Where do I even begin. First of all, It’s hard to believe that our Piper has been here with us for over a week. Her birth feels like it was just yesterday, and I think back on it daily with such gratitude. I have always wanted to have a natural childbirth, as in receiving no pain medication. Whether c-section, epidural, induction, etc. I think that all birth stories are beautiful and wonderful. But for me, personally, I felt a deep passion for having a full experience of the whole childbirth process – pain, mystery, and all. I’ve always believed that it was something my body was capable of, and made to do, and that the pain of childbirth is a privilege, not something to be feared. We spent a few months preparing by reading up on a natural, med-free birth, watching documentaries, and taking the bradley method birthing class. Through this time, it became very clear that I needed to have an open mind. Birth does not always go as planned, and I needed to be prepared for whatever was to come as having a healthy baby was our top priority. I was also prepared to go past my due date, as this was our first baby and from what I hear, first babies are typically late. But, our little Piper girl had other plans in mind…
On Sunday, November 22, 3 days before my due date, I started noticing some weird back pain at church. I stood up to worship after sitting through the sermon and felt a deep tightness in my back. I sat back down and kind of shook it off, not thinking much of it. When we got home, the tightness was much worse, but wasn’t coming in waves – it was more of a consistent pain. I figured it might have had something to do with carrying a full term baby – back pain just comes with the territory. Now, looking back, I definitely think this was the start of my labor. Scofield massaged my back for a bit, and then left to go back to church about 3 pm. Since I wasn’t feeling well, I decided I would just lay on the couch and watch tv to take my mind off of the back pain. While I was laying there watching Friends, I felt like I peed my pants all of a sudden. I thought, “Oh dear, that’s weird,” and got up to go to the bathroom and assess the situation. Then, as soon as I stood up, my water broke completely! As I made my way to the bathroom, with a trail of water following behind me, all I could think was how thankful I was that I was home and that I didn’t find myself in a pool of amniotic fluid at church just a couple hours earlier.
I immediately called Scofield, who turned right around and came back home. We knew that once my water broke, we had to have a baby within 24 hours, as there was an increased risk of infection. Without having contractions, we knew there was the threat of induction, which we desperately wanted to avoid. Since my contractions hadn’t really started yet, we called our birthing class instructor for advice. She gave us some natural induction methods to get things going, but also informed us if contractions didn’t start within 8 hours, I had to go to the hospital anyway. We hung up the phone, and it wasn’t within ten minutes that contractions started. Scofield started timing them, and they were roughly 10 minutes apart and not very painful. Part of me wondered if they really were the real thing. Once again, first baby, so I thought we would have quite a while before contractions were strong enough and we really needed to get to the hospital. I mean, I have friends that have been in labor anywhere from 15-30 hours. I even told Scofield he could probably still go to church and give his talk at the youth program and then come home, ha. Thank goodness we decided against that.
Scofield started calling people and making arrangements to cover the youth program that night, and I started doing laundry and packing our hospital bag. We then realized that we hadn’t even printed our birth plan, and we didn’t have a printer. Scofield called our good friends Turner and Courtney who printed it for us and dropped it off. During all this time my contractions started to get stronger and stronger, where I would have to stop and brace myself with each one. Before we knew it they were five minutes apart, and then within a few contractions jumped to 4 minutes and then to 3 minutes apart and lasting 55-60 seconds. At this point it was about 5:45 and they had started to become extremely uncomfortable. Scofield looked at me and said, “I think we should go to the hospital.” For some reason I was still unsure and hesitant, and thought we should wait it out a little longer. Luckily, we didn’t, and Scofield got me in the car. I swear once we got in the car the intensity hit another level.
We got to the hospital and rushed to triage, where they slowly and calmly asked us, “How can we help you?” Scofield responded, “Well, we’re about to have a baby,” ha. We were a little confused by their lack of urgency because I was clearly in labor. They told me to put on a gown and get in the bed and they would come check how far along I was. At this point, the last thing I wanted to do was get in bed, so I worked through contractions leaning onto the bed while we waited what seemed like an eternity for them to come back to our room. They checked me and I was 5 cm, fully effaced, and people finally started moving quickly. By this point the contractions were so intense I started vomiting. As much as I hated it, we had learned that if you end up throwing up during labor it can increase your dilation, so I was good with that. They wheeled me back to L&D, where it was quiet as could be. My doctor met us in the hall, and we requested one of the birthing suites with a big tub. These rooms are reserved for midwife patients, but since it was so slow and no midwife patients were there having babies at the moment, she said that would be fine.
