As you may have figured out by now, Cola Town Mr. & I have three kids. Their ages are 10 years old, 8 years old, and 6 months. I know….there’s a big gap between the 8 year old and the baby. She is our “surprise” baby, and we are so thrilled to be a party of 5 now!
There is a ton of information out there about child birth, and sometimes deciphering it all can be tricky. I would like to take this opportunity to share my birth stories. My goal is not necessarily to influence my readers one way or the other, but just to give an honest account of my experiences.
Carmen is our oldest daughter. Other than extreme weight gain (this happened with all 3 due to Hashimoto’s thyroiditis), my pregnancy with her was fine and without issue. I researched and decided to do the Bradley Method of childbirth. Natural, unmedicated birth. At the time Cola Town Mr. was working a lot, so my Mom went with me to the classes. This was fine by me because she is much calmer than my husband. The Bradley Method teaches you how to focus through contractions, the signs of transitioning during the different phases of labor, and coaches you to follow through with the unmedicated birth. My labor with Carmen was the scariest because it was my first pregnancy and I had no idea what to expect. Did it hurt? Hell yes. My active labor with Carmen lasted a total of 36 hours, and finally at the 28th hour I decided for the epidural. I could kick myself now for doing that, because another hour and I would have been pushing. The epidural slowed down labor, and did nothing to ease the pain for me. I have an extremely high tolerance for pain, but an equal tolerance to drugs apparently. I felt everything. Since I had the epidural and all of the machines hooked up to me, I was unable to move freely. All I wanted to do was squat, rock, and get on all fours. Confined on my back in the hospital bed, I pushed for about an hour until I heard her glorious announcement that she was officially here. Although I declined an episiotomy, I tore a tiny bit and required 1 stitch. After Carmen was born, we were up and out of there in 2 days.
When my due date approached with my son Gabriel in 2009, I listened to my Obstetrician and believed her when she told me that I waited too long for meds with Carmen’s delivery which is why I felt everything. With that in mind and not looking forward to the pain I experienced the first time, I accepted an induction and multiple epidurals during this labor. After laboring for 16 hours and pushing for 1 hour, our son was born. I declined an episiotomy this time as well, and didn’t need even one stitch. That was the least of my worries though. Gabriel suffered from meconium aspiration and jaundice, and stayed in the NICU for a little under two weeks. This was the scariest experience of my life. I kept trying to get straight answers from the hospital staff to no avail. The joy I should have been experiencing with my newborn was replaced with sheer terror. I was so worried about his health. After the fact, I researched and found multiple stories associating negative side effects for babies with Pitocin and epidurals. When I became pregnant last spring with our surprise baby, I knew immediately I wanted to do it my way and chose a unmedicated, totally natural home birth.
I found an amazing midwife in Columbia who was awesome. She gave me choices during my pregnancy about certain tests, and information about which are necessary and/or required. We were able to tell the baby’s gender and that she is free of any chromosomal disorders, etc by genetic testing via maternal blood analysis. At each appointment, especially once I got closer to my due date, I expected her to do a vaginal check. She never did. She gave me a list of items to purchase for the home birth. These items were extra bed sheets, latex gloves, organic oil, and other things that would possibly be needed during labor. I also picked up a prescription for Rhogam (RH-) and pitocin (to be used post delivery if I experienced extreme bleeding).
On a Tuesday when I was 38 weeks, I started to feel serious Braxton Hicks contractions. They weren’t full on active labor contractions, but enough to know my body was getting ready for baby’s debut. I called my midwife, and she came by the house to check my cervix for dialation. This was the first time she ever was “invasive”, and still asked permission nonetheless. Obviously I agreed. I was about 3cm dilated, so she told me to take it easy and keep her posted. Carmen stayed up with me most of the night through the contractions, and when daytime came we slept. I knew from previous experience to sleep whenever I could. I woke up and had my husband pick up dinner. I went back to bed to relax and watch a movie. I started having contractions again around 11pm, this time more aggressive than the night before. This night Gabriel stayed up with me, right by my side. He was rubbing my back and asking if I was ok. About 11:30 I told my husband to call the midwife. I knew it was time. This was it.
She arrived within thirty minutes, and her doula arrived shortly after. They set everything up like professionals, in a very short amount of time. All I had to do was take care of me. The freedom of having complete control of my birth experience is something I’ll never forget. I was able to move freely around the house, although I didn’t leave the master suite. If I’d have known that, I would have cleaned the bathroom better! I had visions of laboring in the kids bathroom, which is much nicer than ours and recently updated. I never went down the hallway. If I had been hungry, I would have been able to eat. I was thirsty and was able to drink as much water and Powerade as I wanted. I must say, it was refreshing to actually drink and not have nurses telling me I could only have damn ice chips!
I prepared my children as much as I could about child labor. My husband and I both agreed to allow them to engage as much as they wanted. My daughter went to sleep at some point but my son stayed by my side until it got too intense for him. At that point, he went to his room and waited. My mother was there also to help with the older kids and to make sure they were ok.
From the onset of contractions late Wednesday night to the time it took to transition into the pushing phase was 7 hours. I was standing in the bathroom, rocking back and forth because it helped with the back labor, when all of a sudden that urge to push was strong! I told my midwife but when she checked me I was only at 8 cm. She told me to hold off on pushing if possible. It wasn’t possible at all. My baby girl was ready to make her debut. I started on my back on the bed, but that hurt and wasn’t helping anything. I got off of the bed and was most comfortable in a deep squat, which is exactly how I delivered. After 20 minutes of pushing in an upright, vertical squatting position by our bed in our room, Ruby Evangeline arrived.
Carmen came out of her room just in time to see Ruby’s head coming out, and Gabriel came out of his room just as Ruby was being placed on my chest as we waited for the umbilical cord to stop pulsing. This was a wonderful experience for our older children to witness. If either of them ever become parents, they’ll be prepared. Carmen will have confidence in her body and know that it is fully capable of doing what needs to be done. Gabriel will know that about his wife as well, and respect her greatly because of this understanding. Again, we allowed them to be involved as much as they were comfortable. No pressure whatsoever.
Shortly after Ruby’s arrival, my midwife suggested I take a shower. As she did the intital newborn APGAR test with my Mom and kids in the room, my husband escorted me to the shower (the nicer one down the hall). I stood there and let the water run over me, feeling so accomplished and strong. I did it.
After I was clean and dressed (with the help of my midwife and husband), I made my way back to the bedroom. I found clean linens on the bed, and baby was ready for me to snuggle with her. I was able to fully process everything that just happened. My newborn in my arms, with my two older “babies” all in the bed snuggling. It is, and will always be, one of the greatest moments of my life.
The idea of a homebirth may not resonate with everyone, but it worked out phenomenally for us. We don’t plan to, but if we were to have another child we would do it via homebirth. My suggestion to any expecting mama or anyone interested is to watch a documentary called The Business of Being Born. It’s an eye opener, and led me down a path I will never regret.
Ruby now at 6 months ❤️