Also I write to encourage other women to experience natural childbirth. With my first son, I wouldn't even consider going without an epidural. However, looking back on his birth (labor, delivery, and recovery) I think recovery would have been much faster and easier had I not used an epidural. My second two recovery times have been significantly easier and I attribute this to abstaining from drugs during labor. When talking with a nurse in the hospital, she agreed with me that "pay me now or pay me later." I would rather experience hours of pain during labor than for days and weeks after. This is just my experience and I realize that everyone has a different story. I am not judging those who choose to use medication or look down on those that want an epidural.
Schaeffer's Birth Story
Thursday night, January 10, when I went to bed, I was having pains in my lower abdomen. I described them to Hubby as "baby dancing on the wrong nerve down low." This pain was rather constant and stronger than a contraction. After laying in bed for a while I was so uncomfortable I got up and tried to do some exercises (yoga stretches - cat/cow) to get baby to move. Eventually the pain subsided enough for me to go to sleep.
In the last stages of pregnancy, I was getting up for the bathroom about every 1.5 hours. At 2:30 I awoke just before feeling my "water break." It wasn't a gushing; it was just enough to let me know that something was finally happening! My water broke and jump started labor with the other two children as well.
Almost immediately I started having regular, hard contractions. They lasted for about a minute and about 2-3 minutes apart (I used an app on my phone called Contraction Master to track them). After thirty minutes of these contractions, I texted the friend we were using as a birthing assistant (doula) and she arrived in our home about 3:30. Because it was night, immediately I started gulping coconut water to hydrate myself to prepare for the marathon ahead. Coconut water has naturally occurring electrolytes (think Gatorade) and is naturally low in sugar.
When she arrived, I was in the shower. With Caroline 2.5 years ago, I'd found that laboring in the shower was comforting and in the beginning, an easy way to take my mind off the pain. For those who know my busy-body mom will find it funny that I couldn't just stand in the shower and enjoy the warm water. In the rest times between contractions, I was using a scrub brush to tackle some mold in the cracks of the tile! Of course eventually the scrub brush was forgotten as I had to focus on the task at hand: labor. Also I will mention briefly that I threw up in the shower and was very sad to see my hydration go down the drain. My gag reflux is super sensitive when pregnant.
Shortly after arriving, Hubby asked our birthing assistant when she thought we should go to the hospital. She said, "Now."
You see, when she came, I was cheerfully able to speak in spurts to give her the update of what had happened to this point. Quickly everything began to annoy me (a sign of transition) and my senses were on hyper-overdrive (another sign). The water in the shower went off (I was too hot); during the contraction I tersely asked them to stop taking and I could smell the lotion and gum of the birthing assistant.
They handed me towels and helped me out of the shower. The contractions were right on top of one another so there was no way I could put on clothes. My husband helped to drape my robe over me and put Crocs on my feet to get me out the door. This journey to the van took much longer than usual because I had to stop every few steps while laboring. It was a warm night and I was sweating like a pregnant nun in church by the time the side door opened to the van.
As when laboring with Caroline, I rode to the hospital backwards on my knees with my face in the back seat. At this point I was feeling serious pain. Before getting into the van, I heard the birthing assistant tell Hubby, "If she says she feels the urge to push, pull over and call 911. She could have this baby in the van." We live less than 10 minutes from the hospital - especially at 4AM.
It was a LONG 10 minutes to the hospital. I may or may not have been guilty of saying, "Slow down! STOP! Keep going!!" Any woman who has labored in the car will attest to the extreme pain of bumps and curves along the way. Thankfully my husband totally ignored me and just drove (safely) like a bat out of hell to get us to the hospital.
In the parking garage, he ran to get a wheel chair. We'd been there the day before and remembered the drill from two years ago when Caroline came into the world. Amazingly the contractions slowed enough for me to get myself out of the van (during Caroline's labor, Hubby practically had to pull/force me to get out.) I was sweating like I had come from the rain forrest. I'm not sure I have ever sweat so much in all my life.
Once at the nurses' station, they start asking me a bajillion questions which really annoyed me because we'd already registered and had filled out the proper paperwork. Later I found out this is to keep people from insurance fraud - someone coming in and saying they were me and letting me pay for their delivery.
