birth story: Part 2

I want to thank you so much for your overwhelmingly supportive and kind words after sharing part 1 of my birth story with you on Monday. It is a hugely personal experience, but I am glad that I opened up. In case you missed PART 1, you can read THIS first..

So to continue with where I left off on Monday…

As my contractions continued to get closer together they felt much more painful. I really relied on breathing techniques and various positions to ease the contraction pain as we discussed in my prenatal yoga class with Meredith Brown and with Dr. Tanya Chambers during our prenatal crash course at 37 weeks.

I want to stop here and talk a bit more about my “mental game” heading into labor. I am fairly certain that having mental stamina through labor is just as important as physical endurance. I believe that our body will naturally deal with labor just as it amazingly grows a baby inside our body without us doing anything. I knew that by choosing to have a home birth I wouldn't be able to opt for pain medication. While the midwives are equipped with various medical tools incase something goes wrong, they don’t do pain meds. I was told to have Gravol and Tylenol on hand. With this in mind, I knew mental toughness would be key in order to deliver this baby.

I will share the following information because I feel it really helped me to cope with the mental and physical discomfort (discomfort seems like a nicer word than pain…. ) through labor and delivery.

  1. I told myself that I would SURRENDER to the pain: Yes, that’s right – pain. Deal with it, breath through it, sway my hips through it, make loud noises through it…whatever it took to get through each contraction I vowed to myself that I would “honor” the pain. I knew that each contraction was getting me one step closer to holding my baby. I also focused on working with my body and my baby in order to have a successful delivery.
  2. Be PRESENT – stay in the now: I really asked Mark to help me stay present in the experience if he felt that my mind was going elsewhere. I told myself that I didn't want to focus on the contractions that had passed or to look ahead to the contractions that may be ahead of me. How daunting would that be!?! None of us know how long our labor might last and if I knew I had for example, 20 more hours ahead of me… that would do me no good! I wanted to surrender to the pain and stay in the now so that I was capable of coping with the contractions.
  3. Stay POSITIVE, don’t feel angry and try to smile {when possible}: I think this was a biggie for me. I think that we all tend to feel aggressive, angry or upset when we are experiencing pain – and I think that is quite natural. I asked Mark to help remind me to feel more love and compassion towards the pain. I was aware that my body and the baby had to work together in order to get through the labor. I didn’t want the baby to feel any additional stress (ie. tension or screaming) that may cause the labor to slow down. While some people may not believe that this has anything to do with how fast or easily your baby is born, I tend to disagree. Why would a child make his/her way graciously down the birthing canal and want to greet the world if the mother is tense, angry, and yelling. I believe that the child can absolutely sense our emotional well being through pregnancy and certainly through labor as well. I wanted our baby, to enter the world in the most stress free environment possible.
  4. ONLY positive affirmations – NO negativity: This kind of goes hand-and-hand with some of the above points but I knew that there was NO time for negative self- talk. I believe that our thoughts create our reality. For example, if I told myself this was the worst pain EVER, that I couldn’t do it, that the baby would never be able to come out, that I wasn’t capable of delivering my baby without pain medication … what do you think would happen?!?

Instead these are some of the lines I kept saying over, and over…and over in my head the entire time I was laboring....

  • You CAN do this
  • This is not going to last forever – you can cope with the pain and you will be rewarded with a child. Just a little side note, I also told myself that I owed this to my husband who has dealt with more than enough of his own pain re: hockey injuries…. haha. Needless to say it helped me to get through some of the pain!
  • My body is capable and able to push this baby out {it’s a daunting thought at times – but it is absolutely possible}!
  • I can handle the pain.
  • I did a lot of praying as well – some might prefer meditation – but I prayed and believed that I was being taken care of by the Big Guy ;)
  • Breath through the discomfort.

