My journey into the natural world began 3.5 years ago. I was pregnant with my first baby and had grandiose plans for her, and her birth. About five years before, my very good friend had given birth to her baby without pain medicine. I remember her story and remember thinking “Gosh, why would anyone want to do that?” I grew up in the 90s and all I knew about birth was that it hurt and you could get meds that made it not hurt. I knew people did it without pain medicine, as my mom had talked about how she didn’t have pain medicine when she birthed me and my brother. I found out later, that my best friend, who is significantly older than me, did it in the 90s without pain medicine. But, I digress.
During my pregnancy with my first, I talked to my friend a lot and did A LOT of research. I was determined then to have a natural birth. I asked my friend to be present in the delivery room with me to act as a pseudo-doula. Well, I started to dilate early with my first (and with my second, but we will get to that). My doctor at the time decided I needed to be induced at 39 weeks, 3 days. Yes, you read that right, my doctor DECIDED, not me nor my husband. I knew, the statistics of getting an epidural were high if I were to be induced. However, I thought with my friend there, I could do it. But, my friends, I could not. I did not. I was induced with Pitocin and when I hit transition, I got an epidural. I was then put on the back burner for delivery. I got an epidural at 3pm and wasn’t allowed to push until after 7:30pm!!!! But, at last, my daughter was born. We had some issues with breastfeeding and a tongue tie. So, I became an EPer, (Exclusive Pumper). I did this for 10 months and was able to store enough milk that my daughter had breastmilk until she was 14 months.
About a year and a half later, I was pregnant again. At first, I was just going to go with the flow. I stayed with the same practice, was probably going to have all the same interventions that I had with my daughter. While I was not okay with this, I felt powerless to change it. I mean, I had birthed a healthy baby, right? So, why reinvent the wheel?
This brings me to about 3 months left in my pregnancy, I started to research placenta encapsulation and I found a website called MamaNatural. I became obsessed with her site and all her stories about natural childbirth. This lead me to Google doulas in the Triad area. This is where I found Natural Baby Doulas. (Google is our best friend, right?) I emailed them on a SUNDAY. Jessica was very quick to reply and by Tuesday of that week, I was meeting with Christina. I met Christina at a bookstore coffee shop. I knew I was going to hire them before I met her. It was just a feeling. But Christina said something to me that set me on another path. She told me I COULD still change practices. Friends, I had 11 weeks left in my pregnancy (I think). But I went home, discussed it with my husband and did change practices. I chose Wendover OBGyn, because Christina recommended them AND they had midwives and doctors (the latter made my husband more comfortable).
My first appointment I had, I met with a midwife who is no longer there, Rolitta. I told her in my getting-to- know-you meet and greet, in her office, that I had dilated early with my daughter. Even though I was 31 weeks at that point and not on the timeline to be checked yet, she went ahead and checked me. It was a good thing she did. I was already 3 centimeters dilated, 80% effaced and my bag of water was bulging. That day, I went to the hospital. I was put on magnesium for 24 hours, and given two shots to stop the contractions. The next day Dr. Fogelman and Daniela put me on bedrest. (Oh, yeah, and Jessica and Sarah both came to visit me, and talked to me the whole time I was in the hospital to help me understand what was going on and how to better advocate for myself.)
Friends, I was on bed rest for a month. I had to go and see Dr. Fogelman every week, as they had taken me off the midwife rotation because I was high risk. During the time I was on bedrest, Christina, Sarah and Jessica were always in touch. Also, during this time, I decided I wanted to have a partial water birth. Meaning, I would have the tub there to help me labor. If you even think you may want to try this, DO IT. But more on that later. No baby came while I was on bedrest. After four weeks, once I hit the 36-week mark, Dr. Fogelman was comfortable taking me off of bedrest and sending me back to the midwives, as after 35 weeks, if the baby came early, he would not be in the NICU.
So, I met Tanya. And, man oh man, did I love her. I saw her every week for five weeks. Yes, you read that right, 5 weeks. Why 5 weeks? Well, my sweet little nugget decided to give us all a scare but stayed in until we had to go and get him. I continued to dilate, and efface and have contractions. I was basically in labor for two months. When Tanya decided to induce- but not induce with Pitocin but with Cytotec, given orally- I was 7 centimeters and over 90% effaced. They induced me around 8pm, and I guess around 2:30am things started to pick up. Around 4:00am, Tanya came in and broke my water, she did it when I was 10 centimeters, I believe.
I still labored for 3ish hours. It was hard. I didn’t think I could do it. Remember, the birthing tub, I talked about earlier? Yeah, it was my best friend, through transition and frankly, I would have stayed in it the whole time. But they couldn’t monitor the baby’s heart so they made me get out. <Sigh> Sadness.
So, I am out of the birthing tub and he’s stuck behind my pelvic bone and oh yeah, I really wanted drugs at this point. Well, instead of drugs, they told me to go and sit on the toilet. This is another great option for birthing, by the way. It worked wonders for me. After some time on the toilet, again I don’t know the time frame, they moved me back to the bed. I birthed my son on all fours. (Which if you read Ina May Gaskin’s book that Jessica suggests, you’ll learn this is a great positon for shoulder dystocia, which my son did have.)
Less than 12 hours after induction, but almost 12 weeks of labor, my son was born. He weighed a whooping 11.05lbs and was 22 inches long (No, I did not have gestational diabetes; big babies just run in my husband’s family.). He was twice the size of his sister and 3 inches longer and I had an epidural with her. I didn’t think I could do it and the whole latter part of the pregnancy was so long and such a guessing game. But I did it. I did it with the help of my husband, Jessica, Tanya and the labor and delivery nurses. Oh yeah, and the breastfeeding issues I had with my daughter, were non-existent for the most part with my son. I did seek out help to learn how to breastfeed with my son, and I did not with my daughter. My son will be one at the end of November and we are still nursing with no signs of stopping in the foreseeable future.
While I wish I had had the courage in myself to have an un-medicated birth with my daughter, I am happy I had both experiences. Having an un-medicated birth has given me confidence that I can do anything, even if I second guess myself. It has also taught me how to tune out people’s negative responses to “I want an un-medicated birth.” You know what I am talking about. People can be so rude, but you know what? I think that’s their fear talking. Their fear that they can’t or couldn’t do it. But you can do it. You are already heading in the right direction by having the Natural Baby Doulas, as your doulas. You’ve got this mama!