I thought it would be a good idea to start off my blog with my own personal birth story, since this was the main event that prompted me to become a doula.
About half-way through my pregnancy, as I was contemplating how I would get my baby out when the time came, this thought quite literally popped right into my head: God made my body to give birth. I thought, women have been doing this since creation, why shouldn't I be able to do it, too? And as I looked at other moms I know, I thought that, despite their insanely crazy birth-horror-stories (more on this later), they had come out on the other side of the maternity hospital ward alive, intact, and living life just fine. This made me think that it couldn't possibly be as bad as they said it was.
So I decided that I wanted to have a "natural" birth--as free from drugs and other medical interventions as possible. Not to be a martyr or just to say that I did it, but to experience the whole process as God intended. The more I thought about it, the more I was able to find peace and confidence in the fact that God is my creator and loving Father. I was able to put my trust in his amazing design as my due date drew near.
At 2am on December 15, 2008, I woke up to go to the bathroom, as usual. Except this time I had a very intense urge to poo. So I did, the urge went away, and I went back to bed. A few minutes later, the "urge" came again, and I thought, "Oh, crap. This is labor." Since it was the middle of the night, I thought I'd try to let Greg continue his peaceful slumber so he'd have energy later to help me out as my labor progressed. But a few (intense!) contractions later, I decided to wake him up so I could tell him what to put in our hospital bags while I could still talk (we had actually planned on packing our bags that day).
It. was. crazy. Unlike most women, I didn't have an "easy" early labor, where I could get used to the feel of contractions. They hit me hard and strong, and I was overwhelmed. I remember at one point saying to Greg, "I don't know if I can do this... I might need an epidural." I think that scared him a little, but he continued to remain calm in my presence and coach me through my contractions. During pregnancy, we had read books on the Bradley Method, which really stresses relaxing through the contractions to manage the pain. It worked SOOOO well, and it didn't take me long to get into the rhythm of my labor. I labored in bed for a while, on the toilet for a little bit (my body decided to get rid of everything ahead of time, so it didn't happen on the birthing table--nice!), and sitting in the glider. We stayed at home for 7 hours before heading to the hospital, but it seemed like only 2. While we were at home, I was in such an intense "zone," drawing on all my inner strength, endurance, and self-discipline. It was actually kind of exhilarating and fun!
It was SO cold that morning, so Greg dropped me off at the entrance to the hospital and I had a couple of contractions on the bench just inside the door while he parked the car. Again I say: it. was. crazy. So intense. When Greg got inside, a nice man got a wheelchair and helped us up to the maternity ward. There were no rooms available when we got there, so they checked me in to triage. Despite the bright lights, loud noises, and many other distractions at the hospital, I managed to remain as relaxed as I could while they poked, prodded, and asked me questions. Our nurse was somewhat insensitive to the fact that I was in heavy labor, and was honestly being kind of a nuisance. But Greg, the gracious and amazing man that he is, responded very courteously to her, asked her name, and if she could refrain from asking me questions while I was contracting. She responded well, and softened up quite a bit.
Greg and I both tried hard to not get our hopes up when they "checked" me, after having heard many stories of women laboring for hours and only being a few centimeters dilated. But the moment of truth arrived--the nurse checked my cervix--I was 7 centimeters!!! I was SO encouraged, knowing that dilatation usually goes from 7-10 very quickly. Shortly after that, our Lamaze teacher, Beth, came in to encourage us along, and she told me I was doing very well. It was so good to hear that from someone who truly cared for us and was familiar with the birth process! (Looking back, I realize how helpful a doula would have been. That loving and calm voice of reassurance throughout my whole labor would have made my experience better than I could have imagined!)
I entered into the "transition" part of labor, which is when the pain is at its most intense, unbelievably strong contractions coming right on top of eachother, and started having an urge to push. The nurse said, "We had better get her into a room or she's going to have her baby in here!" The last thing I wanted to do was to move rooms, but we did it and I started pushing right away. The sensations of pushing were so unique, unlike anything I'd ever felt before. I was kind of scared to push because it hurt in such a new way, but I knew I needed to in order to get my baby out. So, with the help of Greg and a little coaching from our nurse, I did it. Lucy came squirming out to me at 12:01pm. The doctor put her right on my tummy while the nurse wiped her down. We bonded and breastfed, and my mom and sister came in to celebrate with flowers and OJ.