“The power and intensity of your contractions cannot be stronger than you, because it is you.” ~ Unknown
”The wisdom and compassion a woman can intuitively experience in childbirth can make her a source of healing and understanding for other women.” ~Stephen Gaskin
I could read quotes like this all day and get more and more excited. Wow! These are so true!
Leading up to the day I gave birth was busy! Being a hair stylist, on my feet all day, 5 days a week is exhausting! I was trying to schedule all my clients in before I knew I would be off on maternity leave, making myself all the more busy. Friday, March 4, 2016 was my unexpected last day at work. I remember one of my coworkers saying “Girl, you better take it easy or you are going to go into labor” HAHA!!
I don’t remember exactly how my Friday night went after work. Joel and I are home bodies so we probably did nothing! We did take a picture though…. not a beautiful one, and definitely not one that I thought would be the last picture we ever took before we became parents….
Thank you snapchat filter….. All it took was 24 hours to mature us up after this one LOL! (I can’t believe I just shared this picture with the world. Joel is going to kill me.)
We probably went to bed at like 8:00 P.M. (no exaggeration), because we love to sleep.
During our monthly prenatal visits with our midwife, we always had group sessions with other expectant moms of the same due month. During each session, they would discuss different topics about birth and preparation. One of our last sessions, we discussed what to do when we thought we were in labor. I remember my midwife saying that if you start having contractions in the middle of the night, take some Benadryl and get as much sleep as you can and call her in the morning if the contractions are consistent.
It was probably about 2 A.M. that I felt my first contraction. Up until this point, I had no Braxton hicks, no contractions or anything so I had no idea what to expect it to feel like. I was 37 weeks pregnant. I’m the heaviest sleeper and not much can wake me up. This contraction pulled me out of a deep sleep, but not enough to make me fully open my eyes before it was over. All I thought was that Kate was just moving around like she always did right when it is time for me to go to bed.
No joke, she would be having a party in my stomach when I was exhausted and wanted to go to sleep. Every. Night.
Once the contraction ended I fell back asleep quickly, and then another one came. I don’t know how much time passed, but I just shrugged it off again. I think by the third or fourth contraction I started to think “Ok this has to be something.” I looked at the clock and it was 3:00 A.M. I woke up Joel and told him maybe we should time the contractions. At this time I took some Benadryl, because let me tell you. I am not a happy camper at 3:00 in the morning. Nor was I going to be happy if I didn’t get my full nights rest.
This is when the back labor kicked in. If you have had back labor, I feel your pain! If you have not, then please pray that you never do! It. Is. Intense. Also, if you have back labor, there is absolutely no way you will have a natural labor laying on your back in a hospital bed. If you have, please let me know because all my hats will go off to you! You are the true super woman!
Every time I had a contraction, I had to get up off my back to help ease the pain a little. Once the contraction was over, I laid back down and was back to sleep before I had time to close my eyes. That went on all night. Joel is a trooper. He woke up with me every time I had a contraction to time them for me. They were pretty irregular. Some would be 25 minutes apart, and then some would be 3 minutes apart. Remembering what Carolyn told me about waiting to call in the morning, I didn’t want to wake her just in case it wasn’t real labor.
Finally, 7:30 A.M. on Saturday morning came around and I called my mom. She suggested that during my next contraction to stand up with my feet shoulder length apart and see if the contraction got worse. It did. Then she told me to go sit on the toilet during my next contraction and see if it got worse. It did. Gravity is your best friend in labor. She told me it seemed to be true labor and that I needed to call Carolyn. Carolyn said it sounded like I was in early stages of labor and to just have a relaxing morning, eat some breakfast, take a bath, and call her in a few hours if the contractions got to be within 8 minutes apart consistently. I asked if I should call out of work or if I could still go work. She kinda laughed and said “You aren’t going to work today, you are going to have a baby”. I didn’t know! I had never done this before!
I called my manager and told her I thought I was in labor and didn’t think I would be coming into work that day or the next 2 weeks I was supposed to! (You can’t plan everything, you just have to go with the flow of birth). She was trying to talk to me about how I was doing and I started to have a contraction and couldn’t talk anymore so I’m pretty sure I just hung up. Whoops.
Being 3 weeks early, we had done nothing! Kate’s car seat was still in the box, we hadn’t packed ANY bags, and I hadn’t gone through my “nesting phase” yet, so my house was not clean.
While I was “relaxing”, Joel was running around the house trying to get the bags packed and everything in the car WHILE STILL timing my contractions. (Hey Superman 😉 ) Every time I had a contraction I would tell him to start timing (I don’t know why I didn’t just do it myself, I was totally capable of pushing a button.. )
Finally, at 11:30 A.M. my contractions were pretty consistent so Carolyn told us to go ahead and come to Chattanooga. (When you have to drive an hour and 45 minutes to give birth, you want to make sure that your labor is legit and you won’t be sent home for false labor.)
