I figured I might as well write this post sooner rather than later since every mom tells me we get amnesia when it comes to giving birth. I'm sure that's probably at least partially true because if we had a vivid memory of the pain, none of us would have more than one child. Kidding...sorta.
Well before I dive into sharing my whole birth story, I want to preface by saying that I think ALL women are amazing and powerful, no matter how you chose to deliver and give birth. Whether you chose drugs or went with a natural birth, whether you gave birth at home or in a hospital, and whether your birth was vaginal or not... You are amazing! Giving birth (any which way) is no joke, nor is it easy, and you deserve a big pat on the back for being one tough cookie! I have ZERO judgments on women and how they gave birth, so when I talk about what I personally chose, please remember that.
Okay, where do I begin? I went into labor on Saturday morning at 1:00 am. I woke up out of a dead sleep in massive pain, which to be honest got me quite excited. At this point I was dying for this baby to come, I was 11 days past my due date and "over" being pregnant. I was supposed to have an appointment on Saturday morning at 7:00 am to chat about my options as far as getting induced (which I absolutely did not want), and Monday would have been the date where they highly suggest getting induced because of increased risk for the baby. The night before, I woke up at 1:00 am too (weird, huh?) and was in a ton of pain, having contractions but they were inconsistent and not easy to time. Those eventually stopped, I fell back asleep and didn't end up going into labor. So when I woke up Saturday with the same feelings, (at the same time) I was hoping that it was the real deal and not another false alarm. These contractions were different from the night before though, they were much easier to time. From 1-2 I labored by myself, letting Nick sleep. I took a shower and just tried to stay calm and get things ready in case it was real labor and we needed to head to the hospital. I am so grateful I showered right when I woke up because soon after (around 2:00 am) the contractions started getting really close together and the pain was becoming far worse. That's when I realized okay, this is it, I am actually in labor. I was so relieved that I went into labor naturally and didn't have to be induced. I was in labor at home for a few hours and the pain intensified pretty quickly. Soon I was unable to move or talk during the contractions. Around 4:00 am Nick called our midwife and they suggested coming in since my contractions were about 4 to 5 minutes apart and at my last checkup I was already 4 cm dilated. We packed up our stuff and headed to the hospital around 4:30.
When we got to the hospital they checked my platelet levels, those have been an issue for me. My blood platelet levels had been dropping throughout my whole pregnancy and eventually dropped below the level (100,000) where they say it's safe to have an epidural. That was fine with me since I wanted to do a natural delivery anyways, but it just had me worried about bleeding after delivery. They then let me know that my platelets were 104,000. The week prior my platelets were in the 80,000's! I cried, it was such a relief to know that I didn't need to stress about that part of delivery, God is so good and definitely answered that prayer.
When we first got to the hospital they also checked to see how dilated I was, per request (I was so curious). When they told me I was already at a 7 I was so dang excited! So in my head I'm like wow okay I'll be to a 10 in no time. Well,...from a 7 to a 10 was a bit of a different story, it took much longer than I thought it would. Still, my total labor time was only 9 hours so I'm not complaining, but let me just say that dilating from a 7 to a 10 was a whole new kind of pain than the pain I was having prior. Going through labor, especially that transitional labor, took more mental focus and toughness than I ever thought possible. I didn't want anyone to touch me, talk to me, or distract me while I was going through each contraction. I just felt like I had to keep 100% focus on pushing through the pain, keeping my mindset on "I can do this" "You were made to deliver this baby" "This pain will pass soon". If I let any negative thoughts enter my mind like "I can't do this, it's too painful", then I would just feel like I lost control and feel extremely scared and freaked out. I truly felt like it was such a mental game of keeping calm and staying in control mentally.
