Jessica's Birth of Malachi James
Jessica is a photographer! Please visit her website at http://www.jessicamehuphotography.com
I’m writing my birth story to document all the details for me personally, to share this amazing experience with friends and family (all those that love a good birth story as much as I do!), and to help women advocate for themselves and achieve the birth experience they want and need. I have had four hospital births and went through three of them having no clue what I could have and how easily I could have it, although I always desired a natural birth experience. I feel there is too little information out there on natural hospital birth; that it IS possible and how to go about having one. With all the negative information out there about hospital birth and OB’s, I feared them and never thought to try for the things I did with my last birth. For this reason, I’m trying to tell as many women as I can about my experience. I hope to give women hope, strength, and inspire them to educate themselves. I am not advocating for homebirth, hospital birth, medicated birth, or any specific type of birth here. I am advocating for women to educate themselves about birth, deciding what they want for their birth, and making sure they get the birth they want and need. I understand that birth in unpredictable, but even with-in that unpredictability, wishes can be followed. I always state in my birth plan and when discussing my birth plan with the doctor that I’m flexible and understand that things may not go the way I hope.
So this story will start at the beginning of my journey. I’ll try to make it as brief as I can without leaving out important details, and I’ll make subtitles for those that already know about my journey and just want to read about the big day. If anyone has any questions or would like to know more about a topic I wrote about just ask! I’m also keeping a digital copy of my birth plan for anyone that’s interested in reading it. Enjoy!
My previous births
I think it’s important to briefly touch on my previous birth experiences to start. I have three little girls. My first was born February 18, 2003 when I was 18 years old (yes I’m a young mom and all my pregnancies were planned) my second born November 23, 2005 and my third born June 12, 2008. All four of my births were at the same hospital, and babies #2,3, and 4 all delivered by the same O.B. I didn’t have any pain medications in any of my labors, and #1,2, and 3 were Pitocin induced. With each birth I was more educated and had a better idea of what I wanted and what my rights are. I would like to add too (just because I’m so proud of this) that I exclusively breastfed all my babies for at least two years!
Even though I was so young with my first, I did my research and wanted to do everything as natural as possible, but still wanted all precautions to be taken in case something went wrong (I was born by emergency C-section and almost died so the fear of birth was firmly placed in my mind already). I found a certified nurse midwife that delivered at the hospital and I loved that. I planned on having a water birth in the alternative birthing suite. Well, at 41 weeks gestation with a big baby and after weeks of prodromal labor (I was 4 cm dilated and about 70% effaced), I caved and begged for an induction. After an hour of harsh active labor (back to back contractions) and 20 min. of pushing, I gave birth to my 9 lb. 5 oz. baby girl. The fast harsh labor stressed her out and she passed meconium and had some pretty bad decelerations in her heart rate so things got pretty crazy during pushing and a doctor I had never met before came in and took over when she was crowning. The doctor had the nurses break the bed down and gave me a small episiotomy which immediately led to my baby summersaulting into doctors arms. (I did end up with a small tear inside and on my labia as well, but the midwife let me know that I have a fabulous pelvis and could easily birth a 10 lb. baby.) I wasn’t able to hold her for what felt like forever, and when they did hand me my fully clothed baby they told me I couldn’t nurse her for an hour. This experience and a few others like it led to the midwives not being able to deliver at this hospital anymore. I think I should mention too that most of the nurses (during labor and postpartum) were very rude and did not respect my wishes. They took my baby from me to bathe her when I told them not to. I didn’t want her out of my sight and they literally took her away when I said no. Then after her bath they “had to” keep her under the warming lights for a couple hours.
Baby #2 I decided to have a birth doula with me. I don’t remember how I heard of a doula, but I knew I needed support, especially since I wouldn’t be able to have a midwife this time around. I found an O.B. I liked, who hired one of the midwives I saw with my last pregnancy, so I liked that I could see her for my prenatal visits. I was induced at 38.5 weeks because the doctor didn’t want me to have a huge baby and I was ok with that. She was measuring big and since I had a 9 lb. baby before, he didn’t want to take any chances. I didn’t have a birth plan and felt like it wouldn’t make a difference if I did have one since he’s a doctor and probably won’t follow it anyway. I was about 2 cm. dilated and 50% effaced going into this induction, and he broke my water pretty much right away. I had a very harsh labor (not back to back contractions like the first, but just as painful) for 4 ½ hrs., and the doctor told me when I was complete and to start pushing even though I didn’t feel ready to, and put me in a position I didn’t want to get into. I assumed baby was stressed again so I just followed his lead and pushed as hard as I could for about 2 min. and birthed my second little girl, weighing 7 lbs. 12 oz.
I tore a little where I had the episiotomy the time before. I later asked the nurse (who was amazing) why I was rushed like that and if the baby was stressed. She told me baby looked perfect the whole time, but they were just busy and doctor had to get to the other room. I told her I missed the midwives and she agreed. I was able to hold my baby for a couple minutes after the birth, but I was in so much pain with what the doctor was doing that I couldn’t really hold her and just let them clean her up and dress her. I did request her bath be done in my room though (which was respected), and the nurses were all great with us.
Between baby 2 and 3 I took classes and became a certified birth doula. I assisted with five births and learned so much. One of the births was with my O.B. and she had a birth plan, spoke up about what she wanted, and he was amazing with her. Even the nurses read the plan and followed it. That really taught me a lesson about the importance of birth plans.
So baby #3 I made sure I had a birth plan, a doula, and I said I was going to have this baby all natural; no induction! That was until I was at my 38 week appointment with the doctor who informed me he was leaving for vacation in a few days and wouldn’t be back until just after my due date. I had a strong feeling that I was going to go into labor between week 39 and 40 and I felt very strongly about having my doctor there since I didn’t even know the on call doctors. He said I am once again measuring big, and since my cervix was once again favorable (3 cm and 30% effaced) he’d be willing to induce me day after tomorrow, but of course it’s up to me, no pressure. I caved, once again. I felt terrible about it and was totally fine with being pregnant a few more weeks, but I felt worse about the idea of him going out of town with me still being pregnant.
I had a great nursing staff once again, and the doctor was much better with me this time around. I was hoping the Pitocin alone would send me in active labor like the first time and kept saying no to him breaking my water and he was fine with that. I was slowly progressing (3 cm 80% effaced) by around 5:00 and the doctor stopped in one more time and let me know that at this point, since I’m not in active labor, we can do one of two things; he can break my water and we can have a birthday, or we can take out the I.V. and I can go home. I asked (even though I knew the answer) if he’s leaving tomorrow morning, and of course he said yes. Then I looked at my mom, dad, doula, and husband who had all been there all day waiting for baby, remembered my husband already had taken the week off for his vacation, and even though I know none of that should have mattered; it did. So, I consented to him breaking my water. I was very emotional about it, and sure enough, there were the super harsh contractions once again, that hit me like a ton of bricks.
I gathered myself, knowing that I had to get through this and crying wouldn’t help me, put on my headphones with my relaxing music, sat up in the bed and breathed deep with each contraction. I was very deeply relaxed even though I feared each contraction. Once again, the nurses were amazing and respected my wishes. After 3 ½ hrs. of harsh labor, I felt the urge to push. I still had a lip of cervix there, but I had to push so badly so the doctor pulled my cervix back as I pushed. This was extremely painful. After the few contractions to get through that passed, I, once again, pushed very hard and very fast for about a minute and gave birth to my third baby girl, weighing only 6 lbs. 9 oz.
