Disclaimer: This is a birth story. One in which certain terms will be used and details given in the hopes to give a complete and accurate picture of my experience. Please read at your own discretion.
If you missed the first part of Samuel’s birth story you can read it by clicking here.
When we arrived at the birth center contractions were about 2 minutes apart and literally coming one on top of the other. Back labor was also something that I began experiencing that I simply did not expect or prepare for.
What is back labor? For me, it was an intense pressure and throbbing that took over my entire back that only counterpressure applied with the force of a mack truck could help make it subside even a single degree. Truthfully, the contractions in the front were nothing compared to the intensity of what my back had to offer. The back labor did not subside between contractions. It was ever present and many times took my breath away.
For the regular contractions, abdominal breathing and allowing my entire body to go limp with each contraction helped with the pain – often eliminating it altogether. Soon the birthing tub was full and once immersed in the water the contractions became much more mild. The water helped me get into a rhythm of relaxing. Unfortunately, the back labor did not seem to be phased by the warmth that my front side was enjoying so much. The only comfortable position was leaned over the side of the tub while Mark applied counter pressure to my back.
It was a glorious feeling when I was able to take my mind off the pain and allow myself to focus on my baby’s body moving further and further down. What a sensation when I felt him turn over entirely. It was encouraging to feel his each movement because I knew that we were moving closer and closer to seeing his beautiful face. Of course, I wouldn’t have long to feel him as another contraction would flood my mind requiring my full attention yet again.
It wasn’t long until I felt the urge to push. I remember doing a little tester push to see if it made it all feel better or worse. When it definitely felt better to push than to not push, I knew it was time to begin the pushing phase. I asked if it was ok if I started pushing and got the go ahead from both Mark and Lisa. It was so neat to know that I knew exactly what to do. God truly has designed a wonderful process. I loved knowing that God created me and this process to work just this way precisely.
From this point forward, the details get much more blurry, as I entered what is known as transition.
Transition is the hardest part of labor. It’s the point when the woman generally wants to give up and when most epidurals are asked for. I now understand the temptation for an epidural. Thankfully, the thought never crossed my mind to ask for any pain medication. In all honesty, I do remember saying, ”I can’t do this. I know I can’t do this.” However, our Bradley Class fully prepared us for these comments. Even as I said the words, I knew it wouldn’t be long before we met our baby boy. We were truly at the end.
After several pushes, Lisa decided to check me with the next contraction. She wanted to be sure I was fully dilated and thinned out. Since my water had not yet broken, she had a feeling that our pushing wasn’t getting us very far. Once she checked, we discovered that the bag of waters was in tact and not allowing the baby to descend down with each push. She gave us the option to break my water and we graciously agreed.
Unfortunately, for her to break my water, I had to be removed from the tub and moved to the bed. We had to wait for the next contraction. I will never forget this particular contraction. I was forced to lay on my back and try to relax through the contraction. My friends, laying on your back while laboring is painful! I was overwhelmed by the difference and was begging to get back in the water or at least get back on all fours.
After my water was broken, things progressed very, very quickly. I moved to all fours in the tub. Mark was rubbing my back with each contraction while I held tight to my mother’s hands.
I think it is safe to say that I could not have done it without their help. I was ever so grateful to have them both with me coaching and helping me stay focused and hopeful that it would soon all be over. I am a firm believer that a woman can do anything without medicine if she has a good support team. Mom and Mark were the perfect pair for me. I know Mom found strength in her that she didn’t know existed as well. Additionally, Lisa guided me wonderfully through the whole process and informed me that grunts and even yells are beneficial for helping push baby down. I confess – I took her advice and got in touch with my primitive side.
At this point, I remember the contractions were coming one on top of the other. I was pushing with all my might each and every time. I was not prepared for this sort of pushing phase. I had been told it was more likely that I would have several minutes between pushes to rest adequately, especially since this was my first. However, this was not the case. They flooded in one on top of the other and even seemed that a new contraction was starting before the one before had fully finished what it was trying to accomplish. It was at this point that I felt the need to throw up, which I continued to do several times.
This was the most intense part of the entire labor, which is why I think throwing up was inevitable. I did get to reach down somewhere around this point and feel Samuel’s head. It was not something I thought I would want to do, but since the option presented itself, and I needed to know that I was almost done, I embraced the moment. Mark was also primed and ready to catch baby boy when he came out. I was excited that Mark decided this was something he would want to do. Unfortunately, this isn’t the way it worked out.
Once I began throwing up, I found it hard to breathe. They were also checking Samuel’s heartbeat every so often. Toward the end, his heart beat began to drop. I was put on oxygen to help me breathe, and given a few more pushes to try to push him on out. But when Samuel’s heart beat got down to 85 (140 was his normal), I had to move from the tub to the bed. Yes, my friends, Samuel was crowning when I had to move. I will let your imagination and reasoning figure this out on your own. I don’t need to write about it so as to remember it. Let’s just say – this.was.not.fun.at.all. Mark and Mom carried me to the bed, and I was instructed to get on all fours.
I was so impressed by our midwife and nurse’s efficiency and care during this time. They were calm, professional, and ever so encouraging. I never once became concerned even though it was a situation that could have elicited much fear. I remember just thinking on the scripture that God never leaves us or forsakes us and that He never gives us more than we can handle. Once on all fours, it was only a few more pushes and baby boy popped right on out.
He was immediately whisked away to be put on oxygen and checked out. Since he was taken to another room, Mark went with him as was planned. My mom stayed with me, and I remember saying, “It’s over. It’s really over. He’s out isn’t he, Mama?” She said, “Yes baby he is.” And then we heard him cry. What a sweet sound that was. He checked out perfectly and was handed to Mark to bring to me.
Samuel was born at 4:35 am on Wednesday, January 12th. He weighed 6 lbs 12 ounces and was 20 1/4 inches long. He was a healthy and alert baby boy who seemed very glad to be out in the new world.
To sum it all up, I was in first stage labor for 7 days. Active labor for 5 hours. He was born 3 hours after arriving at the birth center. We were able to go home before lunch on Wednesday, which was less than 12 hours after active labor began. It was wonderful being able to recover in my own bed and in the comforts of my own home. I am so grateful for our experience, and although it didn’t go exactly as we planned, it went exactly how the Lord had planned and it was wonderful.
If and when I do this again, I might opt to deliver outside the tub again. Truthfully, I felt as though I was much more effective on all fours and felt much more in control of the pushes. The water was wonderful for eliminating some of the pain, but in the end, I think pushing on all fours on a bed was more effective for me. Oh, and I didn’t tear at all, which was such a blessing. Since it all happened so quickly, we were afraid this was something that would happen. But Lisa was wonderful and guided the process with perfection.
And with that, friends, we are a family of 3 …