Our little Josiah is here and I couldn't have asked for a more peaceful or more perfect entrance for him into this world. I am filled with joy and gratitude for the blessing of our perfect delivery. In Spanish to give birth is "dar luz" which translated directly means "to give light." I cannot think of a better way to describe the miracle of birth.
Most people thought I was pretty crazy when I told them I was planning on having Josiah naturally. Although they also thought we were crazy for not finding out the gender until he was born, but it made the pregnancy a fun mystery and made the moment of his birth even more amazing. I highly recommend it. As for the natural delivery, I realize it is not for everyone but it is for me. It is important to me and since natural birth is such a mystery to so many people I would like to explain what it means to me and how I was able to have a very peaceful and calm birth--naturally.
Anyone who knows me knows that I was a pretty miserable pregnant lady so it's not like I have an incredibly high tolerance for pain. What I did have was a lot of preparation, loving support from my husband, and an awesome doula, midwife, nurse and supportive hospital. As well as a belief in my own power and an ability to surrender and trust in my amazing body which my heavenly father gave me and a complete knowledge that my body could do it--I just needed to let it.
The main preparation for my natural birth was hypnobabies which, as my neighbor put it, is basically "brain washing" oneself into believing labor is easy until you believe it. Which is sort of true but there is really so much more to it. I am a bit of a birth "junkie" so I also read a lot of birthing books including Hypnobirthing: The Mongan Method, and Natural Hospital Birth: The Best of Both Worlds. These books, as well as my hypnobabies training taught me a lot of things about birth, but most importantly they taught me that birth, in the absence of fear, does not need to be painful.
I'm not going to lie, natural birth is certainly not comfortable. It is intense and powerful and extreme, but it does not need to be the experience of dreaded pain and fear that our society has attached to it. I did not feel pain as I was laboring, not like I did with Noah and Kayla. I was able to stay so completely calm throughout my entire labor that no one even knew I was going through transition and everyone was shocked when they finally checked me and I was at a 9 and a 1/2! And the main reason for this is that I was stronger than my fear. I did not let my fear overcome me, because I knew from my research that when a birthing mother has fear she tenses up her muscles which makes it harder for them to work their magic. I am not the one to describe the science behind the uterus contracting but apparently there are different sets of muscles that the uterus uses--ones to stop labor and ones to keep labor going and when there is fear the muscles that stop labor start working and if those are working against the muscles that are trying to keep it going that is what causes pain. Having birthed Kayla naturally I can attest to this fact. While I was able to have her naturally it was certainly not without pain, and I truly believe it was because even though I was prepared I was still very much afraid. I didn't know what was coming and instead of working with each contraction as I have since learned with Josiah I was working against them--trying to escape them. I remember that when I was going through transition with Kayla all I wanted Jona to do was to pull me and stretch me, and it was my way of trying to run away from the pain. I was bracing myself against each contraction instead of surrendering myself to them.
And I suppose all of that does not really explain why I choose natural birth, and to explain that I would probably need to do some kind of internal exploration of my belief system and that would just be difficult and probably boring, so suffice it to say that I believe in Natural birth because I know that it is possible. And also because it makes the recovery so much easier, and because I wanted to avoid as many interventions as I could so that my baby and I could have as peaceful and healthy of a delivery as possible.
Soooo onto the actual birth story (if there are any of you still here.)
It started out with weeks of miserable false labor. The thing with the last weeks of pregnancy is that you feel like a walking time bomb (which is manifesting itself as a large bowling ball pressing down on your lady parts.) So when you start to feel contractions you feel happy and excited because GOSH DARN IT you are finally going to give birth to the adorable parasite that has been basically sucking the life out of you for the past 9 months (and I mean that in the most loving way possible.) So when my contractions came and went for weeks I was starting to get pretty miserable. (Just ask my poor husband who had to deal with my numerous nervous break-downs.) But as miserable as all the "false labor" contractions were, it was really probably a blessing because I went in for my 39 week appointment on May 23rd and when my midwife checked me I was already at a 3.5 to a 4. So all those contractions were really doing something!
Later that day my contractions started up again at around 4:00 but I tried to not think much of it because that had been the pattern for the past couple of days. I went on cooking dinner and doing my normal routine. Around 7:00 they had not stopped and were actually getting stronger and probably closer together (although I wasn't sure because I pretty much refused to time them since every other time I had started timing them they had stopped.) So I texted my lovely Doula Amy Dall. (At this point I really felt like the girl who cried "labor" so my text probably didn't sound all that confident.) Then at about 8:30 I had a sudden extra strong contraction and a gush of fluid. I totally thought my water had broken but when we got to the hospital and they checked me we found out that it hadn't. (We won't talk about the possible alternatives of what that "fluid" might have been.) ;)
Sooooo after the supposed "water breaking" things really started to pick up. We called my parents and had them come get the kids. I also got a blessing from Jona and my brother, which allowed for some comic relief because I was trying to tell Jona what he should say before he gave it to me. Good thing he's so patient.