Okay, remember I have back labor and I have to sit down in a car for an hour and 45 minutes with my contractions 5-8 minutes apart. No fun. And Joel drives like a grandpa. Surprisingly, that trip was the quickest trip we did! I felt like we were there in no time, and he didn’t speed!
My mom was going to be there with us for the birth. She was in North Carolina the week before and happened to be leaving to come home the day I went into labor, so she was able to meet us in Chattanooga.
When I arrived at 2:30 p.m.(Eastern time) they checked me and I was 3 CM, and fully e-faced..(which means my cervix was thin and ready as soon as I was fully dilated. At the time, I was like 3 CM?! I’ve been laboring since 2 A.M. and have gotten to 3?! I thought “This is going to be a long day”… First time births can drag on for a long time, which is why you want to make sure you are well rested.
Carolyn told us that she was just going to let us labor by ourselves and if we needed her, we could call for her. I loved that! I loved that Joel and I could just be comfortable together without any interruptions. Her home was in a neighborhood so we went outside and walked around the neighborhood to help things progress. (I wonder if the neighbors are used to it by now, watching women in labor walking by their house). I mean I didn’t just walk around like nothing was happening. Every contraction I stopped and hunched over until it went away. Finally I was like okay I want to go lay down..
That is around the time this picture was taken.
About the time we got back to the house, my mom arrived. I think it was about 4:30 P.M. She asked if I wanted to be checked again, because I said the contractions were getting a little stronger. Carolyn checked me and I was 4 1/2 centimeters.. 2 hours and I progressed 1 1/2 centimeters……Ughhhh…
This is when my mom came through and was awesome. She uplifted me by saying “Hey! That doesn’t mean anything! Once you get to 5 cm it can move really quickly from there! Jessica went from 5 cm to pushing in an hour!” That is the kind of pep talks we need in labor. Nobody focusing on the pain. Just the finish line.
Mine didn’t happen in an hour, but it did feel like an hour! In between that time and giving birth, I tried laboring in the Jacuzzi tub (which didn’t work for me because I was constantly having to get on my hands and knees to relieve my back pain). After a while, I got out and just paced the room, sat on the toilet, and did anything where gravity was working with me and Kate, not against us.They checked Kate’s heartbeat through a fetal Doppler a few times throughout the day and she was doing perfectly fine.
Maybe around 6:30 P.M. I had them check me again.. I was 9 CENTIMETERS!! PRAISE JESUS! 2 hours and I progressed 4 1/2 centimeters! Carolyn and Bethany started prepping the room for delivery and getting all of their supplies ready. I kept laboring. My contractions were about 2 minutes apart and lasting about 1 minute each time. I always felt like I was getting a break in between contractions. Most people say during transition (around 7 centimeters) your contractions become nonstop. I never felt that way. I don’t know why, but I was thankful.
Once I saw Carolyn and Bethany pulling their hair back, I knew it was time for business!
During my contraction,I started to push and I could feel Kate coming down the birth canal, but when my contraction ended I would feel her go back up. My water broke during one of the first pushes, but it wasn’t that much at all. I was like that’s all? In movies it looks like a 5 gallon bucket of water just poured out of them. After 2 times of pushing and her not staying in the birth canal I got so frustrated and said to myself, next time, she is coming out. Next contraction, out she came, all in one sweep, with the rest of the 5 gallons of water. I guess her head was holding it all in.
She was born at exactly 8:00 P.M.(Eastern time) and weighed 7’2!
Because it wasn’t too late and we were both doing great, Carolyn told us she was going to let us go ahead and drive home since we were high on adrenaline and let us sleep in our own beds.
We went home at 11:30 p.m.! Kate was 3 1/2 HOURS old when we took her home!
This is what a 3 1/2 hour old baby looks like in a car seat haha!
16 hours total of labor from the first contraction to the birth. When people told me that before, I was like there is no way I would labor that long! Naive thinking….. That day went by so fast I can’t even explain it. I was so excited to experience it all, that the pain never seemed to phase me enough to give up.
Let me just mention again… Back labor. No fun.
(By the way, back labor is when the baby is turned around and the baby’s back is against your back. Therefore, during a contraction when your stomach tightens, the baby rears their back into yours, causing knife stabbing pains into your back. When the baby is turned the opposite way, during a contraction their back rears into your stomach which I’m assuming results in a super serious cramp.)
This was a super long post. I apologize, but I also hope that my easy, restful labor has given you a little more of a positive outlook of natural child birth outside a hospital setting.
To Strong Women,