I’d wanted to be a mom for what felt like an eternity and on August 31st, 2018 at 12:47 in the morning, I became one after 19 hours of labor. This is our all-natural, unmedicated hospital birth story of my sweet Hadley Jane.
Overall I had a fantastic pregnancy. I was hardly sick at all, I gained about 28 pounds and aside from some fairly severe hip pain in the first trimester, I felt great. My hips were probably thinking, “oh I thought we weren’t doing this, ok we’ll start moving” as I was 35. The tiredness would hit me hard in the evenings and as my belly grew, I had to slow down and that wasn’t the easiest for me. I move fast, I’m always busy, I enjoy working and being on the go. Sitting on the couch is not my thing. I learned that it’s best to listen to your body because pushing yourself isn’t good for you or the baby. My goal all along was to have an all-natural, unmedicated birth, while I mentally prepared myself for other options but that was my plan. Above all, my goal was for us both to be safe.
The weeks leading up to Hadley’s arrival had been nothing short of stressful. It was August and we were having a heatwave to start, we have air conditioning in the bedrooms but not the rest of the house and being that pregnant with the heat was not enjoyable. I planned myself an over the top baby shower that was to be published on Martha Stewart’s website, she even paid for a photographer, so ya know, no pressure or anything. It was absolutely lovely but I felt like I didn’t really enjoy it because it was technically work, but I really can’t complain.
I was terrified about delivery, terrified of the pain, the recovery, and the potential of losing her or my own life during the process. I wanted her so badly that I almost wouldn’t let myself get excited at all, I kept telling myself that anything could happen and that when she’s in my arms I’ll be excited. So the majority of my pregnancy I was just scared to lose her. I was also scared about work, how was I going to work? Who would watch her? Would my feelings about my work change after I had her? Would I want to work or stay at home 100%? Up until this point, my work was my baby. Every spare moment was devoted to blog posts, and plans, and the next crafts. This fear of the unknown would keep me up at night.
Three weeks before her birth I had been experiencing Braxton Hicks contractions, sometimes every 20 minutes for a few hours. So I put myself on a bed rest of sorts and tried my absolute hardest not to do anything, which again was not easy for me. I have a stepdaughter, Ava, who was almost 3 at the time and is with us 4 nights a week, so between laundry, dishes, meals, and all the fun in between, there is lots to do and lots I wanted to do before the new baby came, and I couldn’t. After taking it easy for about two weeks, I was feeling better, my contractions had reduced and by short relaxing spurts combined with water and cool air, I could really feel nice. One day I came home from work and was sharing with Dean that I was now three weeks ahead of schedule at work and if I keep having calm productive days I should be doing well, work-wise, for her arrival. Little did I know she was coming that next day.
Nothing was ready except the snack bag I had just assembled for the nursing staff. I wasn’t ready mentally, my hospital bag wasn’t packed, the laundry wasn’t done, I hadn’t taken a shower, my office was a mess, and the list goes on. It was two weeks and two days before her due date and I was going to sleep like any other night….
5:25am: I woke up because I had to pee and noticed that my pajama pants were wet. Weird. I didn’t pee my pants did I? No way. I go to the bathroom and yes, my pants are wet but it doesn’t smell like pee, in fact, it smells like nothing at all. No odor, but it’s clearly wet. Did my water bottle fall on me? No, it’s on my nightstand. Hmmm… do I wake him up? Yes, just in case. So I go to tell Dean, “hey, um, I don’t know but my water might have just broken”, knowing in the back of my mind that is super rare but he’s so level headed and always knows what to do, so I wait for his half-asleep response. He smells my pants, hahaha, so funny right. Yep, definitely not pee. He says, “let’s just go to the hospital and see what they say. It’s no big deal, grab some stuff, let’s go.” But we have Ava. “Should I go alone?” He says “no, we’ll wake her up, it’s ok let’s go.” So as I’m standing at my dresser, grabbing quickly stuffing clothes into a bag in the dark, just like in the movies what feels like a flood of water gushes out of me. It was probably only like 1/8 cup but it felt like a waterfall. Now I knew it was my water and I was going to have a baby. OMG.
