When my second pregnancy ended in a failed external cephalic version and a C-section a few hours later, I did experience a few moments of disappointment. My first birth experience had been so powerful and such a special memory for my husband and myself and I was really hoping to have that again. I knew my midwife and doctor had done everything they could, though, and I trusted them 100%, so the disappointment faded quickly. It did leave me wondering if I would ever get the birth experience I longed for again.
Fast forward two years and I was about to give birth to our third baby boy. He had been much more cooperative than his brother and stayed head down through my entire pregnancy. My midwife told me early on that I would be a good candidate for a VBAC, so I went into my final weeks of pregnancy feeling confident that I would be supported and we would only opt for a C-section if absolutely necessary.
My due date came and went and I felt like I was never going to go into labor! Finally, at 1:30am at exactly 41 weeks, I woke up to a small gush of fluid. I thought it was a dream at first until I saw that I needed to change clothes.
I almost immediately started to feel crampy and was hopeful this was finally it! I called my midwife and she advised me to rest because labor usually starts within 24 hours of your water breaking. She also said I should labor at home as long as possible because she knew I was wanting to avoid interventions if at all possible.
I told my husband I was pretty sure labor was starting and we tried to go back to sleep. I was too excited to sleep so I just read my book in bed instead (French Exit, highly recommended). I called my mom over to sleep at our house in case we needed to leave for the hospital before our other kids woke up and then I had a snack because I knew it might be a while before I ate anything again.
It wasn’t long before contractions started and I had to close my eyes and breathe through each one. I was so nervous about going to the hospital too soon (or too late!), so I timed my contractions and didn’t wake Kevin up until they were about four or five minutes apart. I finally told him I thought it was time to go to the hospital.
We drove the short ten minutes to the hospital about 4:30 am, but when we arrived at labor and delivery there was nobody at the desk. We waited and waited until finally another employee went in to find someone. When the nurse did come back, we just kind of looked at each other for a minute. I finally said, “I’m in labor” and we all laughed a little because I guess I expected her to know why we were there.
We got settled into our triage room and had the sweetest nurse. She confirmed that my water did have a high leak and I was already 6 cm dilated so they moved me to a labor and delivery room. Kevin got some music going for us and once I was hooked up to the wireless monitors I was able to get out of bed and walk around the room.
For the next four hours, I alternated between standing up, walking, leaning on the bed, getting on all fours on the bed, and bouncing on the birthing ball. Through each contraction I just closed my eyes and turned inward. I was very quiet at first, but eventually I felt I had to quietly moan through contractions. As each contraction approached, I would find Kevin and either squeeze his hand or he would apply counter pressure to my low back. We were both so tired from being up all night that I eventually reclined on the bed and we held hands and slept between contractions. Neither of us could keep our eyes open!
Our nurse and midwife kept checking on us and making sure the baby’s heart rate was looking good. I had been watching the monitors a lot, too, because I knew that if the baby’s heart rate dropped we would be moving towards a C-section. Once we’d been there for a while and everything looked fine, though, I began to worry less.
Eventually we got a new nurse and midwife because the day shift started. We ended up with the same midwife who had delivered my first son. My contractions were becoming very painful, especially in the front of my thighs. I do not remember having that feeling before and it was really tough to work through. I kept feeling like I needed to push, but every time they checked me I was still only 9 cm dilated.
After a while without progressing much, the nurse suggested that she had a few positions she wanted me to try. She thought maybe his head needed to turn just a little so I could progress that last little bit. Well, it worked, I was lying on the bed and she turned me all the way to one side and threw my top leg over the side of the bed.Almost immediately my water broke and things got intense fast! She wanted to move me to the other side, but it took me a few minutes to work up the energy (and courage) to try it. My contractions were so strong now.
As soon as I turned to the other side I knew it was time to push. I grabbed the side of the bed with both hands and Kevin held his hands over mine. My midwife coached me through pushing, while really helped give me something to focus on. After a few minutes she told me the ears were almost out and I knew I was about to meet my baby!
Each push was much more painful and intense than I remember with Avery. It felt like it took all the energy I had and I was definitely not quiet anymore! With each push I screamed louder than I think I ever have. I started to cry, partially because I was so ready to meet my baby, but also because I knew there was no turning back and I had to see this through until the end.
Just a few more pushes and my baby boy was finally here! He cried a bit, but he calmed down when they placed him on my chest. We had chosen a name before he was born, but I wasn’t ready to commit until I saw him. As soon as I saw him, I knew he was my little Holland Arcane Price.
He was so perfect and calm and just laid there with me while they cleaned him up a bit and Kevin cut the cord. Everyone was commenting on how big he was and they told me now they could see why I was in so much pain. When they finally weighed him after some skin to skin time, he was 9 lb 11 oz and 22’’ long—my biggest baby yet!
People often ask why I choose natural birth. It isn’t because I think any one way of giving birth is better than any other. For me, it just always felt like something I trusted my body to be able to do. I never felt like I couldn’t handle what was happening and it made me feel connected to all the women who had walked this path before me. It felt like something my baby and I were meant to do together, just the two of us. It is a miraculous feat, and the first of a lifetime of challenges you and your child will experience together. Sometimes I will need to be there for Holland, and sometimes he will need to be there for me, but we will always be there for each other.