Emily, age 26.
as we approached my 36 week appointment i think we were all a little bit curious to see if things would replay the way they went with my first baby's birth only 16 months previously. i posted his birth story to this blog and you can read it here.
but basically, it was super fast, and i was unknowingly dilated to a 6 at my 37 week appointment and told to head to the hospital.
but, back to Callum. the a few nights that week i had contractions, and then they would go away. my midwife and just about everyone else insisted from the beginning of my pregnancy that if i had hard contractions, ever, to go to the hospital. their words like "have, baby, in, car, on, side of road" haunted me.

saturday july 23rd i had contractions every 5-10 minutes for 3 hours. i called my midwife, she told me to take a bath and if they kept coming to go to the hospital. sure enough after the bath they kept coming. so i got in the car and went to the hospital. no hospital bag, no husband, no plan of staying because i was pretty sure this wasn't "it." but, obediently, i went in.

the nurse checked me... i was still a 4. i was shocked. she made me stay another hour to monitor me, and without fail contractions came every 7 minutes. she checked me again at the end of the hour, i was still a 4+. all in all it was a good experience, now i knew that i could have a contraction that doesn't equal baby! on the side of the road!

after no real action for the next couple days, i was prepared for just about anything when i walked into my 37 week appointment. everything except what actually happened, of course.
my midwife checked me and sat with her arm WAY in there for at least 30 seconds without saying a single word. she finally looked up and said "i literally couldn't find your cervix, you're dilated to an 8 and 100% effaced... i. i. i. just can't believe it."

a rush of excitement & nervous laughter overcame me. it's baby time! and once again, i had no idea. the on-call midwife met me at the office and we made a game plan. just like with my first, i tested positive for strep B, which can i just say: strep B is the wrench in my baby delivering machine?!

the plan ended up being just like Hayes'. come to the hospital & get the 4-hour antibiotic treatment. i asked if i could just go home after the treatment and wait to really go into labor, but they said absolutely not.
so, i packed my hospital bag, took a shower, called my sister to come watch Hayes, and got things ready to head out the door. 

here's the play by play: at 12:30 pm i get the antibiotics. contractions are coming every so often, our midwife Jenn says she'll be back at 4:30 pm to break my water and get the party started. we watch a movie, Russ snuck me a string cheese, we took a nap. she comes at 4:30 pm, checks me again, i am still dilated to an 8.
aka: NOT IN ACTIVE LABOR. active labor as defined by american fork hospital is dilating 1 cm in one hour.
this is where all my mom friends start to hate me. i don't know why, but i don't have painful contractions until my water breaks. yes, i can feel the pressure, but no real debilitating pain. i know i am the luckiest woman in the world!

so the midwife breaks my water and my contractions are now coming every 7 minutes so it's a pretty slow process. a contraction comes, i breathe through it, and then wait another 7 minutes.  the first 2 contractions my water is just flooding out with each one. the 3rd contraction i dilate to a 9, 4th contraction i dilate to a 10. 5th contraction i'm ready to push.

pushing hurts considerably more than it did last time. i am acutely aware that i am just getting owned down there (TMI sorry.) i can't help but cry between every push, but nevertheless for 4 sets of fierce pushing i know i am almost done & could care less about anything but seeing that baby's face.

Russ has been holding my left leg while i've been pushing and i notice he swaps places with a nurse. i realize the baby is almost here! Jenn the midwife said that if Russ wanted, when Cal was ready, he could be the one to deliver him. at 5:05 pm Russ laid him on my chest and we both just sobbed. i looked up and the labor and delivery nurse was sobbing too, it was a moment i'll never forget. Cal didn't cry right away he just looked around and was so angelic. Russ cut the cord after it was done surging and a few towel rubs to the back and his little mouse squeaker cry came out.

now, don't worry, i didn't get let off that easy. unfortunately, the afterbirth process was brutal. i felt a painful tugging with every stitch, but when i finally asked for more lidocaine she was pretty much done. and then i had to be put on a whole bag of pitocin to get things to stop bleeding. between that and the brutal kneading to my stomach every 15 minutes, i was not a happy girl for about an hour. it is true what you hear - getting your cervix to go back to normal hurts worse with each kid.

1. When did you decide you wanted to deliver your baby naturally?
This was my second med-free delivery, and I always said I could do it again if the labor went as fast as my first. 
2. What reasons or factors went into your decision?
I love all the benefits of a natural delivery, I love the self-empowerment that comes from accomplishing such a thing. And I founded this blog, so I sort of felt like I had to. :)
3. What did you do to prepare for natural childbirth? (midwife, classes, methods, books, etc.)
Nothing! Horrible right? I had a midwife and felt really comfortable that she would know what to do.
4. What was the hardest part of your experience - before, during, or after childbirth?
Pushing/Tearing and the post-partum contracting while I was on pitocin. Also, my boys are 16 months apart and in some ways that helped me and some ways it hurt me. My body was like "hey I remember this!" during delivery but while I was pregnant my poor hips and joints made me miserable!
5. What was most helpful to you during labor to help make pain from contractions manageable?
Having the illustration in my mind that any time I held tension or stress in my shoulders, head, or face, I was taking blood & oxygen away from my lady parts. Knowing that the more  relaxed I could stay, the better job my body would do helped me a little bit.
6. What do you wish you would have known going into delivery?
My midwife asked right as we were ready to push what position I wanted to push in. I had not mentally prepared to do anything but push on my back. I wish we would have discussed it earlier and I wish I would have prepared for it. She prefers to have her patients push on all fours, and I would love to give that a shot next time!
7. Is there anything you would have done differently?
Maybe pushing positions? Also, having a midwife was amazing and I felt like I didn't need my mom to try and be so hands-on and directive, she was telling me to do one thing and the midwife was trying to get me to do another. She was my #1 support and coach through my first delivery so she was just acting on experience, but turns out she could take the day off!
8. What did you feel were the positive benefits to your natural childbirth - were the benefits what you expected? 
Having an alert and calm baby. Nursing came really easy, my emotions were manageable, and I've never done drugs, but the high you get is unlike anything I've ever experienced.
9.  Is natural childbirth something you recommend to other mothers, or something you'd do again?
100% yes. Like I've said before, your body successfully created a baby from some chromosomes and blood. It knows what it's doing, and if you let it, it will do it's thing all the way until that baby is safely on your chest. Don't let doctors/protocol/or the popular majority get in it's way!
10. What advice do you have for other mothers interested in natural childbirth?

I loved my midwife experience. Knowing there were doctors in the next room over for all of my check-ups and at the hospital during my delivery was comforting, but a midwife can create the most amazing experience for a natural birthing woman. We hugged and cried together while I held my baby, she didn't even have to ask if i wanted to wait until the cord stopped surging to cut it, she let my husband deliver our son for crying out loud! It was incredible. They are just like doctors in the sense that their #1 priority is delivering a healthy baby safely and doing all they can for mom, too, but what they're willing to try to do so without unnecessary interventions is far more vast than any doctor i've seen.

Emily blogs at Ruffling Feathers.

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