6:15am: I walk into the maternity area of the hospital and wait patiently for them to prepare an “admitting room” for me. We have sleepy Ava with us and they won’t let her in the room, no kids, so annoying. So I was in there for more than an hour by myself while they did all the initial tests and such. Soon Dean’s mom arrived so that she could be with Ava while we figured things out. Turns out my water did break and yes, they are going to admit me for labor. At this point, my contractions are about 7 minutes apart and not strong at all, just an overall belly tightness. I have to say, I had a terrible experience with Kaiser, absolutely terrible. The very first Dr that saw me tried to give me a talking to about skipping my last prenatal appointment, unbeknownst to him it was literally scheduled for the next day, seeing as we were two weeks and two days early. He also tried to make me take Pitocin (the labor-inducing drug) right away, he actually ordered it without my consent. I learned from the nurses that I had 18 hours until it was necessary to get her out and I really wanted to let my body do its thing, no drugs. This hour was full of dumb questions and annoying protocol, they had my address wrong, they had it down that this was my third child, I mean, were they reading someone else chart? They took a full inventory of my bag, took lots of blood, put in an IV that took forever, it felt like it would never end.
7:30am-ish: After the ridiculous rigamarole of being checked into the hospital, they finally get me into a labor and delivery room. At this point, I’m alone as Dean is out with his mom and Ava and a nurse comes in and tries to put Pitocin in my IV without even asking. I am furious. I did not consent to that drug and there is NO reason I should be taking it this early on. Thank God the next Dr on shift was just arriving and she had my back 100%. She refused the drug and insisted that we were going to do things how I wanted to do them, naturally. She was an army veteran and was fantastic, the problem is her shift came and went and I was still there.
8:15am-ish: I’m able to leave the room and walk out to see Dean, his mom, and Ava. We’re chatting and playing a bit and then it’s time for Ava to go. Our typical morning for exchanging care with her mom is Thursday morning (which it was) and so it made the most sense to have Grammy take her to her normal daycare so that Dean could stay with me. It all worked out perfectly because she had been wanting to come to the Dr with me but hadn’t had a chance. We’d been reading books about baby siblings and being a big sister and they have pages about the “mom” being at the Dr so she had mentioned it a few times. She got to see me at the Dr and gave me the sweetest hug and kiss before she left.
9:00am-ish: They let me order food as it was going to be a while and thank God they did because I was starving. Eggs, bacon, hash browns and OJ it was. Yummy! At this point I feel great, eating, laughing, enjoying myself. We walked around the hospital a bit and even heard another baby being born. All while the nurses kept offering me all the drugs, knowing I didn’t want any. “Are you sure?” they kept asking “Nows the time”, “It gets harder”… it felt like they were pushing me into it, someone with less strength might have given in.
1:00pm-ish: Time went fast yet slow. I was progressing slowly and there wasn’t much to do except wait and hope that they weren’t going to have to induce me. It was right around this time that shit got real and the contractions started to kick in. At first breathing through it was easy… and then it wasn’t. Also around this time the most awesome nurse came on shift and changed my entire experience. Her name was Val and she LOVES un-medicated all-natural births, I guess some nurses don’t! It’s at this point that I wish we had packed some snacks and my favorite soda water. We’d now been in the room for 6-7 hours and it had become apparent how many people enter and exit the room. One nurse told us it could be as many as 17 in one day, between Dr’s and nurses coming on and off shift, people emptying the trash, asking if you want photos taken, other nurses looking for equipment. I mean, the list goes on and it’s insane. So much disturbance. In between another contraction I even got a phone call to my bedside from the hospital front desk asking if I’d like to give them my credit card number over the phone, right then, for my discharge amount. WHAT. Are you f-ing kidding? You are asking me for money while I am in labor, no. Such a bad experience.
4:00pm-ish: The contractions are getting closer together and more intense. We’d just keep watching the monitor to see when the next one was arriving and prepare for it. Through the worst, I relied on my breath. Deep, deep breathing. I kept thinking every contraction is bringing me closer to Hadley. Val and Dean encouraged me the entire time to keep going, keep breathing, and to stay focused. If it wasn’t for the two of them I don’t think I could have done it without medication. They were both such amazing cheerleaders. It was during this time that I had horrible heartburn set in. Maybe from my breakfast or just the experience in general, I’m not sure. But ugh, it was terrible. And you’d think that Kaiser would have Tums or the like, nope. Just some terrible drink that tasted like Mountain Dew which made it all worse. I think around 6:00pm yet again a new Dr came in, while I was in mid-contraction, announcing her arrival like she was the Queen and asking me too many questions while I’m clearly breathing through things. She was incredibly rude, she also asked why I had skipped my last prenatal appointment, which again I didn’t it was scheduled for the next day, and was so offensive about it. The entrance and the time was all about her, not me, not us, not Hadley or what I was in the middle of, nor what came before and what my preferences were.