Once again, I ended up with only a small tear where the episiotomy was the first time. I was able to hold her for about a minute after she was born, and they took her to the warmer to “get her breathing better” (I was very upset that they took her away so quickly). While they were working on her the doctor was working on me. I had a “mysterious bleed” that had scared him and he was trying to stop it. I was in a lot of pain. Baby was given her vitamin K shot which I refused (didn’t find out about this till years later) but I did get them to bathe her in my room again, with a little resistance. Over-all, the doctor was much better with me this time, and I know the birth plan played a huge role in that. I felt great about how well I endured the experience, even though it was so hard I swore this was my last baby.
Wow! I didn’t realize touching on my previous births briefly would be so long! They are part of what led me to my birth this time around though, so I couldn’t leave them out. With each of these births I felt scared and out of control going through it, but very happy with the outcome; healthy baby and mom.
Being introduced to a different way: homebirth
With as much as I have been a promoter of natural birth, I didn’t know much about homebirth. The doula program I worked through didn’t accept homebirth clients and I just never thought about looking into it. Having a baby at home sounded like a risky option that I would never consider.
Being a birth doula led me to becoming a birth photographer. May 2011 God sent an amazing woman my way that was looking for a birth photographer and planning a homebirth. I was very intrigued by that and excited to witness a homebirth. June 15, 2011 (pay attention to the dates in this story…) I had the privilege of photographing this beautiful birth and learned what birth can be. I was amazed. What made the biggest impression on me was how calm everything was after the baby was born. No one rushed baby to a warmer and rushed to examine mom. They had plenty of time to bond and even breastfeed before the baby was weighed and had assessments done. It was a night I’ll never forget, and changed my outlook on birth.
June 24, 2011 I was in the E.R. thinking I had a stroke (turned out to be a complicated migraine). This led to many doctors’ appointments and tests. A neurologist strongly suggested that I stop taking my birth control pill, which led me to learning about natural family planning, charting my cycles, and getting to know my body. This was a big step in my journey of trusting my body. I was amazed at how perfectly my body went though its monthly cycles without any hormonal help!
I did more research on homebirth. I watched videos on YouTube, connected with homebirth and similar communities on Facebook and learned all about homebirth and so much more. I saw unassisted births, and learned about trusting the birth process and the mother’s intuition (sad that this is not common knowledge). I was opened up to a new, beautiful world. I was sharing some of what I had learned with my husband (second husband… the father of my girls and I had divorced) and he said, “So… when we have a baby, we’re going to have it at home right?” Looking back now, with the way everything turned out, I understand why I reacted the way I did, but at the time I was surprised. What he said set me back for a moment and really made me think. I was so intrigued with everything I was learning, but still didn’t think I could have a baby at home myself. The more I thought about it though, the more I wanted it. I wanted that natural, peaceful birth experience so badly. I told him I would definitely consider it when the time comes.
The time came sooner than we thought…
September 16, 2011 a good friend of mine had a baby boy. My husband and I went up to the hospital to see them. I sat up there, holding her sweet baby, and wanting a baby with Marcel so badly. I remember feeling the same way September 16, 2007, when I held another friends’ baby boy in my arms. Funny thing is that my cycle started September 17, 2007, and during that cycle I conceived my third daughter who had a due date of June 24, 2008. That urge must have been very strong in me once again because my cycle started September 17, 2011, and we conceived our baby that cycle. My due date was once again June 24th (but 2012 of course)!
I got a positive test October 11, 2011 and kept the news to myself all day because I wanted to announce it to Marcel a special way. I made a slideshow of pictures on DVD for him. They were pictures throughout our relationship up to present day, with the last picture being a picture of the positive test. When he got home I told him I made an awesome slideshow that I had to show him. I took the test a few days sooner than we had planned, so he honestly had no clue what was at the end of the slideshow. His reaction was just priceless and so worth keeping that news bottled up all day! Then we showed the slideshow to the girls when they got home from school and they were so excited. Delilah didn’t show a lot of emotion though because she already knew. No one told her, but she knew. She had been telling everyone for weeks that mommy is pregnant and she’s going to have a baby brother!
Our first prenatal appointment was 11-11-11 and we had our first ultrasound and got to see our sweet baby bean and hear the heartbeat. I was 7 weeks 5 days along and we were instantly in love. On January 16, 2012 (our 3 year anniversary of being together) we had another ultrasound and found out we’re having a little boy; Malachi James! I was 17 weeks 1 day pregnant.
I had a very healthy pregnancy, once again, and it flew by! There were some challenges during this pregnancy that I didn’t have with the others that made me pretty uncomfortable. I had Pubis Symphysis (SPD) which is extremely painful and makes pregnancy very uncomfortable! I tried my best to stay positive and enjoy the pregnancy as much as I could. I know I’m very blessed to be able to conceive so easily and carry healthy babies to term and I don’t want to complain about the few challenges I face with pregnancy.
Deciding where to birth our baby
This was a tough one for me. Marcel and I talked about having a homebirth and the more we talked about it the more we wanted it. I felt it was important though to see my O.B. as a backup in case something went wrong, and also so insurance would pay for our tests. That, and location, gave us a very small selection of homebirth midwives to go with. After a few interviews and a lot of thought and prayers, we decided to have a homebirth. I still had a feeling deep down in my gut that I wasn’t comfortable with it, but I dismissed it as a fear that I had to just overcome.
Well, a few months and four prenatal visits later that fear didn’t die down, it actually became a very strong feeling that I couldn’t ignore. That accompanied by several clear signs that I couldn’t ignore led me to reconsider having baby at home. I was almost 30 weeks, and with-in a matter of a few days was hit with the reality that no matter what anyone says or does, I am taking a bigger risk having my baby at home (I live half an hour from the hospital). I realized that if my baby were hurt or died, and it could have been prevented if we were in the hospital, I would always blame myself and that’s not something I could live with. Even though the chances were small, the fact that the chance was there made me feel very insecure about birthing at home. I realized that even though there were things that happened at my births that I didn’t like, I had a healthy baby to take home, and some parents’ babies died just because they weren’t in a hospital. I became very thankful for my previous births instead of picking on what I didn’t like about them. I was very blessed and I almost forgot how blessed I was by letting the anger of the little things that went wrong consume me.
We decided to have our baby at the hospital after all. It wasn’t that I felt anything would go wrong. In fact, I knew I was going to have a great birth. It was that I knew where I needed to be to feel comfortable. I finally got honest with myself and realized I needed to have that surgeon and medical equipment all right there “just in case” and to make it even better, insurance covered that! It wasn’t that I feared birth, but I just realized that having the doubt and worry of the “what if’s” in the back of my mind would hinder my birth process. What I wanted though is to be left alone if everything was great. I wanted a natural “homebirth” in the hospital. I really thought I was crazy though; no way an O.B. would do what homebirth midwives do for women. He’s just too busy and doesn’t really care. I also knew though that he couldn’t do anything that I didn’t consent to, and it didn’t hurt to ask. So I put together what I thought was a very radical birth plan for my O.B. (which basically took almost everything I love about homebirth and just requested it in the hospital setting) and presented it to him. His response left me in tears. He had absolutely no problem with anything on there and said it was a very reasonable plan. He told me that this is my birth, my body, my baby, and what I say goes. The only thing that would change some things on my plan is if there’s a complication, and even then he’ll let me know what’s going on and why he’s not able to follow the plan. Of course, the whole reason I’m at the hospital is just in case there’s a complication, so I had no problem with him handling one if it arises and I let him know that.
