My daughter loves to hear her birth story, and she likes to tell people that we’re made for each other, because I made her a baby, and she made me a Mama.
Here’s how that went down.
I arrived at my parents’ place in La Quinta, California on Valentine’s Day of 2010. I was planning to stay until my baby was born, and then return with her to Guatemala City where I was living with my husband at the time. My sister, who was also my doula flew down from Vancouver with her family in April. My parents moved to their casita two doors down and I was in their room. I floated in the pool every day and walked around the ducky park. I tried to stay active, but I developed plantar fasciitis in both feet and it was brutal.
I had tons of Braxton-Hicks contractions in the weeks leading up to my due date. I didn’t have any fear at all about the delivery, because my mom and my sister both had amazing natural births and it just didn’t occur to me that my experience would be any different. Mom says that my sister and I were both born without any pain or tv style screaming. My sister had her first at home with midwives, and Mom had to wake Dad up when the baby was born because he fell asleep watching tv, and my sister didn’t make a sound!
I didn’t take any classes, but I watched this video several times and really put it out to the universe that I wanted to have a similar experience:
When I started having real contractions I could tell the difference, and I breathed and chanted through them. I also did a lot of “pole dancing”. My parents’ bed is a big 4 poster and I held onto one of the poles and swayed and squatted. I probably got through about 75% of the contractions that way. Unfortunately, I don’t have a single photo or video of it. I’m sure that would be good for a laugh!
None of the contractions were awful. They were like really bad period cramps that lasted for about 6-8 breaths and only 4 of the breaths were intense. I also spend a lot of time on a big pink yoga ball. Mom and my sister took turns staying up with me and my Dad took walks around the neighborhood with me.
I labored at home with my family for 36 hours before the contractions were finally 5 minutes apart for an hour. On the way to the hospital my sister warned me not to be disappointed if the nurses checked me and I was only dilated to 4.5 or 5cm. While I was checking in I had a couple of contractions and I don’t think the nurses took me seriously at all because I just breathed loudly and kept filling out the forms. When they took me in to get into a gown and get checked the nurse yelled through the door that they needed to call my doctor right away. I was 9.5 cm already!
The delivery nurses were awesome, and couldn’t believe how calm and cool I was. They kept saying that I looked like I was a patient on an epidural. I started pushing right away, and it took about an hour and a half. My contractions didn’t get closer than 5 minutes apart so even though everything was going just fine another nurse came in and administered Pitocin. I don’t remember it, but my sister told her that I didn’t want it. They ignored or bullied and gave it anyway. My mom and my sister both took videos which I’ve watched several times in the years since. None of the pushing hurt at all, and the nurses were really quiet and let me tell them when a contraction was starting and that I was about to push. One thing I never realized from seeing fictional births on tv and movies – you can’t push and scream. I didn’t make any noise while I was pushing because I was holding my breath and, well, pushing. As soon as she was born they put her on my skin and I held her while they stitched me up. My sister got to cut the cord and I tell my daughter that her belly button was a gift from Auntie Jen.
So, aside from the Pitocin and episiotomy, it went as smoothly as I had hoped it would. Quiet, peaceful, and the only one screaming was my newborn. I was ready to go home as soon as they weighed and measured her and gave her back to me, but they made me stay a full 24 hours. That was a drag.
As natural and easy as childbirth was for me, I was totally unprepared for how hard breastfeeding was. I’ll save that for another post.