Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Birth Story

My eyes are rolling back in my head. The pain - thundering through my entire being. I am completely at its mercy. I'm in a bathtub, I know that much, and a crowd of faces surround me. Except I really can't establish whose faces; I am more seeing auras. And if I think I'm about to die NOW - in hour 8 - just WAIT till we get to hour 9, 10 and 11.

Hard to imagine less than 12 hours ago, Chris and I are making pancakes together, giddy with excitement at each small contraction. It's finally here. 6 days past due date. Chris and I had been doing EVERYTHING we possibly could all weekend to get labor started (not to mention a false alarm at the hospital the night before). But now, 4 a.m. Monday morning, it's the real deal.

I've got my yoga background; my deep breathing DOWN, I think to myself. This is going to be EASY. I've chosen a non-medicated birth for this reason - my confidence - as well as wanting to be aware of when my body tells me to do something, and possibly even prevent complications.

Chris and I run some errands before casually checking in at St. Mark's around noon. "Are you in pain?" asks the check-in nurse.

No, I thought, but I'm having contractions, and I don't want you to send me home, so I say yes.

"Good, we'll get you all settled into your room."

We get settled into our room. I lay out all my comforts that I think I'm going to use during labor. Music. "The Lego Movie." My stuffed animal. Essential oils.

Midwife comes in and breaks my water. Chris and I then go for a walk to get him coffee at the hospital cafe. I start doubling over with contractions on our return trip. Back in the room, my midwife gives me Clary Sage oil to rub all over my tummy. I do that. 10 seconds later, I'm in the bathroom and my body COMPLETELY cleans itself out, if you know what I mean. It's amazing how the body works. It doesn't want you to worry about going to the bathroom during labor or delivery.

Right after that, I am IN IT. I come out of the bathroom, and I am moaning. I kind of stop remembering at this point, because it's the same type of thing for the next few hours to come. I know I'm on the bed on all fours, and when I have a contraction, I moan as midwife, chris, my mom and the nurse rub my back and press on my hips. I have zillions of these, so it's amazing how dilligent they were at making me comfortable for, gee, 11 hours? I am so impressed. Eventually, I go the bathtub, which hurts to sit on the hard floor so I yell, and Chris holds my back, which is on fire. This could have been going on for hours. It's bad pain. I want to die. I think I can't handle it. I look at Chris and he has tears in his eyes, seeing me like this. I yell. LOUD. For hours. the nurse tells me to "drop my octave," and grunt gutterally, which actually helps me push later (brings the energy down through your body. I'm back out of the bathtub. Midwife says I'm dilated to 9.5 but my cervix is still in the way. She has me sit so the pressure is ON the cervix. This is DEATH. After two hours of this, I start crying "Help me!" and whimpering and balling and saying I can't do it.

Did I mention I would puke throughout? The pain of the contractions were irritating me like a buzzsaw and then all of a sudden, the panicky need to puke? And heaving during a contractions? That was the worst.

I'm in this state of utter pain and chaos for three and a half hours. My mom says during this time, "transition," my contractions chart showed they were full blast, and right on top of each other (no breaks in between). Right now, I'm naked, and push the midwife away when she tries to cover me up. I snap at Chris for whispering, "you're doing great, baby."

"Don't whisper!" I yell, feeling his words grating on my nerves.

This feeling that I had to go "no. 2" had been irritating me for an hour or so, and finally, it comes to the point where I think it's just gonna happen right there on the table (the thought of moving to the bathroom during a contraction was too much to comprehend).

"Turn away!" I yell at Chris, thinking I was about to have the most embarrassing moment of my life.

"What's wrong?" asks the midwife.

"I've gotta go to the bathroom!" I yell desperately. "Look away!"

"Oh, then you can start pushing! That's the baby coming!"

The idea alone that I had "progressed" to a new stage is enough to give me hope. I had been yelling for an epidural moments before this, thinking the pain was literally going to kill me if it lasted any longer. But pushing? This is new. I can do this.

With the contractions, still full-blast, i flip over on my back and instinctually prop my feet into the nurses hands. On the contraction, I push, and feel relief. I breathe, calming down, knowing that this would not be as hard as what I just went through. I know I can take my time here. So I breathe, and push. Chris, who formerly did not want to watch the baby come out, is right there in the action zone, coaching me to keep pushing. He sounds excited. It makes me feel encouraged. I push hard. I know that pushing this hard is doing something bad to my genitals, but I don't really care. I feel sharp pain as something that isn't supposed to rip, does. But I push on the contraction, because it feels better than sitting through the contraction. Chris is cheering me on. I know I'm not going to have a bowel movement on the table. So I feel safe, and know that I am going to see my baby soon.