During two contractions I tried Nitrous Oxide, this was the only form of pain relief I was open to having. You might know Nitrous Oxide better by the name of "laughing gas" and possibly used it at the dentist. It doesn't take the pain away, but it takes your care of the pain away. After trying it, I quickly decided that I was not a fan of it. The first contraction that I used it on I sort of thought I liked it, but then after the second I started to feel very very loopy and I felt like I lost control a bit. I guess I am glad I tried it because I was freaking out a bit before having the Nitrous, I was starting to feel like I couldn't handle the pain anymore and that's why I called in the Nitrous. I was hoping to love it, but honestly it just made me feel too out of it. I suppose it did calm me down a bit though. In all honesty, I don't know, I have mixed opinions about it. After I decided I didn't like the Nitrous, the thought of an epidural crossed my mind. I am so glad that I didn't ask for one, although it crossed my mind I just tried to remind myself that it wasn't what I wanted and to stay strong. I totally understand how women ask for one though, it sounded very tempting. But I am so glad I did it natural and am just so grateful for the opportunity to have given birth naturally and without complications.
In many ways, giving birth naturally is a privilege. I have a few friends that would have loved to have a natural delivery but because of complications they were unable to, and the safer route for them and baby was to have some sort of medical intervention. So for me, I just thank God that I had a birth that went just as I hoped and prayed for, because that definitely isn't always the way it works out. You realize as you're going through it that birth is something you don't have much control over. Your body will do what it's gonna do to an extent and sometimes it's not what you would prefer. So, I feel very blessed by my birth experience and that I was able to go natural.
I was stuck at 8.5 cm dilated for quite some time. At this point I was sitting in the "throne" position in the hospital bed. Which by the way, those are some fancy high tech things these days, those beds can move into so many positions, I was quite impressed. The midwife suggested that I switch positions to help get things moving along. She suggested getting on my knees and facing the back of the bed in sort of an upright position. It did not sound comfortable but I thought "what the heck, if it will help this process speed up then I am willing to try it." I kept having the urge to push, but since I wasn't dilated enough they were discouraging me from doing so. Once I switched to that position she was suggesting it was go time. I could not help it and I had to push. She said I pushed him past the 8.5 and it opened me up to 10 cm dilated (which sounded weird and I didn't know that was a thing). I continued to push and finally delivered in this position. I NEVER would have thought that was how I was gonna deliver my baby, the position sounds so strange, but it felt so natural and felt way more comfortable than sitting. Total I pushed for 38 minutes, which felt like an eternity, but apparently the midwives said is pretty quick for your first baby. At 10:02am on Saturday June 17th, our sweet baby boy was born.
I didn't get to see Giulian come out since I was facing the other direction, but I saw something that I will never forget. I got to watch my husband's face as our son was born, and let me tell you that was one of my favorite experiences of my life. He was crying and just had so much love and joy in his eyes. You could tell he was instantly in awe of our son. It just absolutely melted my heart and I'll never forget it. When the midwife passed Giulian to me through my legs, the first thing I said was "Ahhhh he's so cute!". And those truly were my first thoughts. I was so excited to see what he looked like, I'd been wondering for 10 months. So to finally see him was amazing and I just couldn't help but think he was the cutest thing I'd ever seen.
Some random details about the birth- one, I tore. Yay lol every woman's dream (sarcasm). It was a second degree tear, whatever that means... but ouch that was a bummer. Another detail is that we did delayed cord clamping, which just means you wait to cut the umbilical cord until the blood has finished transferring from the placenta to the baby. There are some great health benefits for baby by doing this. In fact, our hospital does this with every birth because they find it so important. The last random fact I thought I'd share is that they gave me a bit of Pitocin after delivery to help stop the bleeding (which it did and was fine).
I couldn't rave enough about the midwives at West Side Women's Care and Lutheran Hospital. I felt so supported and encouraged by them the entire delivery process. They were so helpful and respectful, I feel so blessed to have had them by my side during the most difficult thing I've ever done in my entire life. Giving birth is no joke and I think it made a huge difference having women there who were so nurturing and like I already said, so supportive. They were amazing coaches through the whole process which was nice because it took that pressure off of Nick and he was just able to be loving and supportive in the exact way I needed him to be. I know some people have bad things to say about hospital births, but I truly think if that person knew truly what my experience was, they would feel differently. I wish every hospital was this amazing, I know that's probably not the case, but hopefully one day they will all be as amazing as Lutheran. Those women there are such angels.
I'm currently cuddling my big 6 week old baby! He's growing so fast and our love for him gets stronger and stronger every day. Thank you Lord for this healthy happy baby!