There was a problem with taking my placenta home, but that was with the hospital not the doctor. He gave me the name of a great nurse manager and said she should be able to help me. I contacted her, and she thought it was just great that I planned on encapsulating my placenta and she sees no reason why I shouldn’t be able to take it home, but she’ll look into what form I need to fill out to do this. She was surprised and very upset to find out hospital policy states I can’t take it home because it’s a biohazard. She took it up with the legal department, and was advocating for me. Everyone knew they had no legal right to refuse my placenta to me, but didn’t know how to go about letting me take it so they just said no. After several weeks of back and forth between her and I and the legal department, I received a phone call from her, from her personal cell phone on her day off, letting me know that not only did they decide to let me take my placenta home, but they are changing the hospital policy and making a consent form for not just me, but women in the future to use if they want to take their placenta home! Talk about a victory!
I made up detailed but brief birth plan and when I did, I realized that there was so much info for everyone to look at, but not all of it applied to everyone. I figured I had more of a chance of the staff actually reading it and following it if I broke it down in categories for specific staff members. So for example; the doctor had his plan, the labor and delivery nurses had labor plans and delivery plans, the postpartum nurses had their plan etc. I also made I nice cover letter on it thanking everyone for taking the time to read through it and how much we appreciated their respect (I figured I’ll have a better experience if I can get them to respect my wishes nicely, but would of course break out my big girl voice if needed, but only if needed). I had a copy in my chart in L&D, one with me, and several “baby care plans” with me for every nurse that walked in the room to have! I wasn’t going to take any chances that someone would care for us not knowing what we wanted!
I still had my doubts of course, but over-all felt very confident in my decision to birth at the hospital again. I knew that was the right choice for us and was willing and ready to fight for the birth we wanted.
I was working, for the first time, on establishing a relationship with my doctor who I now adored. He made me feel so comfortable and reassured me that I can talk to him about whatever I needed and I realized that he really did care. I started seeing him at most of my appointments and felt so positive about him being present at my birth. In May I decided to ask him if he’s planning any vacations in June because of what happened with my last birth (remember… same due date!). I was very upset to learn that he’d be gone from 39 weeks to my due date again!!! On top of that, he would be on call only four days out of the whole month! He said he would write me a slip saying that he wants to be called when I go into labor even if he’s not on call, but of course that’s not a guarantee that he’ll be there. He also offered to once again induce me before he left if my cervix was favorable, but no pressure of course. I was very upset about this, but I kept telling myself that everything will work out perfectly and I just had to have faith of that. I needed to trust my body and God. I WON’T go into labor when he can’t be there!
Labor is right around the corner…
The whole pregnancy I had a strong feeling that Malachi would make his grand entrance before his due date. I was really leaning toward June 16th. I had several little “talks” with him, letting him know I needed him to wait until the craziness of June has passed (so after June 12th, his sister’s 4th birthday). I would ask him when he’ll be born, and he always told me between 38 and 39 weeks (with a little kick every time I asked). I really didn’t mind going over my due date because of how crazy our schedule was in June, and I thought there’s no way I’ll actually go into labor on my own before my due date, but I just couldn’t knock the feeling so I made sure to have everything ready by 36 weeks like my body and baby were telling me!
At 35 weeks 6 days the random “Braxton hicks” contractions (or as I like to call them, pre-labor contractions) became very frequent and more intense. Before, I was getting them a few times a day and was barely noticeable, but now I was getting several every hour, all throughout the day, and they were intense enough that I noticed them. They continued like this every day. He also got much lower in my pelvis. Everyone noticed that he had dropped. This was during the weekend that hubby and I went out of town for our anniversary. We were so excited! We took lots of pictures of me with my beautiful belly and did our belly cast that weekend.
36 weeks 5 days (still having the frequent pre-labor contractions every day) I started losing my mucus plug. This continued every day. The day after I hit 37 weeks I felt very peaceful and content with being pregnant. I had a busy and fun week planned (including our wedding anniversary) and I was just happy. I had a very strong feeling that this was going to be my last week of pregnancy and I was going to enjoy it! That Wednesday night the plug I lost was very thick. I started getting excited at this point. Another notable thing that happened that day was a very strong and primal urge to clean wired things. I had a huge, random burst of energy and HAD to take down my curtains and wash them! That turned into the need to vacuum the couch and that turned into the need to detail vacuum the entire house, etc…!
Very early Thursday morning (37 weeks 4 days) I had an appointment with the midwife I had seen with all my pregnancies. I normally saw her so much, but it had been a few months since I saw her last so we were both excited to see each other and it was a great appointment. I had her check me to see if my cervix was changing. I was 1-2 cm. dilated, about 50% effaced, and baby was engaged at a -2 station! Everything was looking great. I still needed to get that slip from the doctor saying that he wanted to be contacted when I go into labor even if he’s not on call, but he wasn’t in that day. The midwife reassured me that I tend to go over my due date so I’ll probably be fine, but she’ll make sure to mention it to him and maybe get that slip in my chart for me.
Maybe an hour after I got home, I got a call from the office saying they had the slip there ready for me to pick up whenever I could! That was a huge relief for me!
Later that afternoon (after a very busy day of end of the school year celebrations for my girls) I got my first adjustment at the chiropractor along with my girls. (Side note: I had been checked by the midwife at about 7:30 am and the chiro appointment was at 4:30. I used the bathroom several times between those times and didn’t have any spotting or more loss of plug) When I got home from the chiropractor (around 6:00 pm) I used the bathroom and had bloody show! I never had bloody show with my other pregnancies so I was very excited, but also very nervous. I didn’t know how soon that meant I would go into labor, and my “June craziness” was at its peak! Delilah’s dress rehearsal was tomorrow, her recital the next day, and her birthday a few days away. I needed to be there for her, not in labor! I asked around and everyone reassured me that it could just be because I was checked that morning, and if it is true “bloody show” it could still be another week before I go into labor, or it could be 24 hours. No way to know for sure.
I knew this wasn’t from being checked. I had been checked so many times in the past and never had this. It wasn’t spotting; it was a huge piece of plug tinged with a good amount of blood. My contractions had also picked up a little in intensity, but were still irregular and spaced apart. At 2:00 am I woke up to use the bathroom and had another good amount of bloody show!
Early labor starts…
Friday morning (37 weeks 5 days) I was so nervous and excited. Still though, my friend that’s a midwife said that the “show” could just be from being checked and I could get that for up to 24 hours. All the show that I had was with-in the 24 hour mark, so maybe it was just from that. Around 4:00 pm I was resting on the couch and the contractions really picked up in intensity. They weren’t very painful but intense. They were about 10 minutes apart. I got up and used the bathroom and lost another large piece of bloody plug. I freaked out! I just knew that I was in early labor, and I was about to get everyone ready to leave for Delilah’s dress rehearsal!! My mom was with me so that made me feel a little better. I started calling all my support people to give them the heads up, but I told myself I wasn’t going to allow myself to go into labor yet. I know my mindset has something to do with this, and I also know I can slow the process down my stressing out. Stress produces cortisol which can stop labor until the time is right. So I let myself freak out, and it did indeed slow down the contractions.
