Anyway, lets back track to the whole labor experience. I am going to break this into 1st, 2nd, and 3rd stage labor so make it a little more readable. It is very long, feel free to skim!
My due date based on my temping calculation was on December 6th, 2013. However, my first ultrasound that I had, dated me at December 8th, 2013. Therefore, in my mind we kind of had two due dates. I, of course, was hoping for the 6th or earlier. Now, one thing to understand is that my sister gave birth to her son on his due date, and my mom gave birth to both me and my sister before our due dates. I was pretty sure I was going to be "on time". Although, the average for first time moms is 41 weeks and 1 day. So I knew, I could potentially go late.
The week of my due date, I went in for an appt on Tuesday (due date on Friday). I had the midwife check me and I was about 25% effaced, baby was probably around -2 position, and my cervix was still high and closed. It wasn't exactly the most positive information but honestly all of that can change so quickly.
On Friday, I was tired, and just done. I had caught a horrible cold on Thanksgiving and it had NOT let up. I was extremely afraid that I was going to go into labor and be drained and sick. Around noon on Friday, I left work to get some peppermint oil to help my nose. I was frustrated because Noelle was most likely going to be late and I was sick. Ivan's parents, aunt, and grandmother had come into town on December 5th and were flying out on Monday morning. I really wanted them to be able to meet Noelle. Anyway, Saturday passed, Sunday passed, Monday passed, Tuesday passed.... I was getting frustrated and Ivan's family had left. My sister was flying out on Wednesday morning, so since I wasn't already in labor on Tuesday night, I knew she was going to miss it too.
I had been having a REALLY hard time sleeping due to the sickness and congestion in the days leading up to Wednesday as well. I was consistently waking up every night for about 3-4 hours because of the sickness. It was exhausting. Luckily around Tuesday, I had started feeling slightly better, but the sleep was still hard to come by. I had started taking naps in the middle of the day just to regain strength for when labor DID start.
I had done a few things to try to get things going after my due date. I had a wonderful "labor" massage by Kelli Hall, was using acupressure, and on Tuesday night I decided to take an enema to see if I could get things going. Around 12:30am on Wednesday morning I was up like typical, and I ran a bath for myself (pretty common). While I was sitting in the bath, the stupid power went out!! So here I am, sitting in the bath, in pitch black dark. Luckily, I had my iphone with me so I used the flash light to get out of the bath. I walked out to my laptop that was in the kitchen, because I wanted to check the Centerpoint Energy site to see when they said the power would be back up. I got on the site and it said around 3am... ug!
Anyway, as I was standing there in kitchen in my robe, I felt like something was about to "drip". So I grabbed a papertowel and held it "under" myself. I immediately soaked the papertowel. At first I thought, well maybe that was just bath water? But then it was more like a gush. So I grabbed some more paper towels and bam, drenched them. At this point I was thinking CRAP my water just broke, its 1am, I haven't started any contractions, and the POWER IS OUT! I freaked out. I went to the bathroom and as I was sitting there, I called my doula who was in San Antonio for her final exams, and the midwife on call for the birthing center. Both of them reassured me that since my water broke in a "gush" (meaning not a slow leak) my contractions would almost surely start within a few hours. I then woke up my family to let them know what was happening, and they quickly changed my sister's flight (which was that morning) to Friday.
1st Stage Labor
So now, let me clarify a few things. Many hospitals will put you on a time table once your water breaks (heck they do it even if your water doesn't break). However, unless you have something like group b strep, it is not necessary to have your baby within 24 hours of your water breaking. The baby is still attached to the placenta and your body is still trying to replenish the water so staying hydrated is important. Anyway, the midwives assured me that I shouldn't worry about going into labor and that as long as I went into active labor within 72 hours, all would be OK. They consider "active" labor to be when your contractions are on average less than 5 minutes apart, 1 minute long, for about an hour (which is pretty standard). This typically is indicative that you are around 4 cm dilated.
