I can do hard things.
That was my mantra. My positive birth affirmation.
The words I said over and over to myself when I thought I couldn’t do it any more. The thought I clung to when the waves of contractions got to their peaks. I knew the hardest part of each contraction really only lasts 20 seconds or so, and that I can do anything for 20 seconds, right?
I had done this before. Natural child birth. I could do it again.
I had a few really mild contractions during dinner that night.
3 Days overdue.
I thought it was probably nothing, because I would contract constantly at work as a Labor and Delivery nurse. On my feet, 12 hour shifts, running my booty off helping other women deliver their sweet babies. And nothing had happened with those contractions.
But, just in case, we took our time putting Beckham and Leighton to bed. I spent some extra time snuggling them, we took a few photos with mamas baby bump, I hugged them both a little tighter, gave them more kisses than they wanted, and really took in the moment of giving my babies one last kiss and hug before life *might* be changing. Before they became a big brother and sister to this sweet little surprise gender baby.
After bedtime for the littles, I took a bath. I wasn’t really uncomfortable, but I started timing my contractions using an app, and as soon as I put in 3 of the contractions, it alerted me to go straight to the hospital, which, as a labor nurse, I thought was hilarious and I promptly ignored it. How is an app supposed to know when to go? These weren’t even painful!
Micah didn’t want to be as rushed at the hospital as our last birth. So I asked my girlfriend, and co-worker, Whitney, to come over and assess how far along I was. Because I was curious, and because we didn’t want to leave when it was almost too late. I didn’t want to get to the hospital too soon, where I’d have to be monitored longer, or confined to my room. But I also didn’t want the nurses to feel rushed, or be trying to start an IV as I am pushing out my baby, like our last birth. Leighton’s birth was fast and furious, and a little bit chaotic for the staff, I felt. We wanted a really calm vibe this time around, if I could manage it!
So, Whitney came over and said I was 5-6 cm.. and after she checked, the contractions changed. They were definitely registering on my pain radar now. So we agreed it was time to go. We called my dad to come over. I called my midwife/OB on call and let them know I was on my way to the hospital , because they need to be at the hospital when I labor, in case of emergency- since I have had a prior cesarean birth. I sent some emails about appointments we’d be missing the next day between contractions, while Micah loaded the car and we waited for my dad to come, because, momlife! Luckily, he only lives about 5 minutes away, and answered the phone right when we called!
We got to the Emergency Entrance and checked in at midnight. I was able to sit in the wheelchair, and not scream at people unlike last time (I rode in on the wheelchair backwards, yelling at the nurses in the ER not to touch me). They triaged me quickly, and wheeled me up to the Labor and Delivery unit. A sweet nurse met us at the door, and took me straight to a natural childbirth suite. I didn’t even have to be OB triaged! So nice!
The natural birthing suites are really large, home-like rooms. With a queen size regular bed. There are labor tubs, and every kind of labor/birth tool you could need, right in your room.
For whatever reason, this labor, all I wanted to do was stand and sway. I didn’t want to be touched. I didn’t want counter pressure, a birthing ball, the tub..none of it. I chose to stand at the nurses computer station and sway (and I kept apologizing that I was in her way, because I knew she couldn’t chart!). They started my IV between contractions, checked my progress ( I was 7 cm when I arrived, the same as I was at arrival with Leighton!), and let the doctor know I was there. We monitored the baby for 20 minutes, and then I was able to not have any sort of monitors attached to me at all. They intermittently listened to baby’s heart rate with a handheld doppler, and it was so freeing. I felt like I could really labor the way I wanted to. The doctor offered to break my water, if I wanted things to go quicker. But I was starting to have a really hard time dealing with contractions, which were now about every 2-3 minutes, and really intense. I opted out of it, because I knew it would make the contractions harder, and labor faster, and I just wasn’t ready yet!
I decided to try Nitrous Oxide to see if it would help take my mind off the pain. I was nervous to try it, because I really don’t like the way it makes me feel at the dentist office. Surprisingly, I really liked the distraction of using it. I wouldn’t say it made the pain any less. With Leighton, they didn’t offer Nitrous Oxide yet, so I didn’t use any sort of pain relief at all. So I feel I have a good comparison of what birth can be like, with nothing at all, using Nitrous, and having a cesarean birth (Beckham was breech). The Nitrous was helpful in giving me something else to focus on, other than my contractions. I could focus on breathing in and exhaling into the mask. It helped me not lose my sense of control. It helped me remember my positive affirmation..I can do hard things.
They allowed me to use the nitrous, while standing at the nurse computer (I wouldn’t move anyway). And I just swayed and did what my body asked me to do, in my own little groove.
Then, I felt things change within me. My body started involuntarily pushing with each contraction. So I let the nurse know that I thought it was time. She had me lay on the bed to check between contractions, and I was 10cm. She helped me back up to the nurses desk, while she went to get the doctor. When my doctor arrived, I got in the bed on hands and knees, and draped my shoulders and head over the top. This way, I could relax between contractions, and still be in the general position I was in, when leaning on the nurses desk. I was still able to use the Nitrous while pushing. My doctor asked if she could break my water, now that I was pushing and baby was coming soon. I agreed.
12 minutes. Roughly 4 contractions later, my doctor told me to reach down and grab my baby!
There is nothing quite like looking down, and seeing your sweet baby come into the world.
Helping to deliver your baby.
Nothing like feeling your baby’s newborn skin, freshly birthed, gooey, cheesy… perfect.
I pulled the baby up to my chest, pausing to look and announce to Micah that “IT’S A BOY!”, then promptly kiss him, put him in my robe, and hold him oh so tight!
That was a dang HARD 12 minutes. It felt like forever. My whole body was sore. I was shaking. I was out of breath. My hand was cramping from squeezing Micah’s hand so hard during each contraction. My other hand had a bruise on it, from squeezing the nitrous oxide mask so hard to my face! I entered the hospital with pretty curled hair, and full makeup from the day. I became a mother again, looking like I had just run a full marathon.
But really, I kind of did.
After having another beautiful natural childbirth, I am honestly amazed again, at how perfectly designed our bodies are.
My body worked so hard through a really hard pregnancy, plagued by hyperemesis gravidarum. My body got me through many hard days at work, supporting a pregnancy, and working until I was overdue on a busy labor and delivery unit, as a nurse. My body chased around our two other kids, when I was so tired, and sick, and sick of being tired and sick. My body knew when it was time to labor. It labored fast, and hard. My body grew and delivered a perfect little human. My body continues to amaze me by nourishing this little human. Giving him everything he needs right now.
I can do hard things.
I can do them well.
I can be darn proud of my body, too!
Callahan Jude was born at 1:26 AM, an hour and 26 minutes after we checked in at the Emergency room!
After a beautiful hour of uninterrupted skin to skin directly after birth, delayed cord clamping, a full hour of breastfeeding..He weighed in at 8lb 3 oz, and 21 inches long.
I can’t thank my midwife/obgyn group enough for being such great care providers. They practice evidence based care. They empower women, they trust our bodies, and support us. This has been my second, natural child birth VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) with them, and can honestly say they are true supporters of your birth desires. I’m so thankful I found them!
BEAUTIFUL newborn photography by : Tiffany Norton Photography
OBGYN/Midwifery group: Premier Care for Women
Hospital: Banner Del Webb Medical Center
You can read more about Leighton’s Birth Story here