When did you realize you were really in labor?
I realized I was in labor when I kept having to run to the bathroom and then eventually passed bloody show. I thought my contractions were Braxton Hicks at first, and then I thought they were the return of the stomach flu that had gone through my household the prior week. And then I timed them and they were less than two minutes apart.
What was the most challenging thing about going natural?
Managing "pushy", almost constant contractions. My contractions for both of my births progressed much more quickly than all the resources I'd read or heard indicated, and that was a little scary and a little frustrating. I also couldn't control feeling like I had to push before it was really time, and that was frustrating as well. And something I wasn't really prepared for.
What was the most helpful thing you did to prepare for childbirth?
The second time around, I had an in-depth conversation with my partner about what worked and what hadn't last time, and explicitly what I needed/expected as support. He was much better equipped to help the second time around, and I really felt he was present. I also made a playlist in the weeks before songs that I like to sing along to, and that helped with managing the contractions in the car.
What surprised you about your birth?
How different it was than the first time around, and how similar at the same time. How quickly my body progressed, and how out of control I still felt. Even though I knew what was coming and how things should go, it was still like being taken for a ride. Also, my baby had shoulder dystocia, and that was incredibly scary and painful when just seconds before he was crowning and I was so proud of being able to birth him without intervention.
What pain relief strategies worked best?
Breathing, changing positions frequently, rocking on hands and knees, showering. Moaning/swearing. Singing, because it forced breathing.
How did it feel to hold your baby for the first time?
Tentative and fragile. With my first I was so elated, with my second because of the complications I was scared that he was hurt.
What did you name your baby, and why?
Corbin, because it means little crow.
What advice can you give to other mamas who want to go natural?
It's good to plan out a framework, but recognize that ultimately you have to surrender control. It's not a process you can script. Don't be disappointed if labor goes "off script", be prepared to roll with things.