Sunday, July 31, 2011

the birth story of ava britain

to start properly with this story, i must go back a little bit. a few months ago, while reading fascinating midwive's memoirs, i found myself drawn to the idea of a natural, drug-free birth this time around. i was hesitant to voice my thoughts, but eventually asked josh what he thought of the idea, since he hated seeing me in pain for my last 2 deliveries and was begging for the epidural nearly as much as i was! josh, of course, was very supportive and i was thankful not only for that but also that my mom was (hopefully) going to be present at the delivery as well, since she delivered 4 babies naturally. i wasn't planning on using any one "method" for natural pain management, but rather found that by reading about other women's experiences and especially talking to other moms who have been through it, i was encouraged to begin remembering the little things that worked for them and keep them in my mind so that i could try a variety of things while in labor to find what worked for me.

in the week leading up to giving birth, i couldn't stop reading. stacks of child birthing books are still by my bedside and many many birth stories were found on friends' blog archives and re-read. because of preparing myself mentally for a natural birth, i really didn't want to try to bring labor on before i was supposed to. still, by tuesday i found myself googling "natural ways to induce labor" and requested a friend's recipe for a labor inducing concoction that had brought her little girl out exactly on her due date.

as it turns out, i had no need to go out and buy weird ingredients. on wednesday the 27th (my due date) i began feeling strong, regular contractions at around 4pm. eager to keep them going, i stayed on my feet preparing dinner and tidying up the house. after dinner my mom and i took samuel for a good long walk and, though i never had to stop walking and breathe through them, i could feel them getting stronger and stronger and by the time we got home, they were close to 3 minutes apart. i then took a breather and sat up in my bed, timing them while my mom got the boys bathed and into bed. i was excited, but also a little skeptical. being sent home from the hospital once while pregnant with samuel had left its mark on me and i definitely did not want to be admitted to the hospital in the evening, only to spend the night there and find that my labor had stalled. so even though my mom and josh both were ready to get to the hospital, i kept wavering until around 10.00pm when i finally just said "let's stay home." the contractions were beginning to become a little sporadic and some weren't as strong as they had been. that night i did sleep, though i remember having dreams about elephants stomping around my room causing me to contract every now and then.

on thursday morning, i awoke and felt a contraction here and there every 20 minutes or so. josh was determined to get things going, so he called into work to take the day off and he and i went out for a good brisk walk at 6:30am. we came home to a delicious homemade pancake breakfast thanks to my mom. i had no idea that was the last meal i would enjoy all day! i was so set on having my baby on the 28th that i set to work grocery shopping, watering the garden and vacuuming the entire upstairs. by the time i was done all that, i took a quick shower and declared to josh, "let's go!" my contractions were again 3 minutes apart and strong and i thought that it wouldn't be the end of the world if the hospital turned us away since it wasn't like we'd be missing out on a good night's sleep or anything. the hospital is about a 45 minute drive from our house and during that drive, as dreaded, my contractions slowed way down so that once we had parked and were on our way to the admissions desk, they were 10 minutes apart. still, we were shown to a room and when the nurse saw in my records that i had been 4 cm dilated 2 days earlier, she went ahead and admitted me before i was even checked.

the team of midwives that i had were wonderful! one was a bit of a spazz and kept things light and fun, and the other one was quieter and more down-to-business, but super sweet. they came in to check me and were happy to exclaim that i was 6 cm! i was, quite honestly, shocked because even though my contractions were strong, they were super manageable and i didn't feel like i was truly in active labor. and so we set to work walking the halls of the birth center. i was allowed 30 minutes at a time of walking followed by 30 minutes of being hooked up to the monitors so they could keep tabs on the baby's heart rate. i asked not to be hooked up to the IV though, since i had plans of using the shower once things started getting tough. well, the toughest that things got at that point was keeping myself from salivating while watching josh and my mom devour their lunch in the corner of the room. it was torture! i was starving, but of course all i could "eat" was ice chips. (and they were pretty good ice chips if i do say so myself.)

so josh and my mom took turns walking the halls while i waddled and i'd smile at the other pregnant women who were waddling around in their hospital gowns as well, all the while wondering how in the world i could be 6 cm dilated and smiling! the midwives were eager to check me after awhile, since there were a ton of laboring women around, but i was the most progressed. even after all that walking, i was still 6 cm (which didn't surprise me a whole lot due to lack of intense pain), so i gave the go ahead to break my water. once she had broken my water, the midwife had a puzzled expression saying, "why is there no fluid?" she was positive that she had felt the "pop", but there was no fluid either gushing or trickling, even when i stood up to walk some more. so we just went along and resumed walking/waddling and growing quite bored with the same scenery and lack of proper contractions. after about another hour, the 2nd, more calm midwife checked me, found me to still be 6 cm and also found that the bag of water was still intact! aha! so this time she broke it and oh my word, it was like a fire hose! neither midwife could believe how much water kept gushing out and one even commented about the baby being smaller than they originally thought since i had so much water in there.