We debated staying at home for longer after that but in the end I decided to just head over to the hospital because I knew they would want to monitor me for a while and ask me all kinds of questions and I didn't want that happening when I was too far along. We got there around 9:30. They checked me and I was at a 5 and a 1/2. Amy, our Doula joined us and we met my AMAZING nurse Michelle. She told me I could change into my own clothes if I wanted so I took the horrible gown off and got back into my comfortable clothes. We dimmed all the lights and got out my "birthing rug" which was a very soft white rug I found to help me focus on staying in my "special place."
At this point I started to feel a little bit of fear creeping in because things were already getting intense and I was remembering going through "transition" with Kayla and I was scared to reach that point so I turned on my hypnobabies birthing day affirmations and was able to draw a lot of strength from their powerful messages and remember that I could do this. I spent most of the time kneeling on my rug and leaning against the couch, letting my whole body go limp with each contraction as Jona and my Doula would rub my back and offer me encouragement.
Then we got into the tub for a while and it really felt amazing. Jona spend the entire time (over an hour!) quietly soothing me with his own hypnotic script he just made up as he went along, talking about my "special place" and other relaxing words and descriptions. All the while he and Amy were rubbing my hands and arms as I sunk into the tub. It was really nice but after a while I decided to get out because I felt like the contractions were slowing down. I'm not sure if that was true or not, I might just have not noticed them as much because I was so relaxed but I really wanted the labor to finish as quickly as possible. I did think I may have been going through transition at this point because I was so shaky and I remember that happeneing with Kayla. So we got out, walked around the room and rubbed clary sage on my belly. It wasn't very long before I felt things get more intense. I felt like the contractions were coming very quickly now. We got out the birth ball and draped a towel across it. I kneeled on my rug and leaned over the ball. This was the point where I was in the deepest hypnosis. I don't think I ever opened my eyes. Every time I had a contraction I let my whole body go limp and focused my energy on "opening and opening" telling myself over and over that it was "easy" and that each contraction was getting more and more wonderfully powerful and I was getting closer to seeing my baby. Each contraction was like a wave that I would ride to its peak and as I rode it I would tell myself that it was "almost over, almost over."
My awesome midwife, Eve Blair, spend a lot of time in the room with me, but was mostly just watching because Amy and Jona were taking such good care of me. I guess it was around this time that Jona went out to the hall for a snack and he and Eve talked for a bit. She told him that it was hard to tell if I was even in active labor because I was staying so calm. I thought they could tell when I was having a contraction because I felt like my breathing got a lot louder but apparently they had no clue. They thought it might be HOURS before the baby was born, so when Jona came back in he really wanted to just take a little nap because he was feeling so exhausted. I am amazed that I was able to even notice him and how he was feeling at this point (because at this point with Kayla I could not talk or hardly even think) but I told him that it was fine and that he should take a nap. I had Amy, and even I didn't really know how far along I was. But a few minutes later Eve came in and asked if I was feeling any pressure and I told her that yes I was. She asked if I wanted her to check me. I hadn't been checked since we got there. I told her I wanted her to check me because I wanted to find out I was complete and have it be done, but I knew that it might not be the case so we talked about breaking my water. She said it would make things more intense but that it would speed things up. I decided I would rather have it faster and more intense than easier and drag on so it was decided she would check me and then break my waters. Jona heard this and decided he wasn't getting a nap after all.
I climbed up on the bed and she checked me. I was at a 9 and a 1/2! She broke my waters, his head came down and I started pushing. With Kayla I really enjoyed the pushing stage because I felt the contractions transform from being painful to being productive. I felt my body just completely take over and basically push her out on its own and that felt really amazing. With Josiah I didn't feel that release, I actually didn't even feel contractions at ALL once I started pushing so it was very different. Mostly I just felt pressure and a need to push. I think I pushed for around 7 minutes. Mostly I pushed when I felt like I needed to, but Eve also directed me a little.
Out he came at 1:46 AM, I barely tore at all, and they placed his amazing body right up on my stomach. He couldn't reach all the way to my chest because we wanted to cord to stop pulsing before we cut it. Ohhhh that feeling. Words cannot describe. He was so perfect and I had done it! We just stared at each other for the longest time, Jona said that I was just lost. I talked to him and loved on him. Eve and Michelle were wonderful. They let me stay with him for over an hour, skin to skin. I felt such an immediate and intense bond with him. It is the best feeling in the world, holding that new perfect being. It felt very surreal because I really couldn't believe he was already here and that the labor was over. I was pretty proud of myself for staying so calm and I couldn't believe how perfectly everything had gone and how amazing everyone had been to me. It was bliss!