This week's story was sent in by Kattie Jones, and I think it serves as a great illustration of the value of researching and evaluating different birth options to find the environment that will work best for you and your baby. Thanks for sharing, Kattie! -- Leigh
When my first daughter was born I did everything according to hospital protocol…pitocin because I wasn’t progressing fast enough followed by the epidural for pain management. It was honestly, what I wanted at the time but I did not do much research into it at the time. I had a long labor but got a wonderful, sweet girl out of it. The days, weeks and months that followed was something that I was not prepared for. I didn’t feel that “instant love” that everyone talks about and I felt extreme guilt for it. I had trouble nursing and became pretty depressed with the idea that I was always in pain and that I hadn’t bonded with my beautiful baby like I thought I would have. It was a very hard, lonely experience. Of course, I soon fell madly in love with my child and those feelings of guilt lifted but it took time and conversation with some new found friends.
When I became pregnant with my second daughter I was very worried that my experience would be the same and that coupled with adjusting to having two children would put me over the edge. I initially planned to deliver at local hospital with a midwife group but after a trip to triage as well as watching my friend give birth in that very hospital I started to feel like a hospital birth just wasn’t the experience that I wanted. I then watched “The Business of Being Born” that cemented that I didn’t want another hospital birth. What I wanted was for the person who delivered me to know ME and to care about me and my child and to not feel like a number. I also really wanted to know the person who delivered me and I wanted to have a natural child birth in a calm, peaceful environment. It took me awhile to make my decision but at 30 weeks I switched my care to a much smaller midwife group at a birth center and I am so very glad that I did.
I was due on September 14th but I went overdue. On September 19th I went in to see my midwife at about 2pm. She did a stretch and sweep to see if we could get things going but we scheduled me to come back in at 7pm that night to break my water since I was 5 days overdue and the baby was low enough. I went back home and my older daughter and I walked around our neighborhood about 5 times to see if we could get things going. I was starting to feel a little crampy but nothing crazy was going on so we went in to pack her bag so she would be ready for her stay at Auntie and house for the weekend. I did a bunch of last minute cleaning and chores and then my Mom got to my house so she could stay with my daughter until my sister arrived. My husband, Greg, got home around 6:15 so he got ready, ate some dinner and we took off.
When we got to the birth center they were lighting candles and getting the room ready. It was so peaceful and calming. At about 7:20 they broke my water and things started moving along pretty quickly. I was able to work through the first part of the contractions pretty well by sitting on the exercise ball and using one of the candles as a focal point. I had put together good playlist and Greg made me some CD's so listening to the music really helped me to concentrate as well as Greg applying counter pressure on my lower back. My Mom arrived at about 8:30 and did whatever she could to help me feel comfortable. I went through those manageable contractions until about 9pm then they got more intense and it was a little harder to remain calm. I stayed in that position until about 10 o'clock when I got into the Jacuzzi tub. The tub felt great but I was still in some major pain. Greg was awesome coaching me through each contraction and my Mom was applying cold wash cloths to my face, neck and back depending on what position I was in. By around 10:30 I was not a happy camper and began begging for an epidural even thought I knew I didn’t want one. My midwife informed me that my statement probably meant that I was ready to push so I tried to do so through my next contraction but I just couldn't get into the right position in the tub so I decided to get out and got on the birthing stool.
I cannot begin to describe the kind of pain I was in at this point. I was caught between being in so much pain that I just wanted the baby out and being afraid to push because of the pain. I pushed through about 3 contractions and felt like I wasn't getting anywhere but I was able to push her to crown pretty quickly. I promptly pushed her head out and felt a sense of relief until I was told that I still had to push her shoulders out. At this point, I started yelling at everyone around me to just take her out because I thought I could not do it. Greg just kept trying to encourage me and let me know that she was right there and that she was so pretty. He was so cute....already in love with her before she was fully born! Obviously, I made it past that point and pushed her out with the next contraction. She was born at 11:16 pm after 4 hours of labor. I looked at her and instantly fell in love.
Once I delivered her they handed her right to me and she didn't make a peep as I held her. She just hung out and got used to being in a new place. I think that my midwife was a bit concerned that she wasn't making any noise but as soon as Greg cut the cord and I handed her off she let out a huge wail. I delivered the placenta then somehow made it over to the bed where I just sat absolutely zoned out for about 30 minutes. When I finally had the strength to speak and actually hold her Greg brought her over to me and she began nursing like a champ! We hung out at the birth center for about 3 hours while they checked out the baby and watched me. It was so nice to sit in a comfortable bed without all the poking and prodding and just get to know my new baby. At about 2:30 am we left and headed home. It was so great to spend our first night in our own bed with no one to bother us! Even as she woke up through the night I felt this sense of calm knowing that I was at home and that I could provide her with all she needed.
My birth center experience was all that I imagined and more. I had a wonderful, short labor and I bonded with my daughter immediately. I had zero PPD and I adjusted very well to having two children. I really feel that my incredible birth played a huge role in this wonderful transition and I am so grateful that I had enough faith in myself to make the leap from the traditional hospital birth to an “unconventional” birth center birth.