I got through the dress rehearsal and they started picking up again. I still wanted to hold out until I got through the recital, but I was bringing the girls to their dad so I was less stressed about it. Worst case; her dad could get her to the recital.
The contractions continued through the night and when I used the bathroom Saturday morning I lost the biggest piece of bloody plug yet! My body was also “cleaning out” and the more intense contractions were still irregular and light, but still there! I knew this was early labor and I figured I’d have this baby this weekend for sure. Once again, I was still determined to make it to my daughters dance recital. I figured I pushed it back this far, I can make it till tonight! After her recital I’d let my body do its thing and have this baby. I talked to Malachi about it too, telling him I understand he’s ready, but please let Delilah have her big day. I explained to him that he’s not my only child and I have to be there for big sis too!
I made it through the recital!
Ok baby, we can do this now! Ideally, I still wanted to wait until after the 12th so I could be totally focused on Delilah on her birthday, but I was ok with having baby on the 10th.
So it was the night of the 9th. Hubby and I had some alone time and the contractions got really painful. I was bouncing on my birth ball and they hurt in my back really bad. It was about 11:00 pm, and we were watching a movie. All of a sudden I got in a really bad mood and felt like I didn’t want to do this tonight. I was really tired and just wanted to sleep NOW! So we turned off the movie and went to bed. The contractions hurt so badly. I couldn’t time them because that threw me out of my “zone”. I just knew they hurt and I had to sleep before they hurt worse.
I woke up close to 1:00 am sweating terribly, and I was still in a very bad mood. I used the bathroom and noticed these contractions were still there and still hurt. I debated calling my labor support and heading to the hospital and I realized I really didn’t want to do this at night. I didn’t want to bother anyone or wake anyone up, and all I wanted to do was sleep! I just decided I wouldn’t do this before 6:00 am. (I think this was actually at 3:00 am… not sure about the time but I know I woke up several times before deciding this.)
At exactly 6:00 am I woke up. I was ready now. I got up and started walking around. I noticed I was in a better mood now. When I walked the contractions picked up. They were decently intense and felt regular. So I just walked, ate some light foods, and bounced on the ball. I did my make-up, got dressed, and did my hair. I realized we were out of light foods (that was all I was eating since Friday… that was all I wanted to eat) and thought we should go to Meijer and pick up some food. I thought all that walking around would help me jump into active labor for sure. Marcel woke up around 7:30 and I shared my plans to go to Meijer and told him these contractions never went away. So, super excited, we went to Meijer.
My contractions continued while I was walking around the store, but got a little milder which concerned me but I didn’t want to dwell on it. After we got done there we talked about getting breakfast at McDonald’s and I had a very sudden and strong craving for a “McGriddles” sandwich. I was confused about why, after days of wanting only light foods, all of a sudden I NEEDED this sandwich with sausage and egg on it, but I knew I had to listen to my body so I went with it. We got home, watched some T.V., and I devoured my breakfast sandwich. I was starving and exhausted. I slept terribly the night before and had been walking for hours now and I was just drained! Just as I realized that, I also realized my contractions had stopped. “You’ve got to be kidding” I thought. “I just want to get this over with!” I knew I needed rest, sleep, water, and food. So I just did what my body told me to, and my labor totally stopped. No more plug loss, no more frequent trips to the bathroom, no more contractions; not even light ones!
I was so frustrated…
I thought maybe I just can’t go into labor; my body is broken. When I was induced, I picked a day, had hours of intense labor, and had a baby in my arms. That’s way easier than days of this crap… I was done! Thankfully I have a great support team of women that are very supportive of natural labor, and they all encouraged me. They reassured me that my body is doing exactly what it needs to do. It’s just giving me a break because of how tired I am. The last thing I should be doing is stressing (which I already knew but forgot in all my frustration). I now need to focus on eating, drinking, resting, sleeping, and staying happy and peaceful. So that was my new focus. Really, I didn’t want to have him quite yet anyway right? I was hoping he’d wait till after Delilah’s birthday. So I happily waited for active labor to kick into gear while taking good care of me and my baby.
Delilah’s birthday passed…
So now it was the 13th. I was 38 weeks 3 days pregnant and I had a prenatal appointment with the doctor, who was leaving for vacation on the 16th. The pressure was on… come on baby! I was nervous that the doctor was going to pressure me into getting induced. I wasn’t really nervous about the doctor, but that I was going to give in again. I was so ready to have my baby, and getting nervous, once again, about active labor hitting after doctor leaves.
The appointment went better than I had expected
The doctor gave me NO pressure to induce, and actually did quite the opposite; he didn’t give me the option. I requested to be checked again, thinking all that labor I had last weekend, I must have made SOME progress! He asked if I was dilated enough if I would let him strip my membranes and I said YES! I was hoping he would do that… Well, I was dilated maybe 2 cm, 50% effaced, and baby’s head was still floating! So not only did my cervix not change since last week, baby moved UP in my pelvis! He didn’t want to strip my membranes and take the chance of breaking my water. I was seriously fighting back tears. He was so sweet and comforting. He made sure I had the slip he wrote so he will be called when I go into labor, and said “hopefully you’ll go into labor in the next day or two!” He sympathetically rubbed my shoulder as he went to leave and told me to hang in there. He was so awesome with me… I just had to have him there when I go into labor! He had been on call the day before, and would be on call on the 14th too. He was already so tired because he had only 2 hours of sleep even though he wasn’t on call, but he did an emergency section on a 30 week babe because the on call doctor wasn’t available. Something must be wrong with me…
I left there crying. I was even more frustrated now, knowing all those contractions did nothing. I, once again, felt my body was broken and I decided that when I saw him when he gets back, I’ll just set up an induction. I obviously can’t do this. I had to break the news to Marcel and he was so sad. We both just wanted to meet our little boy! At the same time, I knew this attitude was not going to help me go into labor for sure. I had to stop caring, as hard as that was. I talked some things out with Marcel. We said its fine, we can wait. We could use a couple weeks to sleep in and rest now that the crazy part is over. Baby will be here when he’s good and ready. I decided my new mission was to spoil myself silly so I’ll be good and ready for all the work ahead of me! I got a pedicure (something I was putting off for months… I couldn’t reach my feet!), and my adorable toe nails made me feel great! Then for dinner, I had hubby grill some rib eye’s; one of our favorite meals. We were both feeling so much better already.
By the evening I was feeling pretty awesome. I never spoil myself and it felt so good! I just finally let go and tried not to care about going into labor. I wasn’t going to do anything to try and induce labor either. I just wasn’t going to stress about it anymore. I got on Facebook and talked with a friend that was going through stop and go early labor with me. I shared my frustrations of having made no progress, and she told me there’s no such thing. Just because my cervix didn’t change doesn’t mean progress wasn’t made and maybe my body was just working on getting baby in the right position. That right there made me feel a million times better, but then she also had posted a link to spinningbabies.com (a website I was already familiar with but had never read this part… spinningbabies.com is packed with amazing information, and the creator, Gail, had painted my belly when I was 31 weeks! Now I’m getting off topic…) that showed how the baby’s position could affect labor. I dug a little deeper and found an area on the site just for women in labor titled “my starter is broken”. It went into details on why some women experience early labor that starts and stops, and how to help get baby in the right position to finally kick into active labor.