Hubby had a pinch of panic in his voice when he insisted, "She is going to have this baby, soon." I was looking squarely at a nurse and was able to smile at her. BUSTED. From reading about natural childbirth I knew that because I was able to smile I had not transitioned. I was disappointed because this meant I had more laboring to do = more pain to endure.
Wheeling me into the proper room, all I wanted to do was to get on a bed and lay down. The nurse checked me and declared I was dilated to 4.5. My heart sank. Wisely she quickly reassured me that the numbers mean nothing and that the baby could come quickly. I tried to settle into my zone - closing my eyes and relaxing the muscles in my arms and shoulders as much as possible in between contractions. John said at one point he thought I was asleep because I looked so relaxed (he's crazy!)
Here's where my food snobishness comes into play. I was parched and asked for some water. When I took a sip I almost spit it out. It tasted terrible! At home we filter our water through a reverse osmosis system under the sink. This was city water and it almost gagged me. Thankfully our birthing assistant had the forethought to bring along a bottle of filtered water. I was kicking myself that I'd not thought of that.
The nurses put a heartbeat monitor for the baby around my waist. After laboring on my left side with pillows between my knees (not sure how long) they were seeing the baby's heartbeat decelerate. During one of the really strong contractions I felt the urge to push, and so I did, though I didn't tell anyone what I was doing. I was in the zone and doing minimum talking.
Next they asked me to do the impossible: roll on my right side. In between contractions, the team of nurses helped me roll over and baby liked the right side much better! About this time I heard someone say that Dr. Singleton was in the room. He has been my doctor for all three children but this was the first of my babies that he helped deliver.
As the Lord would be so gracious to will, one of the nurses was a birthing assistant who specialized in natural childbirth. I was so thankful that she was there. She added a warm, almost hot, compress to my perineum and it felt amazingly good. Almost spa like, if I could say that during labor.
Then I felt that urge to push again. So I did. I could literally feel either his head slipping down the birth canal or my pelvis opening. Crazy feeling.
When I pushed the third time I heard someone say, "His head is out." It was at that moment I heard Dr. Singleton's voice for the first time. He said with a bit of authority and urgency, "Julie you need to push again and get his shoulders out." I need to ask him if it was urgent or if I was reading into his inflection. Nonetheless I obeyed.
|10 pounds & 10 ounces of love|
And we met Schaeffer Allen face to face.
If you'd asked me to guess how much the baby weighed, I would have told you about eight pounds. Caroline was 8.5, and Schaeffer felt much easier to push out. I was very surprised to learn he was 10 pounds, 10 ounces! One nurse said it could be because the way he was positioned.
Delivering the placenta is a whole 'nother story. It took 1.5 hours more. I'm not sure why it took so long to detach but it did. And I am so thankful that Dr. Singleton was so patient. While we were waiting he sewed my 2nd degree tears (which haven't hurt at all - though the tears with my other two kids were quite painful for a long time.) A few contractions came my way (that really hurt!) but they did nothing in the way of getting the placenta out.
During this 1.5 hours, I could not stop shaking. It was like I was frozen in my core and shivering uncontrollably. The nurses put warm blankets on me which helped but I think the main reason for the shakes was from a surge of adrenaline.
Dr. Singleton recommended that I walk to the bathroom and try to void, maybe this would help the placenta. He said another of his patients delivered a placenta into the toilet. After a few contractions and trying to void it didn't appear that any progress had been made. Once back into bed he "massaged" my stomach to encourage detachment. It was a very painful massage but I was willing to endure it because the longer the placenta stayed attached the more likely for (unwanted) further medical intervention. I prayed out loud for the Lord to detach this placenta.
Eventually it broke free and I was so happy! And very thankful for Dr. Singleton's patience. Since then, I've heard horror stories from friends who didn't have patient doctors (when delivering the placenta) and the results were almost life threatening.
Schaeffer is now 5 days old. I feel so much better now that I am no longer pregnant. In two days 25 pounds were shed from my body (10 pounds, 10 ounces of that was baby!). I am not one of these women that say, "I love being pregnant." I think I was miserable every.single.day.
Schaeffer Allen Majors, I'm thrilled to see you face to face! (Click here to read why we chose his name.)
A friend let me borrow her copy of Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way. It helped me mentally prepare for laboring without drugs. Be warned, there are several nude pictures in this book.