Chris, my mom, the nurse, the midwife all emit some sort of sound that just sounds like pure joy to my ears, and I don't necessarily feel it physeically, but I know that his head is out. I am in shock. My legs are shaking HARD. I know that a few more pushes will get William into this world. I push even harder, the pain a distant feeling as I experience what feels like a bowl of limbs tumble from me. He's out in 13 minutes.

There's crying, and I see a grey form being handed to me, but I don't so much look at him, as I  FEEL him. I will never forget how he felt. Slimy, just this bundle of limbs, warm. Vibrating from his cry. Whenever he cries now, and I'm about to get frustrated, I remember that moment and how he felt, and soften up at how as a team, we got him here.

I pull him to my chest and am hyperventilating. I hold him for just a moment before handing him to a tear-dampened Chris who just cut the cord and is now taking William off to get a bath or shots or something. I am still in shock. Everything has an aura. I cannot believe I am alive.

The next hours pass slowly, and surreally, as I am patched up and put in bed. As William is handed to be to nurse, and as Chris and I drift to sleep for the first time as new parents.

During labor, I thought I would use all sorts of yoga breath, moves, different positions, my comforts...no. I used nothing but the sheer will not to kill myself. And I couldn't have done it without Chris. He was 100% present with me, at the expense of his own comfort (who doesn't eat or can press on my back for 11 hours?). Endurance is the only trait that comes in handy during a non-medicated labor. And I almost ran out. But if I am capable of surviving that, I can survive anything. And that thought has come up many times during recovery, emotional dips, and overall, just this whirlwind of new parenthood.


  1. That's an amazing story Amanda. I've never personally witnessed a birth without my wife having an epidural or pitocin to induce labor.
    That being said. I couldn't imagine why anyone would have a baby without any medical intervention when the majority of births are now performed that way and it is proven to be completely safe to baby and mom.
    After reading your story I really can't comprehend why anyone would opt-in for this excess of punishment in excess of the pains apparent of just carrying another human inside your body for 9 months.
    Kudos to you and Chris.for supporting each other throughout it. It's inspiring to read what the ordeal does for the memory and bond between mother and child.
    If I could give birth and had the option, I would choose the medicated route.
    After experiencing this route, and proven you can do it, would you do it again?

  2. Thank you for sharing your story with us all. You are an inspiration, love you !!!!

  3. I completely empathize with you Amanda. Going into the 13th hour,with the last 2 really hard labor and pushing through "back labor"they started talking seriously about taking my first baby by C-Section. I literally can still feel the searing pain as his little head would wedge itself and trigger my sciatic nerves with every contraction. I felt I would go out of my mind...I then too asked for an epidural. Denied! The thought of succumbing to drugs after all that I had been through made me weep in defeat. Then as a hail Mary I pleaded with the very patient doctor and midwife team for ANYTHING BESIDES A CSECTION...That's when they brought out the vacuum and forceps! Thankfully sometime a bit later they pulled him to freedom. A bit coneheaded, abrasions on his cheeks and a low heart rate,but free from the birth canal that had held him captive. Cut to 3/12 yrs later with my daughter...every one assured me it would be soooooo much easier with the 2nd. After all I was even stronger than before, I did KEGELS like an Olympian, and my body would remember what to do and go into auto pilot....WRONG AS @#&* !!! Similar story,no vacuuming, but the cord was wrapped around her neck and shoulder that stressed her with every push. plus the added magenta polkadotted face and eyes from bursting all my blood vessels from pushing so hard for so long.All Natural sucked for me! Fast forward to 2009, my 3rd and last baby was on deck. I signed the paper work for the epidural and pitocin as soon as I got there, they broke my water sometime later, did an hour of laps around, ate 2 popsicles and the doctor asked if I felt like pushing. I pushed through a weird numbness and Riley came out like 20 minutes later. I felt calm,peaceful, and most importantly...UNTRAUMATIZED!!! Moral of the story...be as green and organic and natural for the other 364 days, choose the drugs!!! :D For me and my babies, it was WAAAYYY more harmful to go the natural way!!! Food for thought, friend. You have my blessing! Love and miss your voice!