When did you realize you were really in labor?
I had prodromal labor big time! For about a week, my contractions would start in the morning or afternoon, come every 5-10 minutes, and then be totally gone by 6 PM. The morning before my baby's due date, I could tell it was different. The discomfort really started to turn into pain, and the contractions did not fade away. Around 8 PM, I called my doula and told her I thought it was almost time to head to the hospital. By 10pm, the contractions were unbearably painful, so I tried to rest in between and to stay hydrated and nourished. We finally went in at 2 PM, when my contractions were 4-5 minutes apart.
What was the most challenging thing about going natural?
Trusting my instincts. I had the tiniest leak of amniotic fluid around 37 weeks, and the medical community's immediate response is to induce within 24 hours. I am SO GLAD I didn't do it! I read that with a leak, you and the baby can get an infection, but the risk, ironically, increases exponentially with every vaginal exam. I did not want to be induce! Instead, I chose to play it super safe and avoid introducing anything foreign into my womb and went in for non-stress tests and blood work every few days. The midwives and doctors weren't exactly happy with me, but it was a compromise I felt good about. And my baby ended up coming, full term, on his due date!
What was the most helpful thing you did to prepare for childbirth?
I took 2 birth classes, which were both incredibly helpful! The mama natural birth course provided tons of information, and I felt fully equipped to make educated choices about everything, from finding a medical provider to natural methods of induction to vitamin K shots. And even the number of ultrasounds I signed up for! The Pink Kit course taught me a ton about my own physiology, gave my partner confidence in how to be fully present and participate during active labor, and pushed me to really practice my breathing exercises every day. I highly recommend both, and wish I'd had them with my 1st and 2nd babies!
What surprised you about your birth?
The biggest "surprise" was that I actually had a uterine rupture. I was that 1%, the seemingly impossible risk that we take on as VBAC-ers. It was my worst fear during this pregnancy, and it happened. Fortunately, because I followed my instincts (even changing providers and hospitals at 39 weeks!) I was in the best possible place - with wonderful midwives at a birth center located within a major city hospital. When things truly went south, they went fast.
Everything seemed like it was going well at first. Baby was OA, I'd had no interventions, and had gotten to transition 100% naturally. At that point, I began to really suffer and felt the worst pain imaginable. I tried to ride it out, got in the tub, and got nitrous oxide, but it was absolutely unbearable. I finally asked for an epidural, and was barely coherent at that point. After about an hour of pushing with the epidural and scary "late decelerations" of baby's heart rate, I experienced breakthrough pain - again, the pain worse than I could ever imagine. The midwives called the OB doctors at that point, and they had me in surgery in just a few minutes. I am so grateful they did, because my uterus tore from a previous c-section scar up my left and around to the back. I had thinning in a second part of my uterus. A few minutes longer, and both baby and I could have been in major trouble.
In the end, I feel it all happened perfectly. My skills and knowledge got me through an entire labor, after 2 c-sections. My intuition led me to the right place, with the right people. And my trust in my own body got me into surgery when I truly needed it, and may have even saved my baby's life. I feel enormously grateful for all the preparation and work I did with this pregnancy!
In the end, I feel it all happened perfectly.
What pain relief strategies worked best?
For me, it was 100% in the breathing.
What position did you end up delivering in?
C-section, for a true medical emergency.
How did it feel to hold your baby for the first time?
How did the Mama Natural Birth Class help you in your childbirth?
It gave me so much information and support, it was like having an entire village of women (who just recently gave birth, and were up-to-date on all the latest!) to rely upon for facts, opinions, and stories.