Now, I know I had just said I was going to give up, but I couldn’t read this amazing information and not give this a try! Especially before the doctor left on his vacation! So I decided that tomorrow (June 14th) I was going to work on getting baby in the right position, and also spoil myself some more. If that didn’t work, then fine, I give up for real this time!
The morning of the 14th I did nothing but eat, drink, and do the exercises suggested on the website. I was working on getting him in the right position and then engaged in my pelvis. My girls’ dad picked them up for the afternoon, and shortly after Marcel went to work; perfect time to spoil myself some more! I went to physical therapy (for my SPD) and then made a spontaneous visit to the chiropractor. I picked up some Middle Eastern food (one of my favorites) and ate a huge portion of Baba Ganoosh, which is made out of eggplant. I was so ready!
Well, it was late and I wasn’t even having contractions (aside from the normal, random, non-intense contractions I always had) so I figured I’ll just be pregnant forever and I don’t care anyway.
June 15th 38 weeks 5 days
I remember rolling out of bed that morning, in so much pain like always, limping to the bathroom (SPD REALLY SUCKS) and thinking to myself “Oh God, how am I going to live like this for a few more weeks… I can’t do this! I’m SO done being pregnant!” I was feeling a lot of cramping and noticed I was having the more intense type of contractions, but didn’t really think much about it. The thought passed my mind that maybe I’m in labor, but I wouldn’t let myself get excited again… I was going to be pregnant forever!
The contractions kept coming
All morning; the typical random contractions, just a little more noticeable. I texted my birth photographer and said “I’ve been having contractions all morning. Probably nothing again, but I wanted to give you the heads up anyway.” She was the only one I gave heads up to. She was one of the very few people I had kept updated through my labor progress because I felt very private. I think part of it was because of the fear of “false alarms” and I just didn’t know how natural labor would go for me, but one thing was for sure; I wanted my birth photographer there! So I didn’t care about embarrassment, as long as it insured that she’d be there!
After I texted her I used the bathroom (which was happening more a lot this morning…) and found bloody show! The first bloody show since last Saturday! With that I just knew… I was in labor! With all the stop and go early labor, I still had a strong feeling today was the day. I cried tears of relief and excitement. I walked up to Marcel crying, and he asked what was wrong with a very concerned look on his face. I said, “I’m in labor!!!” I of course let my birth photographer know, but again did give both her and Marcel the warning that it’s still early, and it might stall out again (even though I knew it wouldn’t).
From there I was very calm and peaceful. I knew exactly what I wanted and needed to do. I got some things done around the house, and sent Marcel to work at the usual time. I told him to let everyone know when he gets there that he won’t be staying the whole shift because I’m in labor, and to be waiting for my call. I talked to my midwife friend on the phone shortly after he left. She had me describe the contractions to her. At that point they had increased in intensity, and I felt them in my back a lot, but they were still spaced apart maybe 15 minutes and I didn’t know if they were regular (timing contractions threw me totally out of my peaceful zone so I stayed away from that). I told her I was confused about the back pain because I knew he wasn’t posterior and she reassured me that what I was feeling wasn’t back labor, but just “true labor contractions” and everything sounds really good. I was giving my girls a bath at the time and my back was really tense and hurt even when I wasn’t having a contraction.
After I got the house around, my kids bathed, dressed, and hair braided, I decided it was time to relax (maybe around 3:00) so I sat down to watch a movie with my girls and soak up as much time with them as possible before I would be focused on a baby. I also made sure all day to stay hydrated and eat a lot of light foods to keep my energy up. I didn’t have much of an appetite, but I ate what I could. I really liked popsicles!
I put on Happy Feet 2 and cuddled up with my girls on the couch. I really noticed the contractions while sitting and relaxing. I noticed they were still pretty far apart but more intense than any other contractions I had felt this pregnancy. I was dozing off at some points, and very deeply relaxed. I will admit though, I had a hard time focusing on that movie!
The contractions were so intense I was looking for a hand to squeeze through them. My oldest was sitting next to me so I held her hand. It was very comforting. I didn’t feel scared at all that I was the only adult in the house with three little girls and in labor; it was actually comforting. My mom had called me shortly before and I didn’t even feel the need to tell her I was in labor. She told me she was going grocery shopping and I was ok with that. I figured baby wouldn’t be here till late in the evening. I was so calm and happy just sharing this with my girls. I didn’t want anyone else there.
I timed a few to see if they were regular and to get an idea of how far apart they were and some were 10 minutes, then 12, then 14, then 11 so I knew I was still safe. I texted the photographer again though just to let her know they were much more intense. She offered to come over, but once again, I felt very peaceful with just having my girls there with me and I knew if she came over that would throw me out of that and could even stall labor. I also wanted her to wait until after Marcel got home, and I still hadn’t told him to come home! At 4:19 she said “Don’t wait too long! Everyone might miss it!” That got me really excited and I couldn’t sit anymore. I got up to use the bathroom and found more bloody show! I broke out the video camera and started documenting my labor.
In early labor
I also started writing everything down. I knew this was it, but I was still confused about why they were irregular and spaced so far apart, but so intense. I couldn’t walk or talk through them, which is what I had been told to watch out for and should head to L&D, but they also say about 6 minutes apart and that intense. I texted my midwife friend and asked if it’s possible that they’ll stay this far apart and I’ll have the baby like that, or if I should still wait to go in. I also got a hold of my dad and let him know I was for sure in labor and I’ll have him come out to watch the girls soon, but it’ll be a while still (around 4:45). My friend texted me back at 4:58 saying that they will get closer, but when to go up depends on if I want to mainly labor at home or not. My plan was to labor at home as long as possible, but at the same time these were so intense, I was nervous about going up there when it got worse. Then again, I didn’t want a false alarm!
I decided to wait till they got closer. I was instant messaging the photographer on Facebook letting her know my plan, and she told me she would be staying close just in case. My dad called me at 5:00. As I answered the phone I had a contraction and that’s when I realized I couldn’t talk through them at all! He was telling me he wanted to head over to my place since he had an hour drive. I STILL felt hesitant about that, but I knew he was right and it’d be good to have him head our way. As I was hanging up the phone with him I had another contraction. Wait… I wasn’t on the phone with him for 10 minutes… I looked at the timer, 7 minutes. Hmm... are they getting closer together? I had two more that were 7 minutes apart, and all of a sudden I started getting nervous and felt like we had to leave for the hospital NOW. Oh wait… I was alone with my girls! I told my dad to hurry (I believe… it’s getting hazy now…) and I texted Marcel and said he needs to come home NOW. I told the photographer to wait somewhere in town, but I still didn’t want her getting there before hubby. Marcel got out of work in I think 2 minutes. It was super-fast and I was super relieved.
About 6:00 Marcel was home and the contractions were still exactly 7 minutes apart. I helped him remember what all he needed to get together and asked if he was ready for the photographer to meet up with us. I honestly didn’t feel like being photographed at all and debated telling her I changed my mind. Again, I felt so private. I didn’t even post anything about any of this on Facebook, and I didn’t tell anyone except my support. I knew that if I didn’t have her photograph my birth I’d regret it for the rest of my life so I got over that and had her come over. She was on her way at 6:18 pm.
