Just to give you the whole story about my pregnancy I will start from the very beginning. My husband Justin and I had been trying to conceive a baby since the fall of 2005. After many years of being unsuccessful we changed our focus to adoption and finalized two separate adoptions in 2014. In April of 2015 I started feeling sick and, after some encouragement from a friend, I took a pregnancy test and discovered I was pregnant. To say we were surprised was the understatement of a lifetime and we ended up taking about 5 pregnancy tests before we believed it was true.
My first phone call was to my good friend Tisha Seghers who is a midwife for Crescent City Physicians at Touro. I was pretty confident at the time that I wanted a natural childbirth but I was nervous about committing to it thinking that I wasn’t sure if I could do it or not and I didn’t want to be over confident. At our first appointment we talked a lot about what a natural birth would look like and what Tisha’s role would be. She encouraged me to think about hiring a doula. My husband and I were not 100% sure we wanted to hire a doula thinking that we wanted the birth to be the just the two of us. We decided to talk to a few doulas in the area and see what we thought. We only ended up meeting with one doula team, Katy Soong and Corinne Marshall, and knew almost immediately that we wanted to work with them. After I hired them they brought on another doula Kayla Mundt so I had the added benefit of having Katy and Kayla at my birth.
Throughout my pregnancy we met with Katy and Corinne about our birth and our plan. I started seeing Dr. Erica Manger with Wellness in Motion for regular chiropractic adjustments using the Webster Method to open my pelvis. We also did some hypnobabies and Bradley work on our own and read both books. We decided to take private birthing classes from Elizabeth Meier and Hailey Aliff. I felt very prepared from all of the work we did on our own and from the people that we were working with.
I am 36 years old and I also have thyroid issues so my pregnancy was considered somewhat high risk. Tisha and her collaborative partners referred me to Maternal Fetal Medicine with Touro. Along with Tisha they monitored me throughout my pregnancy. The baby was measuring very large, greater than 95th percentile, and around 27 weeks we found out I had gestational diabetes. As it got closer to the end of my pregnancy Tisha and I met and decided that the best course of action was to look at inducing me at 38 weeks. This wasn’t the typical practice for Tisha but we both agreed that it gave me the best chance of having the birth I wanted. However we both made a plan to get me into labor on my own the weekend before I was scheduled to be induced. This included everything from drinking red raspberry tea leaf, using evening primrose oil, having regular adjustments with the chiropractor, using clary sage and fennel, I scheduled two prenatal massages, and I was on my birthing ball as frequently as I could be. I basically did anything and everything except drinking castor oil. I mentally had prepared myself and kept saying that I was going to go into labor on my own the Saturday before my induction was scheduled.
Monday, a week before my scheduled induction, I was 37 weeks pregnant. I woke up that morning wet and having contractions. They weren’t really intense and I had been having them for weeks but something seemed different. I called Tisha and she said to come in that it looked like I was in labor. I got to her office and come to find out it was nothing. I was so bummed. I really thought I had started it all on my own. I got into my head after that and as the week passed I got more and more disappointed thinking that I was going to have to be induced and I wasn’t going to go into labor on my own. Saturday came and went and I just resigned myself that I was going to have to be induced. I still kept up with all of my induction methods I was trying on my own.
