My Natural Birth Story

Monday, 22 April 2019

I remember being so anxious to see how my birth story would turn out. I so badly wanted to know how long labor would be, would it go to plan, or would this baby turn all my expectations upside down. I was determined to come away with a positive view on birth, especially since the entire world tells you it's going to be hell. I mean, it's not easy, but you totally got this. No matter if you used drugs or not, c-section or natural, bringing life into this world is hard and each mama is a champion. 

Because my Mum had planned c-sections with both me and my brother, I had no idea what to expect in labor or how early/late I might go. Although, I was planned two weeks out from my due date and the doctors had to actually pull me back out of the birth canal, so Clark being born at 38 weeks and 3 days, isn't so surprising after all. 

Clark James Asher came into the world on Friday the 22nd of March at 11.10am. 12 days early.
He is perfect and has fulfilled my life-long dream of being a mum. I feel like I have always known him and I can't tell you how excited I am to have all the adventures together with our family. 

He did arrive on the week I was planning all my baby prep, so I wouldn't have minded if he wanted to stay put a little longer. We didn't have our nursery done, or even the groceries. But I'm so grateful for the extra time we've had to spend with him. This is gonna be a heafty read, so grab a cup of your favorite beverage and get comfy. 

Cue the Fresh Prince of Bel Air theme song. 

So it all began about 5pm, Sunday the 17th of March. 

If you've been pregnant before, or are pregnant now, you might know what I mean when I say that I lost my plug. If you don't know, I ain't going into details because it's a little gross. But it's the body's way of letting you know that the baby will be ready to arrive within a few days or up to two weeks. It's a little scary getting a sign of early labor, especially since I had only just passed the 37 week mark. Scary, but super-exciting. 

Everything was normal the next morning and I even met my Mum for our usual 8km run. I did notice that I was having some back pain once we had stopped, but didn't think anything of it. Home for lunch and I felt some uncomfortable Braxton Hicks. These weren't out of the blue because I'd been having them for a month leading up to the birth. I just played it off as stronger pretend contractions while I ate. I should also note that I had zero appetite when I woke up that morning, and didn't until Clark made his entrance much later that week. Sign #3 that labor was soon to start. 

Around about 10pm, I was having to stop what I was doing and breathe through these contractions. That's when me and Steve thought, Ok this might be a thing let's start timing them. They got more and more frequent through the night, even getting close to three minutes apart and lasting over a minute long. I was having to flip onto all fours and sway my hips to tolerate the pain. Contractions really do feel like a wave. They would start in my lower back, then into my lower abdomen and slowly intensify. It was like someone was trying to saw me in half. There was no way I was going to be able to sleep with them coming on as they were. 

We called the midwife around midnight and she said to hop in the bath to chill (which I did at about 2am) and just hang out until morning when she would come check on us. I think Steve and I honestly believed we would be going to hospital that day. We had even started packing the hospital bags properly before we went to bed that night. But, alas! My contractions slowed down to about one every ten minutes apart by morning. I called in sick to work, just in case it was actual labor and the pain was still intense. Steve stayed home with me too. And I definitely needed the support. 

The midwife came about 10am. She gave me a check over and to my disappointment I wasn't in actual labor. She gave me a stretch and sweep to try help things along and we tried to have a chilled out day. We went for a walk to see if that would help too, even picked up some hot chips on the way because my appetite for anything was still not happening. The day continued on with contractions every ten minutes and they seemed to get more powerful. Sleep that night wasn't going to be easy. I was up out of bed every contraction to bounce on my swiss ball to help ease the pain. I even threw up at one point, I think because my body was staying under a lot of stress. 

Still no progress on the Wednesday and after telling my Mum how hard I was finding things she took the night off work to help me take my mind off it. We walked the dogs to a local coffee shop then went to go pick up my pram that was on layby. At least the little man's delay gave me a chance to get some last minute things ready! Mum even bought me some nice pajamas to take into hospital with me. And nursing bras which I had planned on buying later that week. Contractions while shopping is a weird experience, I pretty much just kept my body moving and breathing the best I could. 

