I’ve told a number of people my birth story and gotten a wide range of reactions. Some good and supportive, others full of disbelief and accusations that I was lying. The thing is that I believe if you have an uncomplicated pregnancy, and uncomplicated labor and delivery you don’t HAVE to have pain involved. And frequently we as women compare our birth stories like it is a badge of honor to have survived the pain and horror show.
Which leaves those of us with painless or minimal pain in the process of delivering our child in a rather awkward position. I’ve been flat out shunned by some women who just “can’t believe I would lie about something so fundamental to birth”. but the fact of the matter is that I did not experience pain, so if you are hoping for a horror story to compare yours too I can’t provide that for you. But I would love to hear your story and you can sign up to be included in my Birth Story Series here.
My birth story begins much earlier than the actual labor and certainly well before I ever knew I was in labor. But for the intents and purposes of keeping this shorter then a novel I’m going to stick with my oldest son’s labor and delivery in this post.
It was the middle of July, my husband had been out fishing late into the night and I had felt restless all evening. Tucking myself into bed I ran through the details of what was needed the next day in preparation for my nephew’s birthday party. A gift and a bit of running around and we should be good to go, not much to do really but it made me feel better knowing I had my list ready.
At around 2 am I woke up, looking over I saw my husband was not in bed yet so to ease the ache in my lower back I got into the shower and swayed a bit. A technique I’d been using throughout pregnancy to keep my low back more comfortable.
Heading back to bed I sent hubs a text asking when he thought he would be home. I didn’t get to read his response until around 5 am when I woke again. Seemingly for no reason. As my back was aching yet again I got in the shower and ran the hot water out before heading back to bed.
Around 8 am is when I’m told things got interesting, my husband was home and awake when I came out of our bedroom. And after a brief “good morning” started insisting I call the Midwife, and he was adamant that we were not going to the birthday party.
I was told later that I developed “attitude” somewhere around this point. You see I was insisting that we were going out to my nephew’s birthday party (an hour drive away), and my husband kept telling me that I needed to call someone and flat out refusing to go to the party. He may have even hidden the car keys on me too…
We had some back and forth over it before I received a facebook message from one of my doulas asking how I was. I responded by sending a snarky text to my Doula team to let them know that I “might” be in early labor. And a message to the family that I wasn’t “feeling well” to excuse our absence from the party. Mainly because my husband was refusing to drive, and I felt too tired to go on my own.
By this point, I was feeling like something was happening, but I kept dismissing it as Braxton hicks. You know the false contractions. Up to this point I hadn’t had any and there was no pain just a tightening in my abdomen. I was thinking “No pain means no labor right?”
However my doula (and friend) convinced me that she could just pop by for a bit and see how I was doing, and if nothing was going on then she could just as easily pop out and head back home. I think the part of me that knew this was labor needed the excuss to have someone there for support, but the stubborn part of me that thought this wasn’t labor because it didn’t hurt still needed an excuse to send her home if I needed.
Either way she showed up at our place around 11 am. By the time she had her coat and shoes off I was having contractions about 8 minutes apart. As she had been timing me and watching how I reacted I think this is what finally convinced me I was actually going to meet our little boy soon.
We had a short discussion on what exactly I was feeling and decided to give our midwife a call. As there was some concern kiddo was trying to come out my right hip my awesome doula suggested doing some inversions with her help to get baby to “unplug & reposition”.
At first, I refused to even try her suggestions because I still didn’t fully believe that this was actually labour so I didn’t see the point in trying to reposition kiddo. Of course, when we called the midwife she backed up my doula and we ended up trying it anyway. Seriously if your doula suggests something at least try it!
So there I am, mid labor feet on the couch, but in the air, doula with a piece of fabric wrapped around my tummy pulling back, and hands planted on the floor when I felt a shift…kiddo had just moved into my lung space for the first time. I remember feeling elated, and rather excited that I was going to meet baby soon. But I was a tad worried too, everything had been going so well I didn’t want to acknowledge that this was real labor because then all the bad things would happen.
I went back into denial, nope, this was Braxton hicks, had to be. Stronger than most women get them sure, but it couldn’t possibly be labor. After all, I felt happy, excited even. Not the pain I expected.
At the same point, I remember thinking of how grateful I was that I had my doula with me. She was supportive, and even sent my husband to get me Gravol and Poweraid at one point, and at another, she sent him to go sleep on the couch because he was tired and annoying me.
At some point I started to feel pressure in my low back, my doula jumped in and started pressing on my back in just the right spot to not only reduce the pressure but it seemed to stimulate a relaxation response in my body. I nearly fell asleep during this time. I would watch as my belly pulled in and up then pushed down on its self and felt the weight of my doula on my back. I was fascinated but sleepy and rested as I could.
Around 3:30 pm we had reached the midwife’s pre-requisite 4-1-1 status and called in for instructions. There was a flurry of activity as Mr. B. got the van out of the garage and ready to go. The “hospital bag” was grabbed and I was unceremoniously ushered out the door into the passenger seat.
I swear Mr. B. hit EVERY SINGLE POT HOLE he could find on the way there… I believe someone made a joke about the baby getting “bounced out” before we arrived at the birth center, and I may have responded with a comment about violence being done to the said joker. But I don’t remember all the details.
Once we arrived at the Birth Centre I’m told my whole body just relaxed. This was where I wanted to deliver my babies (both this one and any future kids). My midwife did a quick check that everything was progressing smoothly and Mr. B. and I took the one and only “maternity” photo together that we have before I got into the birthing tub.
Let me tell you warm water does wonder for this laboring Mamma! I relaxed even more. And I started going more and more internal on this one, focusing on how my body was moving and feeling. I could hear people around me but I didn’t really pay any attention to them, other than my husband.
It should be said that during our talks about who should be in the delivery room with us, my husband had spoken of discomfort with seeing me in pain while delivering our child. It was a concern that he had that he may not be able to handle seeing that. And being aware of this I flat out decided that I would NOT show him any of the pain I expected.
So I kept an eye on my husband to see if I was showing any pain. The problem was that the pain I expected never really showed up. I remember the midwife talking me through various aspects of the delivery and describing it as pressure.
The water was warmed up for me when it cooled off and I kept the position on my hands and knees from the get-go. The few times I tried to change position my body rebelled and sent me back to my hands and knees.
There are parts that I remember where I tried to interact with the people around me. But communicating was getting harder, earlier on someone made a comment about the tattoo on my back and I could describe it in detail all the reasons for it and what it meant to me, but it took several tries to state that I had a muscle cramp in one of my hamstrings farther along in the labour. And people kept offering me water and Powerade well past the point of me wanting any.
Then near the end I remember focusing on my body and feeling how kiddo was moving and shifting lower inside me. I remember thinking my lungs felt like they were opening up more and how relaxed this all felt. But none of the pain I expected happened.
Shortly before kiddo was born I remember thinking I should make a joke about how I don’t think I can do this… I don’t think it came out right because I got a bunch of reassurance that I was almost there… that baby would be in my arms soon.
I just twisted my husband’s wrist a little bit more and went back to humming. He just encouraged me to breathe through my nose and shifted so I didn’t put him in any pain.
At some point, I remember being told that if I wanted to or felt like it I could push. And while I don’t remember an intense need to do so it felt like my body wanted to do something. So I let it. I focused on my humming, deep in my throat and let my body do what it felt it wanted to.
Right after that my water broke, apparently kiddo was trying to bring everything out with him. I did feel the gushing sensation