Birth photography by Tiffany West
My dad was still not there because he was held up in traffic! I said as soon as he gets here we’re leaving! He got there around 6:40 (just after the photographer) and I said my goodbye’s to the girls, who were so excited and bouncing off the walls at this point. I was glad to leave my hyper children and over excited dad and head to the quiet hospital!
The trip to the hospital
It wasn’t bad. I did feel every bump during a contraction, and that was rough, but not as terrible as I expected. I was thinking I was maybe 3 or 4 cm dilated; hoping for at least 3 cm so I know I’m actually in labor! I was so focused on labor and relaxing that I totally forgot our photographer was following us!
We were almost to the hospital and my mom called me back (I attempted to contact her several times, but she was still shopping!). It sounded like she wasn’t really convinced I was in labor, which frustrated me badly, so I told her to just wait till I got to the hospital and was checked, knowing that she probably wouldn’t make it in time anyway since she had an hour drive. (As I’m writing this I’m noticing that part of me knew I was having a baby soon, and another part of me was still scared it was just a false alarm… I think this is because I never went into labor naturally and had so much prodromal labor and false alarms in the past.)
In the hospital parking lot I debated having Marcel drop me off at the entrance and get me a wheelchair, but I decided against it. I actually really liked walking as long as I wasn’t having a contraction. We were laughing and joking while heading up to the fourth floor; I couldn’t hold back my excitement!
So happy, even right after an intense contraction!
In the lobby, trying to make it to the elevators before the next contraction, but didn’t make it! A nice woman spotted me though and held the elevator for me. She knew what floor we were headed to and told us good luck and congrats! Wow… is this really happening?!
We made it up there around 7:25pm. I knew my doctor wasn’t on call and asked who was; the one doctor I heard nothing but terrible things about and absolutely did not want at my birth. I almost freaked out, but was actually very calm and handed the nurse the slip my doctor gave me and told her to call him. I just knew at that point, that if my doctor would not be able to be there, I’d be having an unassisted birth. There was no way I’d have the on call doctor… no way.
Sitting down on the triage bed was VERY uncomfortable. Then the nurse asked me to lean back some on the bed so she could get the monitors on me, and for the first and only time during this whole experience I thought about how I wouldn’t have to do this with a homebirth and this sucks! I was hurting so badly at this point. They had me sign the “consent to treatment” form, and I almost just signed it because I was in so much pain, but I knew better. So I crossed off the parts I wasn’t giving consent to, and attached the form I had made up stating exactly what routine procedures I was not consenting to. I was surprised at how awkward that was for me, even though I was so prepared for that. It wasn’t a big deal at all, and the LPN just said she’d get that attached right away.
The RN came in to check my cervix. When she got in there I was having a contraction and she introduced herself to me but I wasn’t able to answer her. Marcel said hi for me and explained I was in the middle of a contraction and she didn’t respond. I felt friction there, like she was just not very friendly. As I was getting through the contraction, I decided to be super sweet and maybe a little funny. I know my rights, and I know I can be a bitch and get my way no matter what, but I also knew that I really wanted happy faces and no attitudes, so I’d try first to get them all to like me before playing the bitch card. So once the contraction was done, I looked at her and said, “Hi, nice to meet you, I’m Jessica” with a nice smile on my face. She chuckled a little and said “well nice to meet you too Jessica”. I instantly felt more comfortable with her.
Here it is… moment of truth. That initial exam is so nerve wrecking. It’s the exam that tells you if you’ll be having a baby tonight or if all this pain is a false alarm and you’ll be going home now (which is what always happened to me). I know how to check my cervix, but couldn’t reach up high enough to get to it, but I knew as soon as her fingers reached my cervix that I was at least 4 cm by the way her fingers opened and the fact that she said “oh yeah…” I was already very excited, and then her “oh yeah” was followed with “you’re about 5-6 cm dilated!” (90% effaced and baby was at a 0 station) What?!?
I instantly started bawling. I’m really in labor, all on my own! No Pitocin, just me, my body, my baby, and a lot of hard work!
I DID THIS! I’M GOING TO HAVE A BABY TONIGHT!!!
It was one of the most gratifying moments in my life. I just wanted to sit there and bask in my glory and empowerment, but the nurses were rushing in to get me to a delivery room and get me changed. They had urgency in their voices when they explained to me that we had to hurry because this is baby number 4 and I’m almost 6 cm dilated! It made me so excited to know I was that close, but I wasn’t in a rush. I knew I had enough time to change and get to my room. Both the LPN and RN let me know they read through my birth plan and I could tell they knew what I wanted already and it was awesome (so glad I broke it down in categories for them with how fast everything was going)! I requested to wear my special delivery gown and they helped me get dressed which was kind of annoying because I could do it on my own and they didn’t know how my gown worked!
They asked me if I want a wheelchair and again I refused one which they were impressed by. I still felt good standing! As I was walking to my room, (7:40 pm) I saw my RN and asked if she had gotten a hold of my doctor yet. She said she had paged him and was waiting to hear back which made me a little nervous. She asked me if I was ok with them putting an I.V. in place, but they won’t hook anything up to it unless it’s an emergency and I was fine with that. The way I saw it is that I was there in case of an emergency. That’s what made me feel better, and I knew this was one of those things that made getting through an emergency easier and I had no problem with that, same as them monitoring the baby. I just didn’t want anything hooked up to the I.V. and they knew that.
Once I got to my room I looked at that bed and thought “there’s no way I’m getting in that, and I don’t have to”. I asked if they had a birth ball around, and she had one right there in the bathroom for me. So I sat on that while they monitored baby and my contractions. I was very comfortable there and I had my favorite person right there by my side holding my hand through each contraction.
I love that his picture shows my positive attitude and happy state in very active labor
As we were getting settled, the RN popped in and told me she has my doctor on the phone (HUGE weight lifted off my shoulders) and he wants to know if I’ll let him break my water if he comes in. I thought to myself “oh I’m going to kick him in the balls when he gets here, how about that”, but then I thought about it for a minute (well, I was having a contraction and couldn’t talk anyway). He had a very rough week and it’s his night off. He’s going on vacation tomorrow. He really doesn’t have to come in. He’s asking me if I’m willing to speed up the process for him. I get that, even though I don’t agree with speeding up labor, I get where he’s coming from. He’s not even up here yet, and by the time he gets here I’ll probably be pushing anyway. I NEED him here (that was very clear to me). So I told the nurse, “If that’s what it takes for him to come up here, then yes, he can break my water”.
So now I just waited for my doctor to get there, welcoming every contraction that brought me closer to holding my baby. I didn’t fear them at all, even though they were very painful at this point. With my previous labors I feared every contraction, but not this time. This was very different from my previous labors. My body and my baby were ready and we were doing this on our own!
The LPN attempted to get my I.V. in but the vein blew. I would only let them place it in my left arm on the top so it would be out of the way and not interfere with breastfeeding. That vein wasn’t working for her. I didn’t really give her another option, so she called for I.V. therapy so they could see if they could find a good vein. It felt like forever till they got there, and I’m not sure of the actual time they did get there, but the guy from I.V. therapy was awesome. Took him a couple seconds to place it in the same vein she said wouldn’t work. This is a great example of why you should request a second opinion!