Still no sleep Wednesday night either. These contractions weren't backing off, but they weren't progressing either. I was also experiencing mad shakes through my whole body that made relaxing through the pain almost impossible.

Day 3. Tired mama. Wearing Dad's pants because none of mine fit at this point.

By Thursday morning I was pretty much begging my midwife for any kind of help. I was exhausted and had been in pain for the fourth day in a row and living off of a few hours sleep since Monday. I knew I wasn't going to be in a good place mentally to give birth at this point, but my body was just doing what it had to do. We met my midwife at the hospital for a check up and I was praying it would go somewhere. She told me my cervix had softened and baby's head was super-low, but not in labor yet. Dammit. 

She gave me a prescription for pain killers and sleeping tablets to see if some rest would help, and god knows I needed it. We stocked up on some foods while we were out (veggie quiches and pineapple juice for me.) I ate and then hopped straight into bed where the sleeping pills managed to give me a break from the contractions for a while. I slept all afternoon and had hoped the pain meds would let me get some rest at night too. And they did, I could breathe through the contractions without having to get out of bed every time one came. 

Until about 4 am. 

Steve got up to get me another round of pain killers, but this time they did nothing to stop the contractions. I was ready to ask him to get more, but knew it could be dangerous for the baby. I had to get up and have a bath, then sway on my swiss ball for hours. I didn't know it, but this was my actual labor starting. I had also started to feel super (TMI) constipated, which is what I thought was making the pain worse. I was doing everything to try help it: I drank coffee, gut-health tea, and even nibbled on grain toast whilst watching Queer Eye on Netflix. Looking back I am so happy to have been unaware that this was a major sign of labor. It made me stay a little calmer than if I'd known things had progressed a lot. I was also crying out in pain, which was my second clue things had picked up. 

At about 9am, whist conveniently on the toilet, my water broke. 

It pretty much came shooting out and I knew what it was straight away. I yelled for Steve (who was still in bed) to call the midwife. The next ninety minutes passed by incredibly quickly. After getting off the phone Steve hopped in the shower, but within minutes I was banging on the door because my body was already trying to push the baby out. It's the most crazy feeling by the way. I will forever say that the most powerful muscles in the female body is the uterus. There's no stopping baby coming out with the amount of power in those pushes. 

Steve helped me onto the bed, where I remember the pushing contractions kept coming. Steve tried to get the car packed quickly while I sat there screaming. He called the midwife again to say that we were going straight to the hospital. I remember yelling at him when he went to brush his teeth because this baby was coming fast! I carefully slipped on some shorts, sandals and got into the car really slowly. I had my head down the whole drive, but I could tell Steve was trying to avoid any bumps in the road. My body was still pushing, and my screaming had turned into that primal grunting some women do in movies. 

When we got to the hospital Steve parked right out front of reception and ran to get me a wheelchair. A nurse came to help me out of the car and whisked us away to the birthing suite. I have a memory of being in the lift doing my labor grunting and her telling me I was doing so well. Thank goodness the birthing center we went to was quiet, because I don't think they were expecting me to be so far into my labor when we arrived. They got me standing over the bed swaying my hips to deal with the contractions. Thank goodness Steve had my back because there was no way I could talk much at this point. He got them filling the bath for me and made sure they knew parts of my birth plan. I had wanted a water-birth and knew it would help. In the time it took for them to fill it and for me to hop in, the student midwife had arrived. The poor thing must have been petrified seeing that I was already pushing and my midwife wasn't there yet. But she got there in time and helped monitor the baby's heartbeat while I was in the water. I was gripping Steve's hand pretty tight through the pressure, which is what it felt like at this point rather than pain. But on man did the water help! I was starting to feel his head crowning and I'm pretty sure I asked them to just pull him out. After four days of no sleep I was giving birth on very limited energy. 

It had been about 45 minutes in the bath when baby's heartbeat dropped to a dangerously low 90. My midwife told me that I needed to get out and onto the bed. And quick. Steve and another assistant midwife helped me walk back slowly. My biggest fear was that they would make me give birth on my back, which I knew would make the birth so much harder (despite everyone on TV doing it this way.) So I got on all fours, with my forearms resting on the head of the bed. Thankfully I had Steve keeping me strong because they told me I had to get him out in the next few contractions. I think it took another three when they said his head was out and I needed to keep going. I could feel myself tearing a little now which petrified me. I think hopping in the bath for a while previously had helped prevent a lot more damage any way. I remember Steve telling me the shoulders would be the hardest part, but then he would be here. And sure enough he came out easy when (what felt like a pop) the shoulders and rest of my baby boy followed. 