For a couple health reasons, we decided to go with an OBGYN practice instead of a midwife. While all the doctors assured me they were on board with a natural childbirth, it still made me nervous that I would be pressured into interventions that we weren’t comfortable with, especially since we also decided against hiring a doula. We had prayed about this day and that the right doctor would be on call to deliver, and it is amazing how the Lord provided for us. Our doctor read over our birth plan, and said none of what I was requesting would be a problem. She even said I was welcome to labor in the tub if that was helpful for me.
Once we got into the room, I had to get a round of antibiotics as I was GBS+. Between being dehydrated, freezing, and bearing down on my hands with each contraction, it took about 4 different sticks before they could get an IV in. I typically hate needles, but with so much else going on, it did not even phase me. All I could think about was getting in the warm tub. And, oh, that blessed tub! I’m really not sure if I could have gone through with our birth plan without the tub. Since the 95 degree water still wasn’t warm enough for me, they let me run the hot water to heat it even more and I just laid there and hugged the faucet. The nurses dimmed the lights, Scofield played worship music through his blue tooth speaker, and I went into another world mentally that I can’t even explain. It was definitely an out of body experience, working through those contractions. Scofield would whisper birth affirmations to me, which was so sweet. I told him the smell of his gum was making me nauseous and not to talk so close to my face. At one point the anesthesiologist came in and asked if I wanted an epidural and Scofield sent her away, but I don’t remember any of this. I do remember the nurse coming over and telling me that she was going to leave us alone unless we needed her. I then labored in the tub for probably 2 hours.
During this time, I started vomiting again and got pretty loud with each contraction. We laugh about it now, but Scofield says about 7 out of 10 words were calling on the name of Jesus, and the other 3 weren’t quite as nice ;). I also definitely asked for the epidural, maybe even yelled for it. Scofield encouraged me that I was doing awesome and he knew I could do it, but that if I wanted the epidural I could do that too. I wanted it, but I didn’t want it. I would say, “yes, please, I want it,” and then he would say “are you sure?”, and I would say “no.” This conversation continued on a couple of times. At one point the nurse came in and what she said put an end to the epidural conversation. She said if I really wanted the epidural, I would have to get out of the tub and get on the bed where they would need to give me fluids (I had refused any fluids through the IV), wait for the anesthesiologist, and then it would take a little while for the epidural to take effect. All I could think was, “there is no way I can get out of this tub.” I didn’t respond but just went back to focusing on my contractions and everyone took that as a ‘no’ to the epidural. The nurse then told Scofield to let her know if I felt the urge to push, and she would leave us be until then.
By about 8:45 I told Scofield I thought I felt the urge to push through a contraction. With my next contraction, I yelled “I definitely feel the urge to push!” Scofield buzzed the nurse and within moments the doctor and nurses were all in the room with us. It then took a few more contractions to get me out of the tub because I just didn’t want to move and leave the warm water. Finally, I agreed to get out and they moved me over to the bed where the doctor checked me. I don’t know if it was because I was no longer surrounded by the comfort of the warm water, or because I was in transition, but the intensity of each contraction moved to another level. I tried to relax and breathe, but all I could do was yell. I started begging them to let me push, but the doctor said my body wasn’t ready yet. I also begged to get back in the tub, which they wouldn’t let me do either. Within ten minutes I asked the doctor to check me again, because I knew I had to be making progress. I was 9 1/2 cm and they started getting everything ready. The doctor gowned up and a few more nurses came in. Within five more minutes she checked me again and I was 10 cm, and she said “it’s time to have your baby.”
The pushing was the easiest, yet most difficult part. The pain was deep, yet pushing somehow relieved it. I kept thinking “I can’t do this, I can’t do this.” But then would think “Okay, I’m doing this. I’m doing this.” Scofield was on one side, the nurse the other, and everyone cheered me on the whole time. In some ways, I really do feel like it was like what you see in the movies. I’m screaming and trying to breathe, and squeezing Scofield so hard that there were scratches and marks on him after it was all said and done. What was amazing is that between these contractions I experienced rest like I hadn’t up until this point. Before, there was always this constant, dull pain, but in between pushes I felt totally at peace. I was able to rest and close my eyes, and Scofield fed me ice chips. I was pretty dehydrated by this point and part of what kept me going was thinking, there’s water (and a baby!!) at the end of this, ha. 30 minutes after I started pushing our little girl was out and they laid her on my chest. She was born at 9:45 pm, 6 1/2 quick hours after I went into labor.
I think back on this day daily and feel like I am a changed woman after it. I am humbled and amazed at how the Lord blessed her delivery beyond anything we could have hoped or imagined. Between the doctor that delivered, the nurses that made sure my birth plan happened, and my amazing husband who encouraged me the whole time, the whole process could not have gone more smoothly and I could not have felt more supported. I know this is not the case for many people, and it is not something I take for granted. When I listen to the playlist now that Scofield played during delivery, I can’t help but cry every time. I am so thankful and will remember this day forever.