Less than an hour before my baby was born and the doctor was still not there! My contractions were now about 4 minutes apart (Marcel tells me) and very intense. I was starting to feel some rectal pressure with them and I was getting nervous. I felt like I was holding back. I really needed my doctor there. I was very comfortable with him and felt very close to him. I just needed him around to feel safe enough to birth my baby. I started getting anxious about the fact that he wasn’t there yet, but still remained calm.
In between contractions I had Marcel set up our video camera on a tripod because I wanted the whole birth process captured; everything that was said, every sound, everything. It was hard for him because I needed him right there with me through every contraction, so he had to run back and forth to set it up!
8:45 pm The doctor is here!
I remember so clearly the moment he walked in the room. I could smell him before I even heard his voice (he wears very strong cologne!) and I was instantly relieved! I said, “You made it!” and I must have had the biggest smile on my face. He said he had a feeling I’d have this baby in the next day or two, and I reminded him that I told him I wouldn’t have this baby when he was on vacation! There were a lot of smiles and laughs and I felt very safe and secure. He asked if I was ok with him checking to see where things are at and possibly breaking my water and I said that’s fine. He said after that I can get in the Jacuzzi or back on the birth ball; whatever I feel like doing. He estimated I was about 6.5 cm along now. I told him I was feeling rectal pressure. He said, “Well maybe you’re a little further along…” He reassured me that he reviewed my birth plan again and is on board with everything.
I climbed on the dreaded bed and lay down so he could check my cervix. That hurt bad. I didn’t like lying down at all, but I was ok with him checking me so it was fine. He patiently waited through a contraction so I was comfortable. He said, “Well that’s why you’re feeling so much pressure… you’re about 9 cm dilated and at about a +1 station!” Haha, I knew it! He broke my water which I was totally fine with and guessed with me about how many more contractions I would have till we had a birthday.
I was smiling, everyone was laughing and joking, it was so fun. He complemented me with how well I was in control. The lights were still turned down like they were the whole time, and I felt so powerful, happy, and peaceful. He asked me what I wanted to do now, giving me some off the bed suggestions, but I just wanted to stay where I was for the time being. He just said no problem, do what I need to do and he’ll just be hanging out here doing his “doctor thing.” I was told by the photographer and my husband that it seemed like he was meditating or sleeping on his stool, just hanging out with us. (I guess this was in between all his funny jokes… he had us all laughing and I still laugh when I watch the video, which I had Marcel start when I was lying down for the exam and we taped all the way till a couple hours after birth.)
The contractions were so very intense. After maybe two contractions after he broke my water I felt a small urge to push but fought it. I told him I felt a little pushy with that one and was holding back. He didn’t do anything about it, which is what I wanted, but I found myself a little scared to push without being told I’m complete and can push. It was amazing. Here I had researched so much about trusting my body and listening to my instincts and there I was, looking for direction to push! Thankfully the doctor knew my plan and just left me alone.
So I was searching for the strength to listen to my body and trust my ability to birth this baby without a doctor’s direction. It did take a few contractions to get there. It felt like forever, but realistically I think there was about 10 minutes of contractions with no urge to push. I realize now this was the time it took for me to gather myself and follow my body’s direction. I reminded the doctor not to clamp the cord right away, and he said absolutely and he didn’t forget. It was like I was making sure everything was perfect and in order before I brought my baby earth side. I still didn’t fear each contraction like I did with my other labors. They did hurt and were very intense, but I was aware of everything going on and felt like I was in total control of everything. It was an amazing feeling, especially knowing how close I was to giving birth, and still felt so calm and secure.
The doctor told the nurse to remove my contraction monitor because he could clearly see when I was having a contraction. I laughed.
I remember clearly the moment I realized I wanted to raise the bed more. I realized I didn’t want to give birth on my back and that’s exactly how I was at the moment! So I put the back up a little at a time. Every time I raised the bed, I had more pressure with every contraction and that urge to bear down was coming back; only this time I felt ready for it. I didn’t feel the need to strongly bear down, but I liked the feeling and wanted to continue letting my body bear down on its own. It felt great. I was grunting through the contractions and toward the end of them quietly moaned “oh yeah” because just felt awesome!
The doctor, who was still leaving me alone, could tell I was getting close and started getting things quietly ready. He said he had a feeling that when it’s time this baby is gonna get here like “gang busters” (whatever that meant!) so he wants to get ready. He told me he wanted to eliminate some of the chaos by not breaking down the bed, but instead we can just lower the foot part of the bed (as a precaution in case he needed to do something with the shoulders) and he tucked in the bag to catch all the “shtuff” under my bum.
My grunts were getting pretty loud and the nurse asked if I felt like I could push (which I ignored because I didn’t want to hear that). The doctor quickly corrected her and said my body is naturally bearing down right now and he thinks baby’s head is “right there”. A couple contractions later he checked to see if he was right, and he said “oh yeah, the head is right there”. He asked if I could move my bottom to the edge of the higher part of the bed. When I did that I couldn’t lean on the back of the bed anymore so I was straight up in a squat and held myself up with my arms off the back of the bed, and my feet were on the lowered part of the bed. I had one contraction in this position and it was the first and only one that I felt a strong urge to bear down with and it was the most amazing, powerful, and gratifying contraction I have ever had. I could feel his head moving down as a pushed and he was right there, and I did all of this on my own, with no I.V., and everything was going exactly as I had hoped, and it all lead up to that moment. I felt like I was a goddess and could conquer anything. I was moaning very loudly, screaming “Oh yeah” over and over. If anyone heard me in the hallway, they must have wondered if I was having a baby or making love. It was the most empowering moment of my life and also brought my baby’s head low enough to see!
That baby was right there, ready to greet the world. The doctor wanted to follow my plan of having my husband help with the delivery so he had him get gloves on and told me I had to lay back some if I wanted him to help. I really did not want to do that, and it hurt to lean back, but I really wanted Marcel to have an active part in receiving our son. As a struggled to lean back, I heard the nurse say to someone “no one can come in right now, she’s in the threshold!” I yelled, “who is it?!” and heard my mom say “it’s your mother!” I knew how badly she wanted to witness his birth, so I said, with much relief and shock that she made it in time, “she can come in!” I told her where to stand and with that hit the crowning contraction.
Now that did hurt, really bad. I screamed because that ring of fire was SO intense! I recognized that this was the crowning ring of fire so many women talk about (not sure why I didn’t notice it with my other births… maybe because I wasn’t as aware of what was going on?) and said, “he’s crowning isn’t he?!?” I heard everyone say “oh yeah, he’s right here” and specifically remember Marcel looking up at me and saying “he’s right here baby!” and that was so comforting.
The next push I birthed my sons head into my husband’s hands. Again, everyone was talking, but what I remember is seeing Marcel’s face. He kept me centered through the pain. He was so amazed and excited and said “Oh my God, oh baby, here he is!” I tried looking down so I could see him, but I couldn’t see around my belly. I’m so happy that I was so conscious and aware of all this and I think it’s so amazing that all I remember is Marcel. It felt so natural to have him down there telling me what was going on and encouraging me. I think God meant for it to be this way; for the father to receive his child and be involved in the birth in this way.