once my water had for sure broken, the contractions gradually picked up, which was nice because i was a little worried about being slammed immediately into transition. i got out of the bed and started swaying with each contraction, finding it most comfortable to sling my arms around josh's shoulders and lean my head against his chest. we slow-danced like this to songs playing softly on my ipod that i had picked especially for giving birth. i focused on breathing and on keeping my body relaxed instead of tensing up each time i felt a contraction come. i also remembered some great advice that my friend michelle had told me, which was to work through each contraction separately, not worrying about all the ones to follow, but just focusing on getting through that one single contraction.

soon my breathing out was replaced by low moans that i didn't feel capable of stopping and i began feeling the urge to go to the bathroom, so i got my mom to page the nurses station. my midwives came bustling in and when they saw me swaying and moaning against josh's chest, one of them rubbed her hands together and said, "its christmas morning!!" i had to get back into the bed to get checked again and was found to be 8 cm, so no pushing allowed. i was still pretty focused at this point and loved feeling josh massage my shoulders through each contraction while my mom's cool hand rubbed my left arm. then things got fierce.

only minutes after i had been 8 cm, i felt myself spinning out of control, unable to get on top of the pain. instead of holding josh's hand with loose fingers, i was gripping it as hard as i could and my breathing had gone out the window. i had that panicky feeling of "i can't do this!!" as the most painful of all contractions gripped my body, one on top of the other leaving me no room to recover in between. and then the urge to push happened. i've never felt the urge to push before. both times before i've been too drugged up with the epidural to feel any sensation, so i've always pictured it as feeling like you're going to the bathroom. i had absolutely no idea how forceful that urge would be. i would describe it more like the involuntary urge to vomit, your body just heaves and does it without your consent. the midwives remained calm, but told me to hold on a moment while they checked me one last time and sure enough, i was fully dilated and ready to bear down. i've read that pushing feels like a "welcome relief", yet in my experience it did not! it was the most crazy part of all and i'm pretty sure that the array of noises i made would have terrified those poor pregnant women waddling the halls into asking for epidurals immediately upon returning to their rooms.

 i bellowed, i roared, i snarled and just pushed with all of my might. and then pushed some more. for some reason the thought of holding onto my own legs and curling over my belly to push just seemed impossible, and that's when i let out the "i CAN'T!" but i did and it was the craziest sensation to feel my baby being propelled down out of my stomach. and then The Crowning happened. i'm not trying to scare anyone out there, i'm just telling it like it is, but that crowning was something else. the midwife looked into my eyes and told me that i was going to want to pull back, but that i needed to push through it, and so i did. it hurt. a lot. and then her head was through and i was wondering why it was still burning so much to push the rest of her out. well, that was because she takes after her daddy in the shoulder department.

finally she was on my chest and was looking at me with her dark eyes and i felt my hand all wet and realized that my mom had been bawling and had cried all over it. and josh was there talking to our sweet ava and i was in shock and in awe and in love all at the same time.

it took a long while to get stitched up (something i won't go into details on, but let's just say the pain rivaled parts of my labor) and then finally i could really hold her and nurse her and just look at her. all the nurses and the midwives were speculating on how big she was, but nobody was more shocked than me when she was weighed and found to be 10 pounds, 3 ounces! i felt like superwoman right after it was all over and i knew that i had done it, but finding out her actual size made me feel even more like some sort of super-human.

honestly though, it was so crazy and intense and i am thrilled that i had the chance to experience all of it. and if you ask me if i'd go natural again, i'll just smile at you and tell you that i don't have to answer that question because i don't have to go through it again. we are done, our family is complete and i am so thankful to God for the miracles that all 3 of my babies are.

~the end.

27 comments:

rachel joy said...

I'm so glad you got to experience a natural, "normal", delivery! I knew you could do it. But I bet you're glad you didn't know her size before deciding to go drug-free! Well done, Mama! Can't wait to read about how she turns that house of boys upside down!

kelly ens said...

Oh Heidi! Reading this brought tears of joy to my eyes. what a BEAUTIFUL birth story!!!! It sounds similar to my birth with Ezra, being natural, the size factor (except, Ava blew Ezra out of the water...WAY TO GO, lady!!!), and the horrible stitching.
but aside from the pain, isn't the sense of accomplishment from natural birth, SO incredible???
WELL done, Heidi! What I would haven't given to be there to photograph that beautiful birth :)

Kristal Sawyer said...

Wow, you are officially my hero! So happy for you! :)

Heather said...

Oh my goodness Heidi! You are awesome...I'm sitting here reading this and I'm not going to fib to you, i giggled a little thinking of you snarling. But I am so proud of you for doing it natural and for being so awesome and brave. And I also wanted to say thank you for affirming my decision to have drugs! Hugs to you and your sweet baby girl! xoxo

Miranda said...

You are awesome! I think its really wonderful that you got to choose to go through natural birth without drugs. You are so brave! :)

Claire said...

Congratulations on your beautiful girl and thanks for taking the time to share the beautiful, difficult and important story of her arrival :)

sedachfamily said...

Heidi,

You totally made me cry. :) I am so, so happy you got your wish of experiencing Ava's birth naturally and so proud of you! I know you are understandably completely wrapped up in the blessing these 3 little ones are to you, but don't forget the tremendous blessing you are to them.

Yvonne and Eric said...

Congratulations Heidi!!

Laura Railing said...

Ohh Heidi! You are such an inspiration. I so want our next birth to be natural. Your birth story is so realistic, and yet so refreshing too. Congratulations!!! Kiss that sweet girl for me!

Katherine said...

Congratulations! WOw, so happy for you guys to have a sweet new baby... and a girl! What fun! You are amazing! Good grief, 10lb 3oz, Really!? :)

Dena said...

heidi! you are officially my hero. so very proud of you!!! so excited for you guys and little ava. loved the story, thanks for sharing. xoxox, dena

Danielle said...

Congratulations on such a wonderful "wrap up" to your birthing journey. You ended it all on such a high! Enjoy your sweet baby girl. I'm sure she is a wonder!

Amy@Sassy Scarlett said...

What an awesome story, thank you for sharing it. You are amazing! Congratulations to you guys and welcome Miss Ava!

Anonymous said...

after 4 natural births, the last one only 3 ounces lighter than little Ava-- I usually joke that I plan on getting high as they will legally let me if I have another baby :)

Prayers for a quick recovery and a blessed transition into a family of five.

~Shannon

Affordable Baby Gear said...

Heidi, this is so cool. I am incredibly proud of you. I hope to be able to experience a natural birth in the future as well (epidural for transition and pushing due to exhaustion) and your story truly inspired me. I think the only difference is that I would have an episiotomy (sp?) like I did last time - one stitch, no tearing...sigh. Anyway, you did the supernatural and I loved reading about it. Sad to hear that you are done since your babies/kids are so gorgeous, but I GET IT. Looking forward to watching Ava grow through pictures and stories. Love Miriam
ps. Josh - you are a trooper dude. And good to hear you have matured past the "breast honk" of Tristan days ;)

Christy B. said...

I've been waiting for the birth story. I knew it would come once you were up for it. Thanks for sharing. I felt like I was right there with you. I'm so proud of you for going natural! Way to go! You have SUCH a beautiful daughter!

Christy :)

Drea said...

what a beautiful story! thanks so much for sharing and congratulations! awesome job!

Julie said...

Great job my friend! And you ARE super-woman :o)

Joshie's Sweetie said...

Tears in my eyes! You did awesome:)

Cara said...

Well done girly. I didn't mean to do a natural birth with my last one but drugs did not kick in on time so there i was in the same situation as you. definitely it's own experience. Congrats to you again. I look forward to hearing all about the differences you are finding out about raising a little girl. Much love.

Jessica said...

"It's Christmas morning!" Oh, I just love that you've taken the time to write out & remember every single moment of the journey to bring baby Ava HERE. You are incredible and I'm so blessed to call you friend.

Angela said...

WOW! Great description. I felt excited, then jealous, then afraid, then relief, and joy and most of all, so proud of you! Way to go... but I have to say, I think I may still choose the epidural next time too...

Sarafina said...

Congratulations again Heidi, you have a beautiful daughter!!! I totally identify with the -I can`t- moment...and then the amazing accomplishment of giving birth to a human being (especially a largish human being!) I remember the shock of having Mekaia weigh in at 11 lbs 14 oz, nearly 4 lbs bigger than Lesina before him! I love that you felt compelled to try natural labor. I did it with no.3 and 4 and I really valued being coherent and experiencing it all completely. Enjoy your little blessing, and I hope you get enough rest and recover quickly.

Sarah D said...

Wow Heidi, what an amazing birth story! It amazes me how everyone has a different experience even if they took a similar route!
So happy for you & your beautiful family of 5 :). How nice it must feel to know you're DONE!
Sarah

Z-Mama said...

Love, love, love it Heidi! You are awesome, I am so proud of you! Can't wait to meet that sweet blessing of yours!

villagegirl said...

Congratulations!! James told us over the weekend! Yay for healthy baby girls!
Love the name too. :)

Aimee said...

Wonderful wonderful wonderful. I love that you were able to write out all these details. What a gift to have them. Good job Heidi! I'm grateful with you that you were able to have an incredible natural birth. What a miracle of an experience to feel everything!!!!

Blessings on you 5!