Three weeks ago today I gave birth to my strong baby boy. Time has already flown and I've decided to document the happenings of that magical day as requested by friends/family, as well as for my own sake. So here we go:
My 40 week due date was Friday, March 11. I had had the feeling that my baby was to come a little bit early since I had been feeling symptoms of labor for a couple weeks already. And he was pressing so much on my pelvic region with each step I took. As usual, people kept calling or writing to see if I was giving birth yet or if anything was happening. Turns out, my little guy was just extremely punctual and wanted to come exactly on time! After just a couple hours of sleep, early that Friday morning around 1:30 am, I woke to use the toilet and discovered my mucous plug had started releasing. I began feeling surges and crampiness that existed at a regular pattern and so I laid there the rest of that early morning knowing that everything was beginning. I tried to sleep more but those waves of uterine contractions make that a little difficult. Somewhere between 5-6am, my water started releasing. It happened in a couple of gushes within those morning hours. I texted my sister (who has a toddler) and then we ended up talking it all out, which was of such help. Then I called my doula, who wanted me to start timing the surges before we did anything else. And so by 7 or so I woke my husband. I figured he should at least be rested somewhat! I was hungry so I ate some toast and drank some berry juice, but my anxiety about throwing up during labor prevented me from eating much of anything else.
By this point, it's not too hard to simply focus and breathe slowly through each surge. I talked with my mom a few times, alerted my best friends, and just kept going with it. We discovered the surges were only about 3 min. apart but they were less than 1 minute in length, which meant I was in the early stages of labor. By 10:30am or so, they were definitely 1 minute long, so my doula headed our way. I got in the shower to rinse and feel nice and then parked it by my bed with my birthing playlist on. Spent lots of time on my knees over the bed to breathe through each wave. Our doula arrived and helped us keep things light and positive. We eventually decided to try to get out for a walk. It was a gray day with misty rain (very Icelandic) and it felt like just the right kind of day for this baby to want to come out. In my old sweatshirt and sweatpants, uggs, glasses on, and hair in a messy ponytail, we ventured outside. We made it down the block and back which was a success since every couple of minutes I had to stop and hang on to my husband to concentrate and breathe through. Upon coming back in, I tried to eat some avocado on toast and drink more juice and water. We made a plan and decided we'd leave for the hospital in the 2:00 hour.
Getting in the car to leave was strange and hard because I knew that the simple walk from front door to car might take awhile due to the surges. Luckily the ride to Mt. Auburn Hospital is not very long from our house, but the bumps in the road were pretty unpleasant at this point. All in all, I was still in a pretty upbeat mood and just taking it one at a time. We arrived close to 3:00 and went straight up to the delivery floor. They took us to our room and we began to settle in. The nurses and the midwife on call were all very friendly and kind. I settled in so they could do the initial fetal monitoring. After 20 min. or so it came off and I was able to freely move around. My husband put on the ipod and I was soothed throughout the evening with all of my favorite mellow music (Jonsi & Alex, Krisha Das, Mum, Leona Naess, Sigur Ros, Amiina...). For someone with such a strong affinity to her music, this was huge and so important! I also began focusing on all of the things my dear friends who had done this before me had told me. So, I began to drink water between each surge diligently and I tuned into that place that I teach about in my yoga classes. If I didn't know where that place was, I might not have been able to last as long as I did. I am pretty certain of this.
Our doula had me sitting up in kind of like a butterfly pose. I also stood up leaning over the bed, slow danced with my husband, sat on the exercise ball, got in cat/cow on the bed, etc. Since my water had released and my surges were so close together, they did not do an internal exam. We all figured I would push this baby out by evening. Well, once evening came (say between 7-8 pm), things were more or less the same. The midwife on duty was switching and so were the nurses. Our new midwife suggested she do a pelvic internal exam so we can assess the situation better. If only we had done it earlier...
She discovered that his head was very far down but baby was turned on his side and my cervix was still behind the head and I was only about 3 1/2 cm dilated! Imagine the mental state this put me in. I had already worked so hard for so many hours with a positive attitude through the most intense physical feelings I had ever felt and so to hear I had a long way to go was devastating.