So, after my water broke, I basically went back to bed... and sure enough my contractions did start. They weren't super strong at first but I could tell something was happening. I slept as much as I could then I got up and walked around the house for awhile (light contractions were coming around every 15 minutes or so). I then took another nap around 10am. The nap made my contractions stop and at the time this frustrated me a lot (looking back, I should have just kept sleeping KNOWING that eventually they would pick up). But, at the moment I just wanted them to pick up. Therefore, we went to the mall to go walking around. We walked around for about an hour or so. We planned on going to Lupe Tortilla for lunch, but my contractions started to get stronger and I figured it was actually best to go home. When I got home, my contractions picked up. There started being between 5-7 minutes apart and around 1 minute in length or so. I was extremely uncomfortable and because my contractions were all in my back. I had heard about back labor but I never thought I would experience it. It is seriously horrible! It actually is so painful that it overshadows the normal contraction pain. At this point I didn't even have a clue how bad it would get.
|Counting contractions at the mall|
|Jessica french braiding my hair|
By that night (Wednesday), I tried to sleep but my contractions started coming stronger. They had decreased to every 15 mins again, but they were so painful that I had to sleep on the floor in the living room to help. That night was horrible... contractions were painful and varied between 7-10 minutes apart. When they came... they were horrible. There was no sleeping through them. By the morning, I was exhausted. In the morning, I decided to contact Kelli again (the massage therapist) to help with my back labor. She frequently massage women who are IN labor, so I figured it would help. We took the "painful" drive over to her house and I got a great massage. Although the back labor did not stop, she was able to help release the tightness to some extent. She also showed Ivan the best place to massage and provide counter pressure.
After the massage, I contacted Nativiti (the birthing center) to see if I could get checked. I arrived and they hooked me up to the fetal monitor. Noelle was doing just great... however based on the timing of my contractions, and the fact my water had broken, they didn't want to check me (to prevent bacteria from being introduced). It was very disappointing, but I went home. It was then that I called my doula, Lisa Rutledge. The midwives at Nativiti wanted Lisa to help me with some "Spinning Babies" techniques in order to get Noelle to be in the best position to come out. Back labor often is indicative of a malposition. Lisa came over and helped with the Rebozo (a wrap that goes over your belly) and every time I had a contraction, she would pull up and Ivan would apply counter pressure on my back. Lisa also had me do this side lying release position on each side for three contractions. This hurt like CRAZY!!!! Omgosh, it was horrible but I just suffered through because I knew it could help. I continued to labor at home for a few hours longer using the rebozo, cold compresses, peppermint oil on my back, and counterpressure etc. My contractions hadn't sped up too much, they still were around 3-4 minutes apart lasting around 1-1.5 minutes, but at least I was in active labor.
|Lisa with the Rebozo wrap|
|Lisa getting me into a different position|
I knew that at some point I was going to need to go to the birthing center. The car ride would be horrible. I bent over the sofa and just started crying. I was ready to give up. The pain was so bad, and my contractions weren't getting closer, so I felt like I probably wasn't super far along. I basically wanted to go the birthing center, but I also didn't want to go. I didn't want to go there and find out that I was only at 4cm. Either way, I decided to pack it up and go to the center. The car ride was excruciating as expected. Because I was riding in the car, no one could apply counter pressure to my back. When I got to the center, Jamie (one of the midwives) checked me...moment of truth...she looked up at me with a smile and look of sheer pity she said, "oh honey... you are at 8 cm! Let's get you in the tub"... OH LORD!!! The happiness overtook me. I started crying tears of absolute joy. My mom was in the other room and thought I was crying because I received bad news. I found out even later that I was probably more at around 9cm but she didn't want to get my hopes up too high. I went to the birth room and they started running the bath water. I got in the tub and it felt awesome! Omgosh it was great. Of course, that only lasted until my next contraction. I stayed in a hands and knees position in the tub with Ivan applying counter pressure (this was pretty much my default laboring position). At this point, I was still going through transition. But I was so committed to pushing through at this point.. I was ALMOST THERE!
