When did you realize you were really in labor?
At 6 pm on June 23rd, I went to my midwife appointment and asked for a membrane sweep. My sister, Celine, encouraged me to get the sweep because it worked for both of her pregnancies and I was struggling towards the end.
Baby Emery was getting heavier every day, my back was hurting me and there was a heatwave coming over the weekend. I tended to swell in my feet legs hands and face quite a bit with hot weather and was not looking forward to being super pregnant during 100+ degree weather.
The membrane sweep did not cause me much pain, it was more uncomfortable and awkward than painful. I took some deep breaths and got myself in the right mindset beforehand which probably helped. Immediately after the sweep, I did have some spots though.
My midwife, Marie, said doing the sweep did not ensure I was going to go into labor right away, she said it may not work at all but was worth a try. She also said I might have some practice contractions after the sweep. I had some bleeding right after but I was already 2cm dilated and 60 percent effaced when she did the sweep.
After we got home I lost the rest of my mucus plug and had bloody show around 10pm but didn't think much of it. We had some dinner and then we went to bed just after midnight. As my husband, Mark wished me happy birthday, I told him he might be saying that to our little one today too. We both kinda laughed, not thinking this was an actual possibility.
Overnight I had some mild contractions but thought it was just the practice contractions my midwife told me about. I just rolled to the other side and went back to sleep each time.
Having stayed up past midnight, Mark and I slept till about 9:30 am, and that's when my back and hips started hurting more than usual. My husband and I went for a coffee run and then out to a birthday breakfast. Still having light contractions my husband and I decided it would be best to stay home the rest of the day just in case I was in labor.
By 11:30 am they lasted 30 seconds to a minute long averaging about 10 minutes apart. I still did not think I was really in labor but timed them and told Marie just in case. Around noon things got a bit more intense and both doula, Jolene, and my midwives, Marie and Melissa, suggested I go through the miles circuit.
About an hour later Marie checked in to ask if the baby was still moving regularly and she was not. Around 2:30 pm they suggested I do some kick counting after drinking some juice and if I did not get to 10 in the hour they wanted me to come into the office.
Still having pain in my lower back and hips with the mild contractions, we made our way to the office because I only felt about 4 kicks within the hour. Around 3 pm Marie did a stress test on the baby and got the results she was looking for. Baby was doing just fine but the machine did not pick up any contractions despite the waves of back pain.
My husband and I agreed that although I might not give this baby today it may happen overnight and into the morning. We went to Costco and got some food for the birth team just in case. My waves of back and hip pain got more intense while we were walking around and we decided to go home.
I told my husband it might be best if he brought our dog to daycare as soon as we get home just in case. I went to lie down after he left and that's when I knew I was in labor. I got in the bath just 5 mins after he left because my back and hip contractions became more intense and more consistent. That's when I knew I was really in labor.
What was the most challenging thing about going natural?
The most challenging thing about going natural was learning to trust my body to know how to handle the pain. I really didn't think I was that in tune with my body, but when I was in labor I really did have to dig deep and trust that my body would be able to help me deliver my baby. At the end of labor when I felt the "ring of fire" pain I just told myself over and over that I'm at the end of it all and just have to push a few more times
What was the most helpful thing you did to prepare for childbirth?
I did a lot of things to prepare for childbirth including reading books, watching videos, doing classes, drinking red raspberry leaf tea, used evening primrose oil, sat on my birth ball and did alot of curb walking but the most helpful thing was hiring a doula that helped me prepare mentally for labor birth and postpartum. During our pre-birth meetings, my doula, Jolene, came to our house and gave us a binder stocked full of informational pamphlets and handouts regarding birth plans, statistics, expectations, and excersises, as well talked my husband and me through things to think about and plan for during labor and through postpartum.
What surprised you about your birth?
Im surprised that my pregnancy, labor and birth was uncomplicated and relatively "easy". Of course there was moments of pain, crying and a bit of suffering during both pregnancy and birth but I would do it again just to feel the high of my brand new baby on my chest. Motherhood is truly amazing and its especially incredible to see what our bodies can do. I focused on my inner self and constantly reminded myself to breathe, moan in a low pitch, that this was going to get me to my life long dream of having a little one in my arms amd that labor is supposed to be intense but my body was built for this moment.
Taking classes that leaned natural and ones that leaned medical really helped me figure out the kind of birth I wanted. Also, spend time thinking about reality.
What pain relief strategies worked best?
When my doula arrived she used a TENS unit on my back, and when I was going through a contraction I was able to ramp up the electrodes to counter the pain. But the best pain relief was getting into the birthing pool. I had immense pressure on my rectum, and could no longer stay laying down in bed. After what felt like hours, but was probably only a few minutes, the midwives gave me the ok to get in the birthing pool. After getting off of bed I had another urge to push and dropped to the floor on all fours. I pushed 2 or 3 times there as my husband and our doula removed the TENS unit and my nightgown. No one thought I was going to make it to the pool but when I got a slight break from pain I immediately stood up and got into the birthing pool. As soon as I got in the pool my leg pain and back pain got so much better. I was able to breathe properly, take a few breaks between contractions, and put all my focus on pushing. I switched positions quite often from all fours to bent over the side of the pool to hold myself upright with my legs up on the edge of the pool. I found myself "running away" from the pain but my doula and husband said I needed to stay and push through the pain. After a while, I felt her head get lower and lower into my pelvis, and at that point, I could no longer hold myself up in the birthing pool anymore. I told my husband to get in the pool behind me to hold me up and he jumped in. As soon as he got in the pool, the midwives said they could see the baby's head and that I was almost there. I reached down and felt a head full of hair and got really excited to push and get her out. A few more pushed and our little girl was born just an hour before my 24th birthday ended.
How did it feel to hold your baby for the first time?
Holding my baby for the first time was a feeling I had never experienced before, it was like falling in love and being high off life. All the pain ans intensity fizzeled away and I just couldnt believe that my little girl was here and on my chest. Immediately after birth I kept repeating to my husband "oh my god, we have a baby" The only family memeber that was in the house was my sister and I did call her name a few times because I was so proud to show her my beautiful creation
What did you name your baby, and why?
My daughter has a fairly long name but it has some history. My mom had trouble conceiving my sister and decided that because her doctors told her she would not be able to have any more kids in the future, she would give her 5 names to include everyone in the family. But a few years later a miracle happened, she was pregnant again with me and did the same thing, she gave me 5 names to include the whole family. I really wanted to do that for my daughter too so I gave her 5 names as well. Her full name is Emery Joelle Kim Lisanne Tan . Emery was a combination of the name my husband liked, Avery, and the name I liked, Emerson. Joelle represents all of our daughter's grandmothers, my mom Johanna, his mom Joy, and his stepmom Jackie. Kim is for my husband's grandmother that passed a few years ago and Lisanne is my sister's first name.
What advice can you give to other mamas who want to go natural?
My best advice to other mamas is to trust your body and get educated so you know what to expect when the day comes. I wanted to know about all the possible outcomes, interventions, positions, and techniques in both a natural sense and a medical sense. Taking classes that leaned natural and ones that leaned medical really helped me figure out the kind of birth I wanted. Also, spend time thinking about reality, for me having a baby was a dream but I didn't think about all the things I needed and wanted for our daughter, for myself during labor, the things that needed to get done around the house, how my husband and I were going to keep up with laundry and cleaning, what we were going to eat postpartum and the reality of having to go back to work until my doula gently forced us to do so. Thinking and planning these logistics out really helped us decide what I wanted and how I wanted it all