I believe being pregnant for 40 weeks really allows our body and mind to not only develop a baby, but to prepare for child birth. I had never felt so calm and in tuned with my body and mind as I was when I was pregnant. I believe that positive conversations with other mom’s, our prenatal class, poses/breathing techniques and discussions I had in my prenatal yoga class, the two DVD’s that I mentioned last time as well as one book in particular helped me to mentally prepare.

The book that I am referring too is called “Ina May’s Guide to Child Birth” and it was especially helpful. This woman is amazing. I really appreciated the insight from various different births she attended as a midwife. I would highly recommend this book. And while we are on the subject of books, truthfully I only read two pregnancy related books, I think that there is far too much information available to us and it can sometimes create a bit of a complex. I didn't want to feel overwhelmed with too much information and just go with the flow. However, I did really appreciate weekly updates that Mark and I both signed up for through babycenter.com. 

Okay, so back to me on the couch, dealing with the contractions…

I stayed pretty central in our living room from about 11 am until 1 o’clock. Mark was in and out of the house during this time checking on me as I was dozing off between contractions. At this point the contractions were varying in length {7 to 10 minutes} and lasting about 30 seconds to 1 minute in length. I still felt like I was fairly in control of what was happening.

Mark came back in the house and we both decided he should call Evelyn {our midwife} to let her know what was going on. She was already dealing with another mom who was in labor at the hospital but said to call her back when my contractions were closer together. The midwives encourage you to call them when your contractions are about 3-5 minutes apart and lasting at least 1 minute in length for one hour. Following Marks conversation with Evelyn we decided to go outside on our front porch around 2 o’clock.

the view from the front porch.

It was a super hot summer day but I knew that I needed to get outside and move. I brought my yoga mat and stability ball with me and set up shop. I did all that I could to breath through the contractions. Even though the contractions were between 4-7 minutes apart at this point, they were lasting anywhere between 1-2 minutes in length – which seemed like an eternity at times. I distinctly remember standing up and one contraction literally took over my body. I grabbed one of the pillars on the front porch and held on for dear life. OUCH! I knew that I wasn’t yet having contractions that were consistently 3-5 minutes apart for an hour yet, but I looked at Mark and told him he needed to call Evelyn – NOW…

He made the call and updated her on what was going on. She then asked to talk to me so she could gage how I was doing. She asked me to describe the pain I was experiencing and tell her a bit about my contractions. It was a fairly short conversation and she said to call her when the contractions were closer together.

After that call I decided I needed to go upstairs to the bedroom. Mark stayed down on the porch and about 20 minutes later Evelyn showed up around 4 o’clock. She told us that after she got off the phone she sensed that I had a fairly high pain tolerance and her gut instinct told her that she needed to come and check on me.

Mark brought her upstairs to the bedroom where I was lying on the bed. She set up a few of her supplies and did an internal exam to see how far along I was. Her face was priceless – she was shocked. She told me that I was already 8 cm {10 cm is the magic number before you start pushing}. The look on Mark’s face was pretty funny too. I think we all got really excited knowing how close we potentially were to delivery.

My water still hadn’t broke so she told me she would help to break it. She used this little poky device similar to a knitting needle but at that same time Sloane must have moved or kicked and my water broke. I was lying down on the bed with several sheets beneath me and after a minute or so the water was done leaking.

During this time when Evelyn was dealing with me on the bed she told Mark to start filling the birthing tub. It was go time! Mark was running around in the background filling the tub between making calls to our parents to tell them what was going on {their reaction to the home birth will come in Part 3…}. After my water broke, Evelyn too was running around setting up her medical supplies and I stayed lying on the bed trying to breath.

The contractions were definitely becoming more intense and lasting between 1-2 minutes in length. I think it’s safe to say that about this time it became a completely out of body experience. I am referencing a lot of what Mark said happened in this time frame because I believe that my mind went to a place of survival and my body took over....

Okay friends, that's it for Part 2. Part 3 will be posted in the next few days.

Thanks for taking the time to read this and have a fabulous day!