|Contraction at Nativiti while waiting on the bath|
|Contractions, Ivan, Lisa, and Betty (midwife in training)|
|Ivan applying counterpressure|
|1st stage contractions are the worst!|
2nd Stage Labor
I looked up at Lisa who was sitting next to the tub giving me constant encouragement and smiling. I asked her, "when will I know when the pushing contractions are?" She reminded me that they would feel different and "expulsive". The problem is that if you have never experienced an "expulsive" contraction before, you have no clue what that means. Haha! Luckily, my NEXT contraction (right after I had asked Lisa) was just that... "expulsive". The contraction started off as a normal contraction, then it like took over my body. All my muscles clenched and I felt like my body was just pushing on its own. It is hard to explain...but I will say, it felt WAY better than 1st stage contractions. At this point my contractions slowed down. But when they came, it was pushing time. I was in second stage labor (pushing stage) for about 2.5 hours. I pushed for awhile in the tub in multiple positions that the midwives suggested (changing positions helps to progress things a bit faster). I was sooooo concerned about pooping in the tub, but when the time came, I couldn't give a crap (haha no pun intended). There was no helping the pooping and honestly, I don't even care. At that point, I was just so DONE with labor, I wanted this baby girl out!
|Lisa told me to give a "quick smile" for the camera, this was the best I could do|
During the whole process, the midwives also were checking Noelle's heart rate constantly. She was doing fine. The midwives also checked me during my contractions to see how things were going. Katherine (the midwife on call), told me that we really needed to get me out of the tub for awhile so she could stretch my ligaments. I guess my ligaments inside were so tight that it was preventing Noelle from moving farther down. So, I got out of the tub despite not wanting to. They then put me on a birth stool to push. While I was contracting on the birth stool, Katherine reached inside and stretched my ligaments. Not gonna lie... this was NOT fun. However, I felt an immediate change, it felt like my pushing was actually DOING something. It was then though that they checked Noelle's heart rate and it had dropped. They quickly moved me over to the bed to put me on my side to see if the rate would pick up. I absolutely HATED HATED HATED contracting and pushing on my side (it isn't pleasant for back labor) but I would do anything to keep Noelle safe, so that is what I did. As soon as I laid on my side, her rate popped right back up. They then moved me back into the tub. Sadly, at this point, I had to push on my side in the tub. I remember taking my Bradley Method natural childbirth classes and thinking... that the side pushing position looked like the WORST pushing position ever. Honestly, I wanted to push in a squat in the tub. However, Noelle had a mind of her own and she liked the side position. So there I pushed, I felt her coming out. I could feel her head moving, and knew that crowning was right around the corner.
|Katherine (midwife) checking the heartrate|
When she did crown, I felt a bit of burning. I know that many women fear this "ring of fire" they call it when the head comes through. However, it really wasn't that bad in my opinion. It may have been because I was in the water, I am not really sure. It stung a bit, but wasn't that horrible. Then she started coming out. I reached down and I felt her hair!! I couldn't believe it. Then I had about 4 more contractions and her head came out. Then they had me push a few more times (without the contractions) to just get the rest of her body out. Then she was mine to hold! Oh she was so precious... just soooooo precious. Honestly, I still can't get over her. She is too cute and gorgeous for words.
My mom actually came in the room right before the last push, so she could see her. It honestly was such an awesome moment for us. My little girl finally in my arms. I seriously couldn't be happier.
|My mom and sister|
The next part of labor is not quite as exciting haha. The midwives waited until her cord stopped pulsing and brought Ivan over to cut it. Ivan and I had talked before and decided that we really didn't care if he did or did not cut the cord. So I asked if it would be ok for my sister (who Noelle shares a middle name with) could cut the cord. So Brittany cut the cord. Then Noelle was FREE :). I let Ivan take her while they dealt with third stage labor (delivering the placenta). We had a bit of an issue here. My contractions had slowed down before second stage labor, so they completely stopped for third stage labor. We waited about 40 minutes to see if the placenta would just come out... but it was having some trouble. Therefore, they had to give me some pitocin (a small shot of it in the butt) and then had me get on my hands and knees and basically wait. I finally delivered the placenta! Then I was free to get out of the tub.
|Melanie (midwife) waiting on placenta|
Because I had such a long labor, I agreed to give Noelle the Vitamin K shot just so it would help her heal a bit faster. They also wanted to give me the pitocin, not just for the placenta but because I had a long labor and they wanted to make sure I contracted up. They checked all my vitals to make sure I was ok... and then Melanie (the midwife that was now on call) stitched me up. I had a 2nd degree tear, which considering everything, was not that bad at all! Noelle and I rested, ate, had our vitals checked, tried to breastfeed (which was tough), and just relaxed. There was a whole team of nurses and midwives who were bustling around just doing everything. Noelle was weighted at 8lbs 1 oz and 20 inches long. The sweetest little girl ever. So alert! She had 8/9 agpar score which is really great!
