Birth was always the part of pregnancy that I was absolutely terrified of. I had seen many people go through truly scary labors that ended in emergency cesarean births and I was aware of how serious giving birth could be! When I got pregnant myself I was automatically terrified of how the baby was going to get out. I was fearful of an emergency situation but I truly desired a drug free, natural childbirth. Because of my fear and also having a desire to know how my body would handle labor, I decided to stick to delivering at a hospital.
My pregnancy with my first son was HARD. I promise I am not being dramatic in saying that. I realize how hard it was even more now after going through 22 weeks of my second pregnancy and it being so easy in comparison. My first pregnancy, I was initially pregnant with twins and ended up loosing one of the babies, which caused bleeding for half of my pregnancy, along with TONS of googling and fear that I would loose both babies! I was also SO sick and was hospitalized twice because of the severe morning sickness. Thankfully, I stopped throwing up around 28 weeks, but I still had all the other symptoms. From carpal tunnel, insomnia and acid reflux to my whole body severely itching and painful varicose veins. And let me say I was SO grateful for my pregnancy so I hate to sound like I am complaining, but the pregnancy was hard. It was actually so hard that I looked forward to labor, even in my fear, because I was so excited to “get my body back” (haha!).
For the weeks leading up to full term I spent almost all of my time working through my fears around labor. Through a lot of research, I found out that fear, un-forgiveness and bitterness could actually have an effect on your baby and the birth itself! I spent hours listening to CD’s about how our bodies are made to give birth, I listened to birth affirmations, I read all the positive birth stories and I spoke positivity over myself all day long! I prayed every time I felt fear and reminded myself how strong and capable my body was. I read the Bible and forgave anyone that came to mind that I held bitterness against. I made it my full time job to prepare myself mentally for labor.
My due date was ironically December 25th and that day came and went. But on December 28th, I woke up and had a feeling that this was the day. I was awoken around 4am to very light cramps that felt like period discomfort. But it was uncomfortable enough that I couldn’t sleep. I decided to take a shower just in case and see if they stopped. The cramps kept on for hours consistently, but they weren’t strong enough for me to feel like I needed to go to the hospital. I had my 40 week appointment that afternoon so I knew I just needed to wait until then and see what the doctor thought after my exam. Through the day I just kept up with the cramping, tried to rest as much as possible and tried to not get my hopes up too high just in case it was false labor. I had my husband take off work for the afternoon and go with me to my appointment and I’d never been so discouraged! The doctor said that I was dilated to a 2 but no where close to labor. She assumed I would probably be pregnant another week and scheduled my tentative induction. Cue all the tears.
I went home, still cramping, but telling myself my baby was playing tricks on me. I had called my mom earlier in the day and told her what was going on and she actually started driving to my house while I was at my appointment! I called her after my appointment and told her I was no where close to labor but she said she was on her way! We live 5 hours away from one another and she was almost halfway here. Whether it was motherly intuition or what soon after she arrived my cramping started getting even more intense. To the point I needed to stop for a moment and catch my breathe. Still there was naive me, saying “I am not in labor”!! LOL! I made dinner and then my mom suggested we go for a walk on the beach. At that time we rented a home about a block from the ocean. So my mom and husband walked me down to the beach in the 30 degree, windy weather and we walked about 2 miles in the sand! All while absolutely shivering!! My contractions picked up and I had to stop every couple minutes and breathe through them, so we turned around and decided to relax at home to see if they would continue.
After arriving home, they continued to pick up in intensity for the following hour or so. My mom kept trying to get me to agree to heading to the hospital, but here I was, still saying I wasn’t in labor!! I truly believed it since the doctor had told me just hours earlier that I was no where close! But around 10:30pm I agreed to leaving. The hospital was an hour away and I was afraid of how much more severe it could get within that hour. After the longest and most painful ride of my life, we finally got to the hospital! The nurses brought me to a room and checked me and I was almost at 5cm. I was a little worried at that point since my pain felt so intense and I was *only* at a 5. But I was admitted and refused pain medication and kept trying to labor on my own.
The contractions were so intense that I literally could not find any way to relieve or ease the pain. I tried walking, swaying, dancing, I had my husband press down on my hips, we tried massaging methods, it felt like we tried IT ALL. Nothing was helping and I was crying in pain. At that point it was around 3am and I was at 7cm. I finally gave in to getting an epidural. I had been awake and pre/laboring for about 24 hours and didn’t feel like I had the strength to make it much longer with my contractions being one on top of the other. The epidural took another hour to get but I finally felt relief! Although it wasn’t what I initially wanted, it helped me finally sleep for a few hours and get the strength for the coming hours.
I woke up around 8am and was discouraged that I had barely progressed since receiving the epidural and it appeared I was stalling out at 8cm. For the next 3 hours we used the peanut ball, and rolling me back and forth to try and progress labor. It worked and I was finally at 10cm! My water finally broke and the nurse told me I was ready to start pushing. I pushed for an hour with no progression and felt extreme discouragement. My epidural machine died in the midst of the pushing and the contraction pain returned again. I had a brief moment of near panic. Here I was feeling contractions at 10cm and the baby wasn’t coming out! There was a lot of hushed talk and mention of an emergency cesarean, but I was not ready to give up yet. The nurse gave me an hour to rest after pushing unsuccessfully and then returned with the doctor. I was so exhausted and discouraged. But the doctor examined me and realized that my son was sunny side up! This was the reason for the contractions being on top of one another, back labor and the labor stalling out. He was stuck! We finally had an answer. Thank goodness the doctor took control of the situation and was able to (painfully) position him correctly and I was able to start pushing again. He was born less than 30 minutes later.
I am so thankful and so relieved that I had a positive birth experience. It did not go like I envisioned it and was not completely natural, but it was such an amazing and empowering experience. I had no idea of what lied ahead in the months to come but it was an experience that made me feel like I was strong enough to do anything I needed to do. We are so blessed to have our little son and that he is such a healthy little guy. We named him Enoch Azariah Newton. He weighed 8 pounds 3 ounces and was 21 inches long. He was and is healthy as a horse and has been the biggest blessing of my life. Now that he is nearly one years old and that I am coming up on another birth in a few months, I have started to reflect on his birth a bit and remember the experience of meeting him for the very first time. What a blessing a new life is to us and may we never take for granted what a beautiful blessing children are to us.
“Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.”
— Psalm 127:3-5