Becky, age 28.

To read the story of my first natural birth posted on this blog, click here. The week before our second daughter was born, we walked and walked and walked hoping labor would start, but it didn't. At my appointment that week, I was at a one. At my next appointment (39 weeks) I asked my doctor if she would strip my membranes and she did. I was at a 3+ and 70% effaced then and she was sure I would start having contractions within 6 to 12 hours. This was at 9:30 a.m. By one to two hours, I was cramping a lot and by noon I had had a few contractions. They came every 12 minutes until 5 p.m. From 5 to 6 I cleaned the house and they started to come every 4 to 5 minutes. I was surprised to see they were coming that quickly, but I was pretty sure I wasn’t dilating super fast because they weren't increasing in pain. But of course I didn’t want to deliver in the car so we packed up everything and dropped my other daughter off with my parents. We headed downtown (where the hospital is) and decided to grab some dinner just in case we couldn't eat for awhile. The contractions slowed back down to every 12 minutes and only occasionally would come every 4-5 minutes. We walked around the block a few times after that. We kept debating what to do since I was nervous labor might be stalling. We finally decided to just go to the hospital and see where I was at and what they said. We got to Labor & Delivery at 9 p.m. They put the monitors on and when a contraction came on, the nurse felt my belly and said,“WOW, that one is hard.” I said, “Yeah, I hope they’re doing something good!” Then she checked me. I was 3+ and 70% effaced. I was SO disappointed. 9 hours of contracting and I hadn’t progressed at all.

 She told us to walk around for an hour and then she would check me again to see if I had progressed. We walked around and they started coming every 4-5 minutes again, and when I was checked again, she said I was definitely at a 4 and that because I had progressed, she’d call the doctor and see if they’d let me be admitted. While we had been walking that hour, I had a thought come to my mind that I should try squatting. I pulled out pictures of squatting positions from some labor info I had brought. I found that there were two that really helped. One was my husband sitting on a chair and I would squat back into his legs and rest my armpits on his legs. It helped with the back labor and also said it helped the baby descend more quickly. The other one was when we were standing, he’d hold his arms out and I’d drop back onto them and he’d hold all my weight under my armpits. That one was physically exhausting for him so I tried to do that one only while walking the halls if there wasn't a chair near. The nurse ended up having two emergency deliveries and came back 2 hours later at midnight. She checked me and I was at a 4+. Talk about slow progression.

My husband kept telling me, “As soon as you get to a 5, things are going to go SO fast.” I wanted to believe it because it’s true for most, but I just couldn’t believe it for me. Our nurse came in and said the exact same thing. I told them I'd like to believe it, but I would only be able to believe it when I saw it. The nurse asked how long my first labor was and I said almost 20 hours. She said, “We’ll definitely beat that; things go so much faster the second time.” (In the end, it was a total of 18 hours, so I did beat it, but not how I had hoped…!) The nurse was able to call the doctor then and she admitted me. She went in and out doing admitting stuff and then came in and said she’d like to check me because she’d seen that at a peak of a contraction it had sharply dropped which usually meant more pressure. She said I was at a 5. From 12 to 12:40 a.m. we walked more and then were monitored again. I was pretty exhausted so I suggested we should try to sleep through an hour of monitoring and see what happened. I didn’t sleep, but at least I closed my eyes and rested from 1 to 2 a.m. It was needed. My husband slept too and I was glad because I could tell he was exhausted too. At 2:30 a.m., I was at my end. She checked me and I was at a 6 and 90% effaced. Every time she checked me it was really painful and she had such a hard time reaching the cervix. I was alone and in so much pain and suffering and so confused at why things were going so terrible. The contractions were SO hard and painful and were doing almost nothing. The contractions I had been having at 4-5 cms were as hard as the ones I remember having during transition with my first. We walked for another hour and at 3:30 a.m., I was at a 6 still, but the cervix was not posterior anymore. I asked if breaking my water would help and she said she’d call my doctor at 6 a.m. and ask her. I was really not cool with that because that was still a couple hours away. She came back a few minutes later and asked if I would like her to call now. I said yes. She called my doctor and my doctor had her check me during a contraction. At 4:30 a.m. I was at an 8 and was completely effaced. The contractions started to come almost on top of each other, and I fell back into my husband’s arms during all of these contractions and squatted. We rocked back and forth a little while squatting and it helped. My doctor came in and broke my water at 4:55 a.m. After a couple more contractions, I was given the go-ahead to push. I started pushing at 5:19 a.m. I pushed on my left side and curled my body down so hard every time I pushed. With my first, they helped me count every push, but this time I was just going almost nonstop for minutes just trying to get her out. For some reason, I really thought that it would be very quick, very few pushes and she’d be out. So many of friends have had the quickest pushing experiences their second time around and I just figured I’d be the same, especially since I was really pushing and curling hard. I kept thinking I’d hear, “There’s the head!” and never did. I finally said, “How much longer?” The doctor and nurses said, “That depends on you” and I got the vibe I wasn't as far as I thought. During one push my doctor told me to grunt and blow really hard. I immediately thought that this must be the head and she was trying to help me not tear as it came out. I felt my doctor stick her hand in me and felt intense pain, so when the head didn’t come out I was confused all over again at why this was taking so long. (I found out later that she reached in and turned the baby because she was posterior.) I kept pushing and heard, “I see hair!” and that was when I knew that I wasn’t even close. I was so disappointed knowing that I had so far to go still.