What happened next was the scariest part. He wasn't crying like I expected and I heard my midwife say that they needed to cut the cord quick. She knew I wanted to do delayed cord clamping to make sure he got all the good stuff before it was cut, so I knew something was up. I asked if he was okay and they all said he was a good color, masking any worries they had. I looked over to where they had him on the table, the tiny thing with one of those breathing masks on. We learned later on that he was dazed from such a fast labor (90 mins for when my water broke til birth) he also had some liquid in his lungs and the umbilical cord around his neck. But within five breaths he was all good to go on his own. My little champ.

Not having that emotional first meeting still makes me sad. I had read about it in so many birth stories and wanted that moment with my son badly. But his health will always be the most important thing and I'm just so happy that things all turned out okay. Eventually we got our cuddles with that little boy and it was still a crazy moment. Steve and I had that exchange of "OMG we are parents and he's perfect!" It really is crazy to have a bump one minute and an actual little human the next. 

We waited a while to see if my placenta would pulse out, and when it didn't I had to pass it over the toilet. I was never sure how this experience would be, but it wasn't that bad at all! I had definitely just been through worse. We could actually hear someone else down the hall giving birth and she was making the same noises I was. I really wanted to go cheer her on because I knew then it was over quicker than you think. My parents had arrived at this point and were gushing over their grandson. He's the first on both sides, so his birth is a big deal for both our families. 

I got back on the bed and Steve had some skin-to-skin time with Clark while they stitched me up. Luckily it was only second degree tearing and hasn't been hard to heal up at all. They gave me gas to suck on while they worked and WOW that stuff was good. If I'd had a tank of that stuff at home my pre-labor would have been so much easier! I was super spaced out and enjoyed feeling relaxed for the first time all week.  I had some apple juice and remember it tasting so good. I felt normal for the first time in a long time. 
When they were done my midwife suggested I have a shower, which did sound good. But when I got up I felt a gush of something, blood and a lot of it as I found out. My midwife got me straight back onto bed and began pushing on my uterus to see how much would come out. Nobody tells you about that when you're pregnant, they have to make sure it's all shrinking back properly and can be a little painful when they push on your now empty bump. Mine had moved to the left and I was losing a lot of blood, so before I knew it I was back on the gas and there was a flurry of people in the room. Thankfully my midwife stayed calm, so I had no idea that it was actually quite serious. They worked for a while as I got high on the gas again. When they were done my midwife finally put her guard down and said it was a close one, they almost had to rush me to the main hospital, where I desperately didn't want to go (too many people I work with/they shove you out in a matter of hours.)  I am so thankful to have had such an awesome team of midwives take care of me. They all told me I did an awesome job, but there's really nothing you can do but sit and let the professionals work. 

I got put on an IV drip and we were finally able to all chill out as a family. They even brought us both food, which was actually really good and I looked forward to meal times my entire stay in the hospital. They had the BEST tomato soup I may have ever had. I spent 3 nights in hospital with Steve and Clark so that we could get the hang of feeding, but I'll save that for a whole other post.

I'm so proud that I did it completely natural, although there was no time for medication anyway! They never even checked that I was dilated. I will forever be in awe of the female body and what it was designed to do. It's not until you think about it deeply that you understand what they mean when they say all life is a miracle. To have seen my son at a four week scan, only the size of a poppy seed to now when he stares at me with those big blue eyes is just mind-blowing. 

I wouldn't change my journey for anything and I'd do it all over again in a heartbeat. No matter how it happened for you (c-section, epidural, in the car etc.) I have so much respect for any mamas that go on this journey. And to anyone dreaming of being a mum some day, do it! At the right time with the right partner it's honestly the best thing I have ever done. 

Please send me a link to any of your birth stories, because I love reading them! 

Steph x.