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.
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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.”
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