A mother trying to live a healthy life and be a great example for her young daughter through fitness and healthy eating. The old adage goes "Do as I say, not as I do" but this momma is not just saying it!
With this pregnancy, I had low platelet levels and I feared that I would not be able to get an epidural when it came time to deliver as I had with my daughter. So I researched natural childbirth so I could be prepared in case I couldn't get the drugs. After researching it (and going a bit insane), I decided it was something I could do and was best for me and my baby. I also chose to not go to a hospital but rather deliver at a birth center (Birth Care in Alexandria, VA) so that I would have the most supportive environment possible to help me achieve the goal of a natural childbirth.
To complicate things further, I had gestational diabetes so I had to deliver by my due date in order to be able to deliver at the birth center. If not, I was going to have to go to the hospital to be medically-induced. I was medically-induced with my daughter Julia (also due to GD) and I feared that medical interventions would greatly reduce my ability to have a natural childbirth and bring on a domino effect of other unnecessary medical interventions.
At my 39-week appointment, the midwives attempted to do a stretch and sweep to get things going, but my cervix was tilted too far back to reach. The following Monday, I went in for another attempt at a stretch and sweep. Again, my cervix was too far back to reach and they couldn't do it. I went home from that appointment 1cm dilated and with two bottles of castor oil to take at lunch and then again before dinner.
The castor oil seemingly accomplished nothing but sending me to the bathroom all the time. So the next plan of action was Cervadil. Cervadil is a medication that is inserted into cervix that promotes dilation of the cervix and sometimes starts contractions and hopefully puts you into labor also. I went in Tuesday morning to have the first round inserted and again that night for another round of Cervadil and also a Foley Catheter. The Foley Catheter is a balloon that they inflate in your cervix to manually dilate it up to four centimeters. Sounds fun, huh? The Foley Catheter was soo uncomfortable but it did succeed in getting me dilated to 4cm
Later that day the next day after pulling the catheter out, I used some essential oils (clary sage oil and geranium oil) to massage on my belly. I was skeptical of the oils but at this point I was willing to try anything! Placebo effect or not, I started getting regular contractions about seven minutes apart. Unfortunately, I went to sleep that night and they stopped.
The next day (my due date-April 10) I went into the birth center for a third and final round of Cervadil. The midwife confirmed that I was dilated to a four. She tried to do a stretch and sweep, however, my cervix was still too far back and slippery for her to do a proper one. Later that day, my husband and I did the essential oils on my belly again and I started to contract every four minutes. We called the midwife and she told us to go ahead and come in. Although I was contracting, they weren't strong enough to truly be in labor and my midwife thought that it was probably because of the size of my baby and the amount of amniotic fluid that was causing the contractions to be ineffective. So she suggested that we break my water in order to get rid of some of the amniotic fluid and hopefully the contractions would be more effective and we would have a baby!
We got to the birth center and took a walk while we waited for our birth assistant to get there. Our midwife needed her to be able to push the baby down while she broke the water so we could avoid a cord prolapse. Once our birth assistant got there and we broke my water, things started progressing. I went from being able to talk through my contractions to needing to hang from my husband's neck and sway through them.
In preparation for my birthing time, I used Hypnobabies. Hypnobabies really helped me in remaining calm and alleviating a lot of the fear I had around giving birth, however, I did not practice my light switch enough and so that part really didn't work for me. I did use the birthing day affirmations while I was laboring and during a contraction I would moan "Open" or "Relax" to try and keep everything open and relaxed (duh). I felt like this was really helpful.
I started laboring on a bed on my side. I stayed here for a while mainly because I was freezing! My poor husband tried as much as he could to help by draping his coat and our beach towels (brought for the birthing tub) over me to try to warm me. Thank god the midwife came in and showed him where the blankets were kept and turned on a space heater for me! After I warmed up, I asked (read: begged) to get into the Jacuzzi tub. The tub didn't end up being as magical as I thought it would be, but I was able to spend some time in the tub with both Alex and Julia. I was a wonderful moment for our family. Just the three of us one last time.
After a while I got too hot and got out of the tub and thus began my hours of laboring on the toilet. I tried other positions but nothing else really seemed tolerable. I remember the midwife asking once if I wanted to be checked but I declined by whimpering "No, I don't want to be disappointed." Somehow they convinced me to move to the bed and shortly after my body decided it was time to push. This was a feeling like I have never felt before. There is no way I could have stopped my body from pushing even if I had tried. After starting to grunt and push, my midwife asked me what I was feeling and my only response was "I don't know." I didn't want to tell anyone I was pushing for fear they would tell me to stop because it wasn't time yet. Afterwards I told my husband that and he laughed at me, "We all knew you were pushing."
Since the midwives were not fooled by my answers and knew that it was time to deliver the baby, they asked if I wanted to move to the toilet or a birthing stool to push. I chose the birthing stool since they could bring that to me instead of me walking across the room to the bathroom. Plus I feel better saying that I delivered my son on a birth stool rather than a toilet. I mean, c'mon! Twenty-two minutes of pushing and Dean Alexander was born.
Unfortunately, I didn't get to have my magical new baby moment as I was bleeding too much and had to get a shot of Pitocin and deliver my placenta quickly. Alex got lots of skin to skin time with Dean while they gave me more clotting medications, an IV and had to clean out my uterus. It was very scary but somehow I've managed to make peace with it all and can amazingly say I will someday be pregnant again and deliver med-free ....someday....