The Story Part 4: My Unmedicated Labors
So, why did I choose the unmedicated birth route after having such a great labor with an epidural? Long story short I tore 4th degree when I delivered Bethany. It was one of the harder recoveries I have ever gone through. When I got pregnant with our second, I did some research and learned that I could prevent tearing as badly if I pushed on my knees to relieve some of the perineal pressure. That meant no epidural. I was horrified but also pretty motivated. I figured I could put up with a few hours of pain to avoid the weeks of discomfort I endured after my first delivery.
I knew this time around I wouldn’t be able to just play unmedicated birth “by ear”. I needed to be committed. I needed to prepare. I knew I could never be totally ready, but it was important to me to be as informed as possible. I hired a doula. I made a labor playlist that I would listen to in my car. I read books (my favorite one was Ina May's Guide to Childbirth). I watched The Business of Being Born (the Special Deliveries one was amazing) two or three times. I mentioned this in my last post, but, in my opinion, being informed brings such great empowerment! I was more confident going into labor. I even learned that you didn’t have to wear the hospital gown they gave you. I chose one of my husbands tank tops and a skirt- see below.
I think it also helped that I had actually pushed a baby out before. I knew my body could do it. The first time around I wasn’t so sure. My mom had ended up having all c-sections, so going into my first labor I was nervous the same thing would happen to me. All of that to say, I put a lot more time and effort to get ready for labor, which I would recommend to anyone wanting to have an unmedicated birth.
Now for the actual labor and delivery part. As was probably expected, at no point did I ever say “This is so much fun!” during my labors with the boys. It was hard. I am honestly kind of at a loss of even how to explain it. Because I think it is easy to look at someone and say, “You forget everything the minute they lay your baby on you!” It’s true. You do. But that isn’t really helpful while you are anticipating labor. Here is a quick recap of how each one went down.
Monty was due on June 28. Due date came and went, and still no baby. The night of June 30 I decided to pump to see if I could get contractions going. Nothing too exciting. But that night I woke up around 3:30 am with regular contractions. We lived a little bit away from the hospital where I as delivering, so we decided to leave the house early so that we wouldn’t get stuck in rush hour traffic (thank you Dallas). We met our doula and my sister (Becca), and walked around a park for a couple of hours.
My midwife officed in the hospital, so we went in so she could check me. I was already a 6! I couldn’t believe it. She told us to go ahead and check into the hospital. She decided to break my water shortly after that, and that is when things really picked up. I was hurting! My doula suggested that I try sitting backwards on the toilet. That definitely annoyed me. I was already uncomfortable enough. I didn’t want to sit backwards in the tiny hospital bathroom with horrible fluorescent lighting. But I went with the expert and tried. I honestly can’t remember how long I even sat there. I just remember each contraction being so intense. I couldn’t stay sitting down. My husband supported me from behind, but then I would scream at him because he was breathing on my face. All of the sudden, I got this incredible, uncontrollable urge to push. My doula encouraged me to move to the bed. I stood up and almost immediately fell on my knees. A really strong contraction hit. I threw up. Everyone was telling me I needed to get on the bed, but I could not move. My doula grabbed my face and said something encouraging, but honestly, I can’t remember. Then out of nowhere, my husband came up beside me, picked me up off of my knees in one fell swoop, and brought me to the bed. I can’t explain it, but I felt so loved and protected in that moment. It was incredibly bonding, and while it was one of the hardest moments of labor, it was also one of the most amazing. Now that I was on the bed, I knew I wanted to push on my knees so that I could avoid tearing again. I pushed a couple of times, but could tell pretty quickly that something was wrong. I heard my midwife ask the nurses to call a doctor, then she looked at me and told me I needed to flip over on my back immediately. I don’t know what came over me. I mean, a few minutes before, I couldn’t even pick myself up off the bathroom floor. But the sense of urgency in her voice awakened the mama bear in me, and I flipped over unassisted as fast as I could. A few second later, Monty came out! They laid him on my chest, and, just like they say, I immediately forgot all the pain. Seconds after that, the doctors came rushing in. Apparently, Monty had gotten stuck (he had shoulder dystocia, which Becca has told me was VERY traumatizing to watch), but my midwife’s quick thinking had gotten him unstuck pretty quickly. He was 9 lbs 12 oz. And guess what- I only tore 2nd degree! It might sound bad, but I literally felt like I could have run a marathon compared to how I felt after having Bethany. But poor guy you can see how he was bruised from his grand entry...
Jacob was a little different because I ended up having to be induced, so I was in the hospital the entire time I was in labor. But since this was round three, I had even more confidence than I did with Monty. I didn’t have a doula this time, but instead invited a couple of really close girlfriends to be in the room to support me, and so that Robert could be with me the entire time. I progressed a lot slower initially, and after laboring for a few hours I was only at a 4. I was pretty discouraged, so my OB recommended breaking my water. I really didn’t want to, but I also didn’t want to be in labor longer than I needed to be. She was confident that breaking my water would speed things up. She was right. The contractions got a lot more intense, but I went from a 4 to an 8 in just over an hour. At this point I was sort of out of my mind. I threw up again, apparently, but I actually don’t even remember that happening. All I remember is laying on my side on the bed, looking over, seeing my OB getting ready to deliver my baby and saying, “Oh good! You’re here!” My OB opened my cervix from an 8 to a 10. I didn’t even know that was a thing. It definitely didn’t feel great, but at that point I was just ready to get the baby out! She told me I could push whenever I wanted to, but this time was pretty much the opposite of Monty. Not only did I not have an urge to push, but I didn’t even feel like I could. It was the weirdest thing. I wasn’t sure what to do. Luckily, a couple of contractions later, I felt like I finally could feel how I needed to push.
And Jacob was out a few minutes later! They laid him on my chest, and again, I immediately forgot all the pain and discomfort.
Nothing else really seems to matter when you’re holding your baby for the first time. Our bodies can do some incredible things. Again, with Jacob, I tore 2nd degree. A walk in the park compared to what I had gone through with Bethany. But I also realized that, for me, there were way more benefits that came with having unmedicated childbirth than just not tearing. Both of my labors were incredibly bonding for Robert and me. He helped me through something that was really hard. I mean, if we can get through bringing a new life into the world together, we can get through anything, right?! I also gained a new confidence in myself. Never in a million years did I think I would be able to choose something painful or hard. But I did, and I made it out ok! It made me realize that I can do hard things, and that just because something might be scary or hard, that doesn’t make it bad. I grew a lot.
And just for the record, I do not look back on my labor with Bethany and regret that I had an epidural. I love each one of my birth stories, and am so grateful that I had three, healthy babies that I was able to deliver!
I never really planned on sharing my birth stories on a social platform, but I hope this is helpful to any of you Mamas out there who are wrestling with the same questions I did.