I saw glimpses of negativity in my mind and had moments of wanting to breakdown and sob or give up. But, who are we kidding...I am a strong, healthy, brilliant woman that couldn't wait to finally hold this baby! And even when it got harder than anything else I have ever experienced, I knew that staying focused and calm was the only way to make it through. Crying or causing stress in my body would only make it worse (thank you hypnobirthing and yoga for installing this in my brain).
So what did we do? The midwife was so awesome at this point. She just took control and was with me for the rest of the time. She knew I had to get on my side to try to turn my baby's head, so I got on my left side in bed for 30 min. then switched to the right side for 30 min. She would massage my low back for me and my husband was at my front so I could grab onto him when I needed. At this point I was beyond exhausted and quite delirious. I just remember that I kept saying, "Help me. Can you help me? Please?" Yet I knew full well that I was the only one who could help me. Haha. This hour was by far the hardest work I had to do yet. For some reason being in that position made the surges even more intense (maybe because it was working to get my baby to turn his head). After that hour, I decided I would take up the midwife's suggestion to move to the bathtub. She got the water nice and warm and we made our way to the tub. How lucky we were to have such a nice hospital with all the amenities and such supportive people around. Once in the tub, just when I thought the surges couldn't get any stronger...boy was I wrong. Now, this, was the hardest work yet! My husband poured water over my belly while I held on tight to the sides of the tub as each surge presented itself. By now I was definitely vocal with each exhale (not screaming by any means, but sort of releasing a moan/om/song) and going deep, deep within to make it all work. Wow, it was powerful. After at least a half hour in the tub, I suddenly felt the urge that my body wanted to push! What a crazy feeling! I said so, and the midwife sort of got in the tub to feel for the head. Sure enough, she thought I was ready, so we all helped me out of the tub and I made my way back to the bed. She did a quick internal exam and I was 9 1/2 cm dilated! Woohoo! It was around 10:45pm or so. I got in more cat/cow to finish the work of dilating. When it was time to start pushing, they got me back on my side, where I stayed for a good 20 min. or so with the initial onset of pushing.
This point of the labor was so surreal and beyond describing. All I can say is that your body certainly takes over and you cannot control it. It is ready to push and so you do! (And yes, it really does feel a lot like you have to take the biggest crap of your life...ha! Except, you're about to birth your greatest creation in life!) After that first part of pushing, the midwife told me I could switch positions to speed things up, so I was all about that. I got into a sort of laying down squat. The nurse had one foot and my husband had the other. This is where more of the hardest work came. Whoa. I haven't eaten for almost 24 hours or slept, I am sweating, a bit out of my head, and just want this all to be over and holding my baby! So, I pushed. Something divine and other than myself took over. I thought of all the other women who had done this before me. I thought of other things that took strength in life and nothing seemed to compare to this. I knew that I was completely capable. By 11:50, they were telling me the baby could be born that day or on the 12th. My body needed to take it's time by that point. I was pushing for about an hour then and I also didn't want to tear. There was no forcing anything. It was simply my baby and I working together now for the best possible moment.
At 12:22 am, on Saturday, March 12th, my boy emerged from my womb and his dad placed him right up on my belly. The three of us were in complete awe of it all. We got to spend a good amount of time like this and Isak latched to feed right away. He was born a big boy (they measured him at 9 lbs 2 oz, but there might have been some scale issues). Needless to say he's a healthy, hungry guy and was back up to 9 lbs 4 oz at 2 weeks! And I made it out with just 1 stitch and some soreness...go yoga!
There ya have it. Yes, I did it completely natural and for over 20 hours. It was well worth feeling every single surge. But that was how it was supposed to be for me. It may not be anything close to the next woman in that very room. The main thing is that I have joined motherhood now. And that it's all true how mothers feel. Instant worry for this creation of yours, instant emotional connection to all of life, instant love. Just when you think you know all that love is, more of it rushes in.