I delivered her at 9:36pm at night (around a 44 hour labor) and we were discharge and home in bed by 1:30am.
Ok so now I am going to give shoutouts to people that made up my wonderful birth team:
First and Foremost-Ivan
Ivan was a wonderful coach during the entire birth process. He attended 12 weeks of Bradley classes with me and stayed every minute by my side. Every contraction I needed counter pressure and he was there. He practically got into the tub with me to apply counter pressure. When Noelle's heart rate decreased for a few minutes, he was there to comfort me, reminding me that nothing was wrong, and it was all going to be ok. He really was my support and there is no way I could have done it without him. He also has been a great father to Noelle, getting up early in the morning for crying sessions, diaper changes, etc. I am so grateful that God placed him in my life. I couldn't ask for a better father for Noelle.
Lisa Rutledge- My WONDERFUL doula http://raggedybaby.com/
Lisa was our Bradley method birthing class instructor. On the last week of the class, we decided to have her be our doula. We were originally unsure if we wanted/needed a doula. Since we were having a birth at a birthing center with midwives, we didn't need anyone to help us "fight off" doctors who would try to push pitocin on us. However, we realized that it would still be beneficial to have a doula. Why? Because, a doula comes to your home. I would be able to labor as much as possible at home before going to the birthing center. The doula also is with you the entire time. The midwives come and go during the process (just like a dr) but the doula is there the entire time. Lisa was seriously one of the best decisions we made! She came over to the house and helped us with spinning babies exercises, helped relieve pain with the rebozo (as listed above), brought multiple different ice and heat packs, and brought essential oils that helped with pain. She also was an invaluable resource leading up to the birth. I texted her the entire labor before she arrived, and after the birth she has continued to be a great resource! She is the one who recommended the massage therapist, and the peppermint oil for when I was sick. She also searched for a lactation consultant that could come over immediately after the birth (at no cost even) to help when Noelle was having trouble latching. During the birth she was a constant source of encouragement too, reminding me that I was doing great, and that I could do it! She made sure I was hydrated with coconut water during the labor and even fed me crackers after the birth to help with my energy. When I was totally exhausted, I would look up and see her smiling face saying "you are doing great! you are strong!" She stayed at the birthing center until we left and helped clean up dishes for the meal we had. She was such an invaluable part of the birth team!
Midwives and Nativiti-www.nativiti.com
I really love Nativiti. The birthing center was an amazing place to have a baby. Seriously they have a team there to help with the birth. It was such a comfortable environment to have a baby. It is also wonderful to be able to hold your baby immediately after birth and not have him/her pulled away. I mean, how amazing is it that they would actually reach up and STRETCH my ligaments to help get Noelle out! These women at Nativiti are just so skilled in childbirth. When it comes to the natural act of having a child, they are even more knowledgeable than doctors. I would say that it was the aftermath of the birth that most impressed me about Nativiti. After giving birth, they monitored my progress, made sure Noelle was doing well, and just treated you like a human rather than a sick patient. It was just so comfortable.
My Family and Friends
It was really great to have my family here with me during the whole process. My mom and dad made sure that I was reminded to eat and drink during the labor. The night of my labor my mom and sister came and stayed up with me for a few hours when I couldn't sleep (because of the contractions). My dad went and bought coconut water for me to drink. My sister and dad also stayed out of the house with my nephew during my active labor so I could concentrate. My parents have also cooked, cleaned, and just taken care of everything around the house (especially after the birth). My mom has changed countless dirty diapers and done tons of laundry. I am so thankful for them. I also am thankful for the countless friends that I know either in person or through online sources that were constantly praying for me throughout this (and who have given me so much help after the birth). Your prayers helped get me through some of the most painful contractions.. thank you so much!