraction come and go and making my muscles relax and allow my body to do the work it was supposed to be doing. Eric did remind me a few times as I was moaning through the pain that it was just pressure, not pain. That helped me try to focus on it being a good thing I was feeling – just doing the work needed to get my little man here.
By probably 4:20 my contractions were so close together and so strong that I almost didn’t feel any kind of break between each one. I couldn’t keep my legs still during the contractions. This is where I was thankful to be in water. I would keel over on to my right side and move my legs in a bicycle motion, still trying to relax but not knowing if I could. I prayed and prayed that I could do this. I knew I could, and that I really had no choice, but I just needed the constant reassurance. For the next few minutes I felt slight urges to push during contractions. It felt so much better to push through the contraction than to try and relax through them. By 4:30 I couldn’t help but push. It was weird how automatic and natural of a response it was. The only thing I can really compare it to is throwing up. You know when you throw up how your stomach wretches automatically, you don’t have to do anything to make it do that? Well same idea.
I pushed through a few contractions in the tub before they had me resituate so I’d have some bars to hold onto and a straight back to sit against. I told them I wasn’t planning on a water birth but didn’t know if I could get out of the tub because the contractions were on top of each other. I pushed for a while longer in the tub, such a weird sensation having a little head right down there in the way of where you are trying to sit. After a couple more minutes the midwives helped me out of the tub and onto a birthing stool where I continued to push. After some pushes in that position my legs were super wobbly and tired. They had me get onto my hands and knees to finish off the job. This helped because having my weight on my knees and hands helped me keep my body stable and keep from shaking.
As the baby was crowning my body responded in ways I would’ve never expected. I am NOT a screamer, I’m pretty good at controlling the noises my body makes when in pain but it was involuntary. Through the last 2 or 3 pushes I couldn’t help but scream. I was slightly embarrassed, but seriously had no control over it. I was hoping I’d be able to be one of those women who claimed their un-medicated childbirth was painless but I can’t claim such. This crowning burned like CRAZY. It was everything I could do to make myself push through the pain. I knew I had to, there was no other choice, and I couldn’t and didn’t want to keep him in there. Thankfully I can handle pain, so handle I did.
As his head emerged I felt a great decrease in burning. I knew at least part of him was out. I asked and they told me that his head was out so I just needed to push with all I had to get the rest of him out. So I did as they said and out he came. They immediately brought him to my arms where I got to cuddle him to me. Skin on skin, just like I wanted! It wasn’t a stressful rush to get him cleaned and his cord cut, as was my experience in the hospital. They just allowed us to enjoy each other while I rubbed his body getting him to breathe well. After a while they asked us if it was ok if we cut the cord. They clamped and Eric cut. It was cool how we weren’t being bossed around but rather were the ones to make the calls for the most part. It was nice feeling in charge of the experience. It really was so beautiful, and so invigorating.
Ivan John was born at 4:49 am on November 20, 2010. 21.5 inches long and weighing in at a whopping 8 lbs 9 oz . Big compared to my little Reese.
I ended up tearing a minor amount, and sadly only because when I had Reese I had 4th degree tears from the episiotomy and forceps and then had been stitched up too tight, so I tore a little around the scar tissue. It was very minor though and only took 3 stitches in one place and 1 stitch in another. I spent the first hour on the floor in the bathroom - not ideal. I thought I could walk over to the bed right after giving birth but passed out. Luckily the midwives did a great job catching me before I hit the floor. I did get to nurse Ivan right away, though it was slightly awkward positioning laying flat on the floor and all. It is so fantastic nursing an un-medicated newborn. He was totally alert and latched right on and nursed for a solid 40 minutes. After I was all stitched up Eric and the midwives carried me to bed where I drank and drank and drank! So much juice! Ivan was alert for another hour or so and then finally dozed off into a deep slumber between me and Eric.
Once my bleeding was normal we were given 4 hours until we needed to check out. Our check out time was 11 am. We napped and enjoyed our little guy. My sisters came for a quick visit and then a little before 11 we packed up and headed to my parents so Reese could meet her new little brother. It was all just completely ideal for what we were hoping the experience would be.
Turns out November 20th had more pull than November 19th. The 20th is my Great Grandpa Messick’s birthday, Eric sister Amber’s birthday, and my Grandparents’ Anniversary.