 I cried in between contractions and begged to not have another one come quickly because I needed to rest and get ready for another one. I wanted more than anything to just die, but since that wish wasn’t granted I curled my body as hard as I could and pushed with all my might. As I pushed, I held onto the bed bar with my left hand with all my might (which ended up making my iv needle hit a nerve and made my hand numb for over a week). When my husband, the nurse, or my doctor would cheer me on and say they could tell it was a good push, I was so grateful to know that I was progressing. I kept feeling stretching and insane burning pain. I was sweating horribly. Finally I heard that the head was out and I tried to touch it quickly but couldn’t because the pain was so insane and intense. I beared down as hard as I could, screaming I’m pretty sure, and felt the shoulders pass and felt the rest of the limbs come out at 5:47 a.m. I honestly don’t know that I’ve ever been more relieved in my life. It was over and she was here. I was SO happy to have her out. I knew the afterbirth would be terrible too, but that didn’t matter because SHE WAS OUT! I was elated. They had told me that they’d let her lay on the delivery table for 1.5 minutes after birth to let the blood from the cord enter her before they cut it and I was really happy to let them do that. I really couldn’t see her that well over my back, but what I could see, I thought, “Oh she’s so small!” I reached my right hand and put it down hoping to feel a leg or something and instead was thrilled to feel her fingers wrap around mine. It made me the happiest ever.

 The 1.5 minutes passed, they cut the cord, and put her on my chest. She almost immediately stopped crying and was so calm. I was bleeding so they started a bag of Pitocin to get my uterus to contract faster and they began punching it down. I was really in control and totally okay with it instead of kicking and screaming like with my first. I was holding my child!!! They let me hold her for at least 10 minutes which I loved. They took her and weighed her and she was 7lbs. 8oz. I was thrilled... only 2 oz smaller than my first and the same length. I was grateful I had had my membranes stripped and had delivered her at that size instead of bigger considering how hard it had been with her that size. My doctor began stitching me up and I began to shake. And shake and shake and shake. I laid there and shook for probably 30 minutes. It was horrible and I wished I could stop. They would occasionally tell me to take huge breaths so I wouldn’t hyperventilate. They gave Camille to my husband during that time and I was happy that he was holding her. After finishing stitching, they gave me lots of fluids since I was really light headed and almost passing out. Around now, the nurse told us that they found that Camille had been posterior and that my doctor had turned her in the birth canal and I immediately said, “NO WONDER IT TOOK SO LONG.” I know that when the head isn’t pushing on the cervix correctly that labor is usually longer and that there is a lot of back labor. It made sense why the rocking positions hadn’t felt right and why the squatting positions had. A bit later I was then told I either had to go pee or that I’d have to have my bladder emptied with a catheter. I was really light-headed, but didn’t want a catheter so I said I’d try. My husband and the nurse helped walk me to the bathroom and on the way I dropped quite a few really large clots. I sat on the toilet and almost passed out. The nurse had my husband hold me on the toilet while she grabbed a wheelchair. Because I was losing too much blood, they put another bag of Pitocin on. I actually wanted that so that I could stop bleeding so I was fine with it. The only problem was that the cramping it created made me almost pass out again. I laid there for probably and hour, looking insanely pale (according to my husband), and feeling like I'd die. Finally at 9 a.m. I started to bleed normally and was able to go to the postpartum room. In the postpartum room I ended up almost passing out a couple more times, but by noon I was on the uphill climb and did well from there, thankfully!

To be honest, I was a bit traumatized about how it all went. With my first, I was elated with how the natural birth went. This time was honestly a horrific memory for me for a couple weeks, but time is definitely healing my emotions and feelings. As my doctor discharged me, she suggested looking into pain relief the next time. And to be honest, I am interested into looking into pain relief if things go similarly next time. If things progress quickly and normally I’m sure I’ll be much more willing to try it again. I want to research ways to push better. I think I had created a sureness in my mind that I’d be contracting for no more than 10 hours and that I’d be able to push her out in a couple pushes. Everything I’ve read said it should be half the time of your first labor and that since you know how to push, it happens so quickly. Hopefully that will all come true next time…! As I think about her birth and labor & delivery in general, the more I think about how incredible it is that a body can even do that... it's almost superhuman to think of passing a child through your body like that.

 1. When did you decide you wanted to deliver your baby naturally? 
After the birth of our first baby, I knew I wanted to do it again.
2. What reasons or factors went into your decision? 
I had done it before and it was wonderful and it feels right for me.
3. What did you do to prepare for natural childbirth? (midwife, classes, methods, books, etc.)
I re-read all the info I had saved from my first birth. I took all that info with me to the hospital, just in case.
4. What was the hardest part of your experience - before, during, or after childbirth? During.
5. What was most helpful to you during labor to help make pain from contractions manageable? The squatting positions I mentioned as well as some other ones I tried.
6. What do you wish you would have known going into delivery? Not to expect things to go fast; it gave me false ideas and hope and made the labor seem even longer than it was.
7. Is there anything you would have done differently? I don't think I would have gotten an epidural, but I do think I would have spent almost 100% of the time squatting had I known she was posterior. Or I wish I could have had other ideas of how to deal with the posterior contractions.
8. What did you feel were the positive benefits to your natural childbirth - were the benefits what you expected? I feel empowered.
9. Is natural childbirth something you recommend to other mothers, or something you'd do again? Yes and yes (I think! Ha!).
10. What advice do you have for other mothers interested in natural childbirth? Read all these stories and all the other ones you can get your hands on. They are the best prep for childbirth, in my opinion. Also, I am 100% supportive of a hospital birth. Find a doctor who supports it and birth in a hospital. There are just too many things that can go wrong at home.

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