It all began on Monday October 29th, almost one week past my due date. That morning I had a midwife appointment, and I was nervous and anxious at the same time because at this appointment I was going to be hooked up to the fetal monitor to make sure the baby wasn’t stressed and also get my membranes swept in order to promote labor. By the end of that appointment I was a little discouraged because I was told that sweeping my membranes would most likely induce labor if done in a series, it would be rare if it would work the first time. I headed home and decided to try as many things as I could think of to get this baby out. So, I ate a spicy sandwich, I took more evening primrose, drank red raspberry leaf tea and when Noel came home we went for a nice long walk at sunset.
Apparently the combination of things did it, because at eleven thirty that night I started to feel cramping. I wasn’t positive it was labor though because I had cramping before and nothing came of it. We had just gone to bed so I tried to get some sleep but I was realizing that these cramps were happening more frequently, so up I went to walk around and start my contraction app on my phone. An hour or so later I woke up Noel, texted my sister, who was my amazing doula, and called my midwife. Since I was able to talk through my contractions my midwife said that I should try and get some sleep and wait to go to the hospital until I was having contractions lasting one minute, every 4 minutes, for an hour. Maybe 15 minutes went by and the contractions got to the point where lying down was not feeling good at all. I had labored in the shower for a while which I loved…until the hot water ran out. Nicole came down around three am and was giving me tips on getting through the contractions and just talking with Noel and me, keeping us light hearted and calm. My contractions were lasting only 45 seconds by five thirty in the morning but we decided to head to Noel’s parents house in Oak Park so I could labor there and be closer to the hospital when it was time to go. Laura, my sister in law/photographer joined us there. I labored there from six to eleven; my contractions had intensified enough where it felt time to go. By noon we were at the hospital and I had been checked into triage. Blood was drawn, heplock was put in, and when I was checked I was 4 almost 5 centimeters. That was the number I needed in order to go to the ABC (Alternative Birthing Center) room. In that room I labored again in the shower, then on a ball for a little bit but then realized that sitting did not feel good at all! By two in the afternoon I had Laura, Nicole and Noel all helping me get through my contractions. They gave me ideas for where I could labor; they rubbed my back, my feel and gave me their hands to hold on tight to. They also held ice on my arm because the penicillin that was put in my IV was very irritating and painful. I had needed the penicillin because I was strep B positive. Three o ‘clock came around and I was feeling the exhaustion. I had a moment of panic because of the pain but re focused with the help of my labor team and by their suggestion went to the bed to rest in between each contraction. I was coached to relax all my muscles after each contraction and when they came to deepen my voice and hum. Laboring on the bed was terrible but I made it because of my team being there for me, humming with me and keeping my voice low, which is so important. I was dreading it, but I had to go to the bathroom. Each time I would go I would have a contraction and it was rough, so I had my team help me there. My water broke on the toilet and it was definitely a gush, thankfully it wasn’t a mess! Heading out of the bathroom my contractions worsened and my midwife checked me finally. Seven almost eight centimeters! That is exactly what I needed to be at to be able to get into the tub where I would give birth. The tub however had the slowest trickle, and took so long to fill up! I was laboring standing, leaning on Noel and I remember looking over at the tub several times and asking why it wasn’t filled up yet. Even though it wasn’t all the way filled, I needed to get in. They used a nozzle to keep my belly and rest of my body warm while the tub continued to fill up. The water soothed me, but the contractions were most intense than I could have imagined. I got to the point where I felt I had to push, my midwife checked me and gave me the go ahead…I was ten centimeters! I didn’t know that I was just suppose to push when I was having a contraction so I had exerted a lot of the energy I had left in pushing continuously, hoping it would bring this baby out once and for all. I then was told that I needed to just work with my body and push when I was having a contraction. Forty-five minutes later, a lot of silent pushing, and a ring of fire later, my baby was born. Although at the point that I had pushed his head out I had said that I couldn’t do it, I was so incredibly tired. Cohen Monroe Birkey was born in the water, Tuesday, October 30th at 6:52 pm. He was placed on my chest and I was relieved…he was here, finally! Weighing in at 8 pounds 6 ounces and measuring 21 inches long, our little boy was healthy and just perfect.
I can’t believe I had my baby naturally, but I feel empowered that I did. God gave me the strength and the support of my team to make it through and for that I am so grateful. I really couldn’t have done it without them. I highly suggest to anyone who wants to have a natural birth to have a doula, you won’t regret it.
Huge thank you to:
Noel, Nicole, Laura, my midwives Sarah and Amy, and Martha, our natural birthing class teacher…you gave us both so much knowledge for pregnancy and for having a natural birth.