As a first time mother I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from my own body during pregnancy, but surprisingly I was spared the morning sickness, heart burn, and swelling. Even in retrospect, I feel very fortunate to have had a relatively smooth pregnancy.
I had done a lot of reading, or research, as I like to call it, before we
conceived, and I knew that I wanted to attempt a natural birth. I knew I wanted
to avoid as many medical interventions during delivery, but I had no idea on how
to necessarily achieve that. Luckily my OB/GYN, Dr. Lee, was not only supportive
but very encouraging about my holistic birth plan. At 10 weeks I found my doula,
Nicole, and from that point on everything seemed to be falling into place for our
Forty weeks came and went and our daughter showed no signs at wanting to arrive
for her due date. I remember trying every possible natural induction tip I read
on the internet. I honestly believe that one day our daughter will either love
pineapple or absolutely hate it. At my appointment the following week I asked Dr.
Lee if I would be pregnant forever. My husband, Michael, and I laughed with him
when he replied that so far he hadn’t had that happen. By week 41, my cervix was
ripening and dilation was slowly occurring. However, during that week’s
ultrasound my doctor told us that my amniotic fluid levels were dipping and that
if they continued to drop I was looking at a possible induction. The idea of
being induced was becoming more real the closer we got to 42 weeks. I would wake
up each morning hopeful that she would come soon and that those Braxton Hicks
would finally evolve into the “real thing.” Sure enough, what felt like the real
thing started that evening of my appointment, but after many conversations with
my doula, I learned that it was only prodromal labor. I remember feeling so
disappointed because all I wanted was to have our baby safely in my arms.
Then at midnight on Monday, January 13, a wave of cramps started to wrap around
my back. I smiled at the idea that this might be the day that we would have our
baby. Not wanting to get my hopes up, I sent a casual text to my doula explaining
what the cramps felt like and how they had been intensifying for several hours.
My husband was in and out of sleep at this point, but every time I felt the
tightening and the locking pain in my back, he’d apply counter-pressure. He was
able to give me enough relief that I was able to get some rest in-between the
contractions. I called my doula around 3 a.m. Tuesday even though I wasn’t
quite convinced that this was the “real thing” yet.
She told me she would start making her way over to our home, but since she lived out of town it would take her about an hour or so to arrive. I kept trying to conserve energy by taking short naps in between the rushes while Michael kept trying to make me feel
comfortable. When both doulas, Nicole and Laura, arrived they checked the baby’s
heart tones before and after a contraction just to make sure everything was okay.
At sunrise, Laura suggested we go for a walk down the street to help things
along. I remember just pulling on a pair of maternity shorts and zipping on my
husband’s heavy coat that was in the closet. The morning was unusually cold for
South Texas, but it felt so good to breathe some fresh air. As we walked, I kept visualizing what my baby would look like and what she would feel like in my arms. The rushes got stronger and we went back in to get ready for our departure to the hospital.
At the hospital, all my worst fears came true. The contractions had slowed
dramatically and I had only dilated to 5 cm. The nurse called Dr. Lee to let him
know about my progress and I expected him to only call-in a response. I was
pleasantly surprised to see him in person about an hour later. We talked about my
early labor and the concern about my fluid levels. At this point I was 41 weeks
and 4 days along and waiting any longer just didn’t seem sensible. I remember
sitting there alone after he left and crying at the thought of induction. I had
wanted to have this natural experience and at this point it was falling apart in
front of me. Even though I was disappointed, I was more concerned about my baby’s
safety. At 5 p.m. that afternoon, they started my IV with fluids and Pitocin. I
still had every intention to go through with the delivery without any other
interventions like pain medication. My contractions started to come back, but
weren’t as consistent as they had been at home. Around 7 p.m. my doula planned on
heading back home for dinner with her family, and we all agreed that it’d be best
if she came back around midnight.
However, I was quickly learning that things don’t always go as planned. At 9 p.m.
things really got going and my husband called Nicole to come back sooner. By then
the pain had intensified to what it had been at home. The Pitocin made the pain
much stronger and I really needed her there. She let us know that she’d be coming
back with an intern, Hannah, because it was getting late and she was tired. I
told her that was fine and when they arrived I had progressed to 8 cm. Hannah
went straight to work on my back with a massage and counter-pressure. Nicole kept
telling me to visualize my baby and kept encouraging me. My wonderful husband
kept holding me and kissing me in between contractions. As I went into transition,
my body started to tremble with cold, so he covered me with a blanket. I was so
tired from labor that I fell asleep for minutes at a time before I was awakened
by another wave of contractions. I asked Nicole how I could push when I was
already so exhausted. She reassured me that when the time came, the adrenaline
rush would guide me through it. I remembered at that point that she’d always tell
me to trust my body and the birth process.
Dr. Lee came by and I was at 9-10 cm, but the right side of my cervix had not
completely effaced. I wanted to desperately push, but because of my cervix we
kept having to wait. I remember one of the nurses telling me she had been a
midwife in Hungary and praising me for trying to do this naturally. I could hear
everyone talking but I couldn’t really focus on anything but pushing and wanting
to see my baby already. I kept looking at the clock because I wanted to have her
in my arms already and didn’t want to wait any longer. It was closing in on 11 p.m.,
and I kept visualizing that she would be there soon.
They started to get everything ready for delivery, so I knew things were
progressing. The lights were off and the nurse was illuminating everything for
Dr. Lee with a flashlight. I told them I wanted to push and that I couldn’t wait
any longer. I started to push and at first I forgot how to do it. I asked
out-loud how to push, for someone to tell me how. When they instructed me, I
remembered and started to bear down with each contraction. They placed a mirror
for me to see her head, but it was too dark for me to see very well. I stopped
looking at the mirror and closed my eyes and kept telling myself that I was so
close. At that point the fatigue had subsided and I couldn’t feel any pain at
all. I was so fueled by own adrenaline like Nicole had told me, so I kept
pushing. Then there was relief and I knew she was finally out. Dr. Lee handed her
to my husband who placed her on my bare chest. I told her I loved her and that
she was beautiful. I had never felt so much love in my life as I did in that
moment that I looked into my daughter’s dark eyes.
She was so perfect, so frighteningly wonderful, and so ours. A healthy little girl that overwhelmed both her mother and her father with incomparable love. I felt so empowered and strong holding her—knowing that every second of labor had been worth it. Holding her, all memory of any pain I had seemed like a distant memory.
Auden Isabela Reed was born on January 14, 2014 at 11:18 p.m. She weighed 9 lbs.
10 oz and measured in at 22 inches long. We named her after one of our favorite
poets whose name also means “old friend.”
Send us your birth story! Whether you had a home birth, hospital birth, 37-hour labor or emergency C-section, we’d love to read the tale of your little one’s grand entrance. Write up your birth story (click here for tips on getting started) and email it, along with a few photos, to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll share it on our Birth Day blog and may even print it in an upcoming issue!