As parents, Clint and I felt a great deal of responsibility in carrying and delivering a new child into this world. This is why we (well mostly me) decided to birth naturally-it was our feeling that birth is a natural process and working with my body would be the best thing for our new little boy. Beginning the first week of January we participated in a HypnoBirthing course that taught us how to use breathing, deep relaxation, and imagery to surrender to contractions and trust that my body and our baby would conduct labor as they were designed to do. More than anything, HypnoBirthing helped me build confidence in my body and eliminated my fear of pain during labor. I'm sure this all sounds lovely on paper, but seriously, Liam's birth was a textbook HypnoBirth experience...we feel very blessed.
At 2:30 PM on March 9, 2012 my water broke. I was in the middle of watching Pride and Prejudice-trying to elevate my swollen feet-when I had the frequent urge to pee. I got up, went pee, sat down, and gush! Immediately I knew it was my water breaking, which is very rare for first time moms, but there was no doubt when the fluid that leaked through 3 layers of clothes and a blanket I made for Clint for Christmas. First, I called Clint, who didn't answer, and then I called my mom, who couldn’t believe I was going into labor already-my due date was the 19th. Next I called our midwife-Jen-who was thrilled. Then I called Clint again (didn't answer) and again (finally he stopped his meeting to answer).
"Um...my water just broke," I said.
"Are you sure?" he asked.
"Yep...it soaked through my pants and your Christmas blanket. It was a substantial amount of fluid."
"Cool...okay well let me finish a few things up at work and I'll head home."
"Okay, love you bye."
We are pretty calm and collected right? :)
Next, like the good little HypnoBirthing student I was, I got into a giant bath and listened to two hypno scripts (Liam loves the sound of Marie Mongan's voice). Clint got home around 4:30 PM and I was just finishing up my last script. While bathing, contractions were mild and about 15 to 30 minutes apart. As first-time parents we were prepared to labor at home for several hours before going to the hospital. Like nesting birds nest, we calmly went about finishing up packing for the hospital. And then by 5:00 my contractions were 4 minutes apart. This was moving much faster than predicted.
(Note...one thing I was not expecting during labor: when you relax during a contraction you also loose all control of your bladder. Needless to say, I had to sprint to the toilet for each contraction).
With four maxi pads on (for the pee :)) and an empty car seat we were off to the hospital! We got there at 6:00 PM and when we arrived Clint asked if he should drop me off at the front.
"No I can walk." I am really tough ;).
Straight to the elevators-where I had a tremendous contraction and literally filled my Uggs with pee (another spectacular detail for you)-and up to labor and delivery. The nurses were skeptical of my quick progression but when I indicated I just wet my pants they gladly showed me to my delivery room. Waddling as fast as I could I barely got to the bed before the next contraction began. With HypnoBirthing, the idea is to achieve total relaxation during contractions so that each surge is more efficient and you have less pain because you are not fighting against your body. This totally works.
After changing I labored in the hospital bed for an hour. I was dilated to 6 centimeters and 100% effaced! Doni, my awesome nurse, was trying to get me checked in but she had to wait during surges...after doing this for an hour Clint answered the rest of her questions :). Contractions were becoming quite intense but I remained calm through each. This I owe greatly to Clint, who was seriously the world's best doula. He stood by my side through the whole labor reminding me to "relax your face, relax your eyes, and feel your baby coming to you." He really listened in those child-birth classes! Midwife Jen arrived around 7:00 PM. This is when I had the sudden urge to bathe. Off with the gown and into the tub I went. Clint's voice continued to be my anchor. He poured hot water over my belly during each contraction, which was an amazing painkiller, and the contractions progressed in frequency and intensity. They were so intense that I was moaning through each surge. If you can bring yourself to a place of trust and comfort with your body I would highly recommend deep moans through contractions. It was a miracle laboring technique. By 8:30 PM, Jen told me I was dilated to 8.5 centimeters! I felt we were close, but it also felt like I had only been in the hospital for 5 minutes.
Without much conversation I decided it was time to get out of the tub, leaning on Clint during several standing contractions, we finally made it. Laboring on my left side, surges began to come without rest in between. I could feel my body progressing quickly. At 9:00 PM I was dilated to 9.5 centimeters and switched to laboring on all fours. This did not help-I felt like I didn't have the support of the bed on my uterus during surges. Jen suggested I lay on my right side to help dilate to a 10. She also said if I get the urge to push, listen to my body and push. Within minutes I was a 10 and both Jen and Clint could feel little Liam's head. During this transitional part of labor I felt overwhelmed by the intensity of contractions. There was no break in between and I remember thinking to myself, I'm done. I didn't feel done in the sense that I wanted pain medications. I felt done with labor because I knew I was close-I literally felt like I was almost done. With one leg on Clint's shoulder (not typical-but effective :)) I began to push hard with contractions at 9:30 PM. Then I began to push in spurts between contractions. I was crowning! Midwife Jen helped Clint prepare to catch Liam (got him gloves...told him how to place his hands...you know, important details) and nurse Dori took over leg-holding duty. Moaning ("like a cow delivering a calf" as Clint puts it) I pushed Liam's cone head into the world. With great force, that freaked Clint out a bit, he pulled the rest of Liam's body out while Jen helped from my side. At 10:02 on March 9, 2012 Liam was born a healthy pink baby! He began to cry immediately like a good baby...which makes sense because he was a good pregnancy and a good labor and a good delivery...lets hope he keeps it up! Liam was 19" long and weighed 6 pounds 15 ounces.
When people say that you never really understand a charity type of love until you have a child, they are understating the truth. The kind of love you feel after delivering a child can't fit into any words. All I could think was, he is perfection. And he is. Natural childbirth has many advantages. For one, recovery has been quick and easy (the nurses got mad at me for getting up and going to the bathroom by myself after) (also, I didn’t tear, so I suppose that makes a huge difference). For two, you gain an amazing sense of confidence in and love for your body...you find an inner strength you never knew you had. But the best part of delivering naturally is feeling your baby coming to you every step of the way. The instinctual part of my being felt a deep connection to my baby, as if I knew when he was ready to come, ready for me to push, ready to be birthed. When I held him against my chest just seconds after he entered the world I said, "we did it". Liam, Clint, and I did it!