Dream & Inspire
What an experience! Giving birth was both everything I expected and nothing like I had imagined. Sounds crazy, but it's true. The anticipation and anxiety in the delivery room was so real that it seemed surreal. I still can't wrap my head around the fact that I pushed a baby out of me, and even though my actual delivery was planned, I wasn't prepared for what I was going to experience...
I knew from day 1 that my delivery was going to be planned because of my medical history. Since I was on blood thinners due to a blood clot years ago, my doctor had already let me know early on that I would be induced at 39 weeks if I didn't go into labor before then. With that, I was already anticipating the delivery from the moment I found out I was pregnant. After a lot of research about epidurals and pain medicines, I knew I wanted to do my delivery unmedicated because, honestly, I was more afraid of the drug side-effects than the pain. To my relief, though, my line sister offered to be my doula since she is a labor and delivery nurse, and this truly made me feel more at ease about the entire process.
The hours leading up to heading to the hospital were filled with anxiety, anxiousness, and aggravation. Part of me wished I'd gone into labor on my own, and the other part of me was relieved that I'd be under intense medical supervision up until I delivered my daughter. Nonetheless, on New Year's Day at 7:30PM, Joe and I went to the hospital for the start of our scheduled induction process. I had to go in that night because they had to do a cervical ripening in order to get my cervix to soften and dilate (I was only 1cm when I entered - you have to get to 10cm).
The doctor did what felt like the most painful pelvic exam and stuck the ripening agent inside me which was to do its thing over the course of 12 hours. I slept in the hospital through the night with minimal pain, only to wake up the next morning for them to tell me that ripening really didn't make any change in my cervix. At this point, I got a little nervous because I felt like if there was no progression, I would have to have a c-section (I was terrified of having a c-section considering I was on blood thinners). They then proceeded to insert a ripening balloon (which hurt like hell putting in) and then began the pitocin. Your body naturally releases oxytocin when you go into labor; however, if you're induced, they give you a synthetic version of oxytocin, known as pitocin. About an hour after the pitocin started, I threw up like 3 times, which I had read in advance could happen, so I wasn't surprised. Throwing up really sucked because I didn't have any food in my system, so it was truly just all the liquids coming up. (FYI - Once the induction process begins, you can't eat "real" food).
Over the course of 6-8 hours, the ripening balloon helped me dilate to about 3cm and it fell out (which is how you know it worked.) At this point, it was now about 1AM on Thursday morning and my doctor was able to go in and break my water. Surprisingly, that didn't hurt at all: I actually felt some relief once all the fluid was gone. Little did I know, that the real pain was about to begin. I was so grateful to have my doula, Mickeya, there because she had great techniques to keep me calm like massages, diffuser, essential oils, special lotions, etc.
The pitocin was still flowing and I began having mild contractions around 3AM. The pain was similar to that of a really strong menstrual cramp initially. Since I didn't have an epidural, I was able to walk around a lot which helped my baby move down more and open me up more. When you have an epidural, you're confined to the bed, so laboring--though you may not feel any pain--may take longer.
At 5AM is when it really got real. The nurse came in to check me and said I had now dilated to about 6cm...progress, yes! But the real pain began. I began having super strong contractions in which I couldn't even talk until they passed. The good thing (if there is any) about contractions is that you can feel when they're about to begin and end, so for me, it was easy to mentally prepare for them as they came on. Mickeya suggested I get in different positions to see what felt best to deal with the pain, so I ended up on all fours...screaming! At this point, around 11AM, I told Joe I wanted an epidural and called the nurse in. I asked her if I could have an epidural, and she said I could get one if I could stay still long enough. Prior to going into the hospital, Joe and I came up with a code word for when/if I absolutely needed an epidural: Guacamole. Both Joe and Mickeya reminded me that I did not say the code word in order to get an epidural and really reminded me that I could do this and could push through. I was so grateful for both of their support in what I wanted to do.
The nurse checked me again and I was 9cm. I was in so much pain...still screaming...that I didn't know if I could make it; however, being so close to 10cm, I knew I was close to being able to push. My doctor arrived in the room a little after 12pm and at that point I knew it was GO TIME. I was so ready because the pressure of the baby bearing down was so heavy that I just HAD to push. A contraction came and I was able to finally push. On the plus side, it actually feels good to push and the pain seemingly goes away.
The first push was honestly the hardest because you legit feel like you have to poop - that's literally the only way to describe it lol. The doctor could see her head after the first push, so I was determined to get her out sooner than later. The second contraction came and my doula warned me that I was about to feel the 'ring of fire:' when the baby's head breaks through and you feel a burning sensation. I definitely felt the burn, but when you keep pushing through the ring of fire, it doesn't hurt as bad. A third contraction came but it wasn't strong enough for me to push, so I got a minute or two of "rest." The fourth contraction came, and by this time, I was legit tired from the pain and lack of sleep and food. This one I pushed with all my might and she finally came out! As soon as the doctor pulled her out, I felt no more pain and had a rush of euphoria.
They wiped her off, handed her to me, and me and Joe just stared in awe of this beautiful little girl that was just born at 1:00PM on the dot weight 7lbs 13oz and 20.5 inches long. Every bit of pain was so worth it to see her face. After about 30 minutes, I had to push out the placenta, which wasn't painful, just uncomfortable. That took like 1-2 pushes and was done. Following that, my doctor told me I had a Level 1 tear (which is small), so she numbed me and gave me a few stitches and it was over. Just like that, 9 months of carrying her was over. Joe and I were able to have about an hour to ourselves before our family came in which allowed us time to bond with Aria, have her latch and breast feed, and get all her vitals completed.
Following her delivery, I was able to eat...FINALLY! First meal? Chipotle and sparkling cider!! It was refreshing to feel 'normal' (meaning not in pain) again. Besides the soreness down below and being tired, I felt pretty good and accomplished - I didn't know I had that much strength in ME, but I knew my body was capable of doing this miraculous thing. The joy you feel once delivering her was the purest thing I've ever felt. If you've ever questioned if God is real, this is a true manifestation of Him.
To me, having a great support system was the key to my successful delivery.
What do you want to know about giving birth naturally?