Then doctor told me he needs me to push again for the shoulders. I didn’t feel the urge to, so I asked if I had to do that right now. He said yes he needs to get this shoulder out, and I knew this was a crucial time and trusted him (I found out later that one of his shoulders came out with his head, something that we had discussed prenatally as one of the reasons he’d tell me to push the shoulders out without the urge to do so) so I pushed as hard as I could and ouch did that hurt! I never had pain when I birthed my daughter’s shoulders, but this boy has some broad shoulders!
9:16 pm I heard everyone say “here he is!” and I opened my eyes and saw Marcel handing my beautiful baby boy to me! I immediately said, “Oh sweetie, oh baby, oh my God, hi sweetie” and fell completely in love.
Words just can’t describe this moment. I’m so thankful for these pictures though, because my photographer perfectly captured this moment for us and they perfectly show how I felt! I was laughing and crying and felt like I was floating on a cloud.
I cleaned off Malachi’s face while I was in awe at my beautiful baby that I birthed, after months of growing him inside of me! I did it! I felt so strong and amazed at how perfectly my body created this child and brought him earth side and so thankful to God for giving my body this ability!
Just a few minutes after he was born the cord stopped pulsating and the doctor asked me if I wanted to double check and make sure I didn’t feel any pulsating. I enjoyed feeling the cord, and it was indeed done, so Marcel cut the cord.
Aside from the nursery nurse checking his breathing and putting on our bands, no one touched him. No one took him from me at all, just like I stated in my plan. There was no resistance or problems with this. No one even tried to take him.
Malachi was so calm and peaceful in my arms.
This image is very powerful to me. This was the first birth my mother was able to witness, and I love how she looks over at our initial bonding, looking so satisfied and happy for us.
Pure, raw, excitement and joy!
I was so happy to be able to kiss his sweet head before he was cleaned off and handed to me like a little burrito.
Look how excited the RN was for us… The only people in the room during his birth besides Marcel and I were my birth photographer, my mom, my doctor, the RN and LPN who was aware of our birth plan, and one nurse from the nursery that was told to read our plan as well. We had no need to give anyone else our “baby care plan”. Everyone knew exactly what we wanted and followed it perfectly. If there was anything they weren’t sure of, they asked. Everyone was very respectful of our needs. Once the placenta detached and delivered, the doctor worked quickly to finish up so he could get out of our way. He checked me for tears, thinking I might have torn more since Marcel delivered the baby, and I only had a small skid mark in the perennial area. After numbing me up really well he gave me a couple stiches, made sure the nurses knew what we were doing with our placenta, gave us tons of congrats, and had the nurses turn off the overhead light so we can peacefully get baby to the breast.
9:30, less than 20 minutes after birth, I was able to breastfeed my baby. He hadn’t even been weighed yet!
He latched on perfectly, and stayed on for an hour!
The nurses would check in on us to see if we needed anything, and to monitor my bleeding and blood pressure. The nursery nurse told me to let her know when I was ready for her to do his assessments and said she can just do his bath at the same time. I let her know I just wanted his hair washed with my baby wash, and she said that was no problem.
Enjoying my calm, peaceful bonding time!
At 10:30 the girls meet their baby brother! (He still had not left my arms!) He was so alert and peaceful, as soon as they stood next to the bed and he heard them, he turned to look at them and checked them out. A beautiful sibling bonding moment!
Malachi decided an hour wasn’t enough time to eat… so he nursed on the other breast for another 45 minutes!! After the girls left I was so curious about how much he weighed, so I paged the nursery nurse to come in and do his assessments.
She came in around 11:30 pm. He was so content and peaceful he didn’t even fuss while she was checking him out, and I was able to watch and focus on him.
He weighed 8 lbs. 14 oz.! (Notice he’s still not crying), his head was 14 in. around and he was 21 in. long.
Happy baby getting his hair washed with momma’s organic baby wash.
The nurse asked if I wanted her to put a diaper on or not, and if it was ok to wash the ink off his feet which I was fine with. She also asked if I wanted her to put a HUGS tag on him (the security system tag) since he wouldn’t be out of my sight. I told her I didn’t even know that was an option, and since it is in the way and pointless, let’s leave it off. I was impressed that not only was she following my birth plan, she was thinking of other things I might want or not want done and asking about it.
My happy, peaceful son after he was cleaned up.
I wanted her to leave him undressed so we can have a lot more skin to skin time. Since he was so big for his gestational age, she let me know they normally do blood sugar checks, but quickly offered to just throw that on my list of procedures I was refusing on the waiver form, and I went with that option. I said I’d watch for symptoms of low blood sugar (she informed me what they were) and we’d check him if that happened. He was eating like a champ though, and at no time needed the check.
Shortly after his bath we were taken to our post-partum room where we had a lot more nurses to meet, and all of them read our birth plan and were very respectful of it. I was almost totally pain free. I always heard that the after pains get worse with every baby, but this was by far the least pain I had experienced after birth. The cramping was almost worse than the labor after #2 and 3. I was taking 800 mg of Motrin every 8 hours for at least 2 weeks after all my babies, but I didn’t even feel like I needed anything after I had him. A couple times a day, for the first 3 days, I had 400 mg of Motrin just because I felt a little crampy and feared it would get worse. My bottom wasn’t sore at all (again, first time ever). I had no Pitocin at all (Pitocin is routinely given after all births) and I think this might have something to do with it.
All of Malachi’s checks were done in our room and he never left our sight. The only time he was poked was for his 24 hour test for the state (which I consented for), and he didn’t even cry for that even though he had to be poked twice because his blood clotted so fast (even though he had no vitamin K injection). He was very alert and breastfed every hour at least. I was pretty sore from that, but didn’t mind. I knew it would pass once he got his latch perfected and my milk came in. Once my milk came in we started having some latching issues, he still nursed at least every hour around the clock, and that lasted about two weeks, but didn’t stop me from breastfeeding. No formula was given; he perfected his latch by three weeks, and at one month of age weighed 11.11 lbs. and grew an inch in length!
My doctor stopped in to see me on the 16th, even though he was on vacation! I was enjoying relaxing at the hospital and having the nurses take care of us, so we decided to stay as long as we could (which was a first for me). He and I stayed practically naked the whole stay and he either nursed or lay on my chest the whole time. He was a mommy’s boy right from the start and would get very upset if I set him down. He just wanted to be with me, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I felt like I was dreaming; it just didn’t even feel real. Everything had gone so perfectly. We had no attitude or problems from any of the staff the whole time. Everyone followed our birth plan and respected us. I am so glad I made the choice to birth my baby at the hospital! Even though I didn’t have any problems with the delivery, I felt safe and secure, having my respectful, funny, talented surgeon in the room with me and all the medical equipment we would need in case of an emergency, but still had a calm, peaceful, 100% natural birth experience; and all this was covered by my insurance!
I feel different now. I feel stronger and more confident. I am very happy and peaceful. I like myself now and have a much higher self-esteem. When I think back to the labor and delivery, I don’t remember any of the pain (normally that doesn’t happen until at least a year after). I just remember all the joy, strength, excitement and satisfaction I felt. I am still amazed at what my body has done! It’s amazing to me how much of an impact a birth experience can have on a woman, and I thank God that I was able to have this experience!