Monday, the day I was scheduled to be induced, I woke up at 4:00am having contractions. They were different than I had felt before so I waited about a half an hour and I started timing them. They weren’t incredibly painful but I couldn’t sleep through them. I was terrified to say I thought I was in labor so I didn’t say anything to my husband until about 7:00am when I was making the kids breakfast and hanging on to the countertop. He asked what was wrong and I told him I was having regular contractions and pretty sure I was in labor. I finally felt confident that it was happening and not going to stop around 10:00am and called Tisha, my midwife, and Katy, my doula, to let them know what was happening. Tisha said to labor at home until I felt like the contractions were intense enough that I needed assistance from her. She encouraged me to stay home as long as possible as she knew I would be miserable if I was at the hospital too long. I spoke with Katy too and she also encouraged me to rest and just enjoy my time at home and to call her when I felt like I needed assistance getting through the contractions. Around 3:00pm I called Katy and asked her to come over. The contractions still weren’t that intense but I was going stir crazy and kept thinking I wanted to go to the hospital. It was so funny to me because my whole pregnancy all I talked about was wanting to labor at home but once I was in labor all I wanted to do was go to the hospital. I guess in my mind I knew that was the end game so to speak and it made me want to get there. About 5:30 Katy and Kayla said that they were going to go grab dinner and give me some time to be alone with Justin and they would come back about 7:30 and we would get ready and make our way to Touro. I was scheduled to be there for induction at 9:00 so Tisha said to come one way or another at that time. When they left I applied clary sage and fennel to my pressure points and started diffusing it. About 20 minutes later my contractions started getting much harder. I was having to hang on to something when they would start and I could no longer talk when I was having them. When Katy and Kayla got back to the house I was ready to go.
When we arrived at Touro Tisha came and checked me and I was 4 ½ centimeters dilated and almost fully effaced. She said there was really no reason to give me any of the induction medications. I was beyond thrilled! I had gotten it started on my own and I was going to be able to have a fully medication free birth. We decided to let my husband go to sleep and I was laboring with Katy and Kayla. I went from the birthing ball to the rocking chair to the bed. Around 1am or so they asked me if I wanted to get into the tub. I went to stand up and get out of the bed and my water broke. Again I was so excited that things were progressing on their own so naturally. Well then it got real and very intense.
I started having really intense contractions and was not getting a break. I also started having back labor and the contractions would come on in my abdomen and as soon as it would end it would go to my back and I would have another one. The tub was helpful but I was starting to cave. They kept telling me that I was in transition and that it was the hardest part but I just kept getting in my head and thinking about how I was going to push this baby out when I literally thought I was going to not make it through the contractions. I finally caved and called my husband over to the tub and asked for the epidural. He was so sweet and he just looked at me and said, No. I literally just stared at him. He said no, you can’t have an epidural because I know it isn’t what you want. You want a natural birth and you are so strong and I love you and you can do this. I wanted to cry but I also knew he was right so I got into my zone again and I committed myself that I could do it. A little while after this I fell asleep, in the tub. No clue how long I slept for.
Throughout transition I mostly stayed in the tub. I got up and walked around the room some and also got in the shower or laid in the bed. I spent a lot more time in the bed than I thought I would have but it was comfortable and I was happy there. Around 7:00am Tisha came and checked me again and I was 10cm. There was a part of his bag still attached and I also had some scar tissue around my cervix that needed to break before he was going to come out so I needed a little more time. I was also not mentally ready to push at this point. I got back in the tub for a little while but was still certain I didn’t want to birth in there. I started feeling the urge to push and about 11:30 they got me out of the tub and into the bed to push. As soon as I started pushing Tisha was called into a delivery next door and had to leave the room. There was a complication and she ended up being gone much longer than originally anticipated. By the grace of God I rolled over and fell asleep again. When Tisha came back in the room I needed a little coaxing to get back in the game. My husband put on his drill sergeant hat for a moment and was like wake up and let’s do this thing. I finally got up and pushed about 4 times and he was out. I had built it up in my head so much and it happened so quickly. I expected pushing to be so much worse than it was. It was a lot of pressure and then I felt the ring of fire and a few snaps, which must have been me tearing, and then he was out and on my chest.
It was literally the most amazing feeling and it was everything I wanted it to be. My birth was long but perfect and I would do it again in a heartbeat.
The biggest things that I took away from my birth experience were that it didn’t hurt nearly as much as I thought it was going to. It was uncomfortable and exhausting as I ended up being in labor for 35 hours but it didn’t hurt like I expected it to. The one thing I would change is that I would have communicated better with my doulas and my husband. I was scared or nervous at certain points throughout the labor but I didn’t want to admit I was scared so I stayed in my own head a lot. I think that everyone would have been able to meet my needs better if I had communicated it them.
I do feel like my birth was successful because I built the right support system. My doulas and midwife were amazing and I would not have been able to do it without them.