8:00pm-ish: It was all just the same thing over and over. I would get up, change positions, breath through the contraction, and do it all over again. That was a great thing about not getting an epidural. They let me drink my own liquids and get up and move about. It was at this time that things really started to get hard. I was exhausted. My lips were terribly chapped from the hard breathing and my throat was starting to hurt from the breathing as well. The only encouragement was that things were finally really progressing. I wasn’t going to have to get the Pitocin, YAY, we were just waiting through the contractions. Around this time I learned that my fabulous nurse was getting moved and that she wouldn’t be with me through the delivery and I was heartbroken. Then in between a contraction Dean gave us a good solid laugh, he looks at me dead f-ing serious and says, “ugh my back hurts”. Seriously. Your back hurts. I said very sarcastically, “oh does it, I’m sorry”. And looked over at the nurse and rolled my eyes. Men are ridiculous. To this day when he’s being a baby, I just repeat that line real whiny like. Hahahaha.
11:00pm-ish: Right before Val left in between a contraction, I was on the bed on all fours and I threw up everywhere. I mean everywhere. And let me tell you, she and another nurse cleaned me up so fast it was almost as if it didn’t happen, very impressive. They reassured me that as you get closer to being ready to push, some women throw up. I had NO idea what all your body really has to go through to get the baby out. It’s amazing and traumatic all at the same time. I just keep thinking, what is the baby thinking, what is she feeling, is it scary? I mean I was up, down, all over. I couldn’t imagine what it all felt like to her. I was absolutely exhausted and I didn’t know if I could keep going. I forgot to grab lip balm but we did have fractionated coconut oil with us so in between every contraction I put that on my lips because I was dying. The hard breathing dries them out so DO NOT forget your lip balm. Now my contractions are like 1 1/2 minutes apart and they last for 35ish seconds. We’re getting so close. The best thing that Val told me is that when it’s time to push, I’ll feel like I have to poop as I have never had to poop in my entire life…. and boy was she right.
August 31st, 2018 – 12:30am: It’s time and the Dr is nowhere to be found. Well guess what Doc, I’m pushing whether you are here or not bitch, and that’s what I did. This entire time the contraction pain was so intense that I was terrified of what it was going to feel like as she was actually coming out, but guess what – when you finally get to push the pain goes away! You have to wait for a contraction to push, which I didn’t realize. That’s how you know it’s time to push, you push with the contraction and it feels fantastic. I think I only pushed through maybe 8-10 contractions before her head came out. A few seconds later the witch Dr runs in. The cord was loosely wrapped around Hadley’s neck and they had to cut it before I could push the rest of her out. Feeling her come out was amazing and it didn’t hurt even though I got a 4-degree tear. Everyone is bustling around me, they ask Dean to cut the cord, but it was under pressure and blood squirts everywhere, it was disgusting. All over me and on his face, like a loose water hose. Then they said I could push again, I did once and she was out and on my chest! It was insane. This little creature was inside of me and now she wasn’t. She was real. And I was in virtually no pain. I didn’t feel euphoric as some women describe but I felt ok compared to how I felt 30 minutes prior. They take Hadley off to the other side of the room to weigh her and clean her up and do all those things, while the witch Dr starts to put me back together. First, she makes me push one more time and pulls out my placenta, which didn’t hurt. She sticks her hand inside it and is telling us how it’s given life to our baby for 9 months and doesn’t it look like the fattest juiciest steak, WTF. Is this normal? What a freak. It takes her 45 minutes to stitch me up and the entire time she makes me hold my legs up on these high stirrups, which I literally couldn’t after what I had just been through. I beg another nurse to help and she refuses. I am shaking, she tells me to relax. What? I am shaking involuntarily because you are making me hold my tired-ass legs above my head. I should have kicked her face. I realized later that she could have added the leg holders to the setup, but she didn’t because she’s awful. The entire stitching she is making me hold my head up to look at her and agree to the advice she is giving me through my bloody legs. I am so out of it that I am complying. The stitching doesn’t hurt as they gave me a local but I am dying for the experience to be over. Someone wiped me down with wet wipes a bit and helped me change hospital gowns and the rest is a blur.
3:00am: Everyone finally leaves. Unfortunately, they don’t have an open recovery room for us, not sure how that happens, so we had to sleep in the labor room, which isn’t comfortable. My tail bone was killing me on that terrible bed, but I’m holding my sweet baby girl so I’m managing. A nurse helps us get situated for the night and explains I need to breastfeed her when she cries and to let her sleep in the bassinet next to me. Not a chance, I am not going to put her down, LOL. So we kind of sleep, people keep coming in the room to wake us up and check on us, it was terrible. It felt like every time we fell asleep someone woke us up. They made us leave lights on to sleep, one nurse even said very rudely, “don’t you want to see your baby?” yes, bitch I do, but I also want to sleep. It wasn’t about us, it was about them being able to come into the room to do whatever the hell they felt they needed to do to us, and they wanted to be able to see.
4:30am: The first pee. OOMMGG. The nurse warned me that it would hurt and holy f-ing shit balls did it. Think of peeing on a fresh wound, that is what you are doing. While I peed she squirted me with warm water which helped but I actually had to ball up my hospital robe and bite it because it hurt so bad. Getting up to get to the bathroom and getting back onto the bed was not fun either. The exhaustion was next level.
6:30am: They move us into a recovery room and the bed is SO much more comfortable. We continue to be interrupted at least every 1.5 hours with visitor after visitor. From a social worker to a photographer, and from a janitor to a birth certificate person, and more nurses. I got no sleep. No sleep. And I felt like my entire body had been hit by a truck. Every single muscle was sore. Like I ran a marathon or something. My throat was the worst and I could barely talk without a throat lozenge. The nurses were making me pee, and do this and that and the other, and all I wanted was peace and quiet with my baby. The hospital was so annoying that we didn’t invite anyone to visit us and hardly took any pictures, we were bombarded by workers our entire stay. The interruptions were so intrusive that Dean had to throw a fit with the nurses to get a sign put on the door that said no entry.
September 1st, 2018 – 1:00pm: We finally get to leave. I was never happier and more terrified to be home. Scared because now I have this new baby and life is 100% different than it was 48 hours ago and happier than ever to start that new life. Such a weird juxtaposition. Since we left so suddenly, as I said the house wasn’t clean or anything of the sort, so Dean’s sweet mom cleaned the entire house while we were gone. Did all the laundry, made the beds, even got some fresh fruit for us from the store. As soon as I got home all I wanted to do was take a shower as I didn’t have the strength to do so while in the hospital. In the shower, all I wanted to do was get back to that sweet face.
All in all, I’m so very grateful that it was possible for us to have an all-natural, unmedicated birth as many others don’t have a choice. As I type this I am 6 months pregnant and I’m planning on the same for this delivery. This time around I’m no longer afraid of the pain. My body was designed to do what it’s doing and it’s amazing. I cannot wait to meet my son and I know that each contraction will bring me closer to him. My top three tips to those who are preparing for a natural birth would be…
Remember that your body is designed to do what it’s doing and the pain and all the feelings are there for a reason. If you get something to numb the pain, it also numbs the other feelings. I had such a successful and short time pushing because I knew, from the poo feeling, when my body was ready to push. Causing less stress on me and the baby. I will never forget the feeling of her moving through my hips, it didn’t hurt, it felt amazing, especially because I knew I was about to finally see her!
If it’s possible, write a note to yourself and/or a motivational quote of some kind on the whiteboard in the room. Like, “I was made for this”, or “every contraction brings us closer”… along with “no drugs necessary” or something similar. This will help remind yourself, and the staff that you are doing it the natural way. Be persistent and don’t let them pressure you into anything. The circumstance, the commotion, and the unknown can easily make you think that you need to take whatever they are offering and unless you medically need to, don’t. If they keep pushing as they did for me, just point at your board.
Concentrate on your breath. Deep, rhythmic yoga breathing got me through each contraction. There were a few times I lost focus and the pain would really set in. Don’t let it. You can only take maybe 10 deep full breaths through each contraction so count them if you need to. Some people recommend massage or nice touches from your partner but I did not feel like being touched at all, so I skipped that part, LOL. He would just cheer me through each contraction reminding me to breathe and sharing at what point the contraction was at if I couldn’t see the screen.
Unfortunately, I’m still with Kaiser but hoping to have a different experience with a different hospital location. I’m also hoping it will be a bit better since I’ll be more experienced. We’ll see and I’ll be happy to report back in a few months. Best of luck to all those about to give birth, you got this mama, and you need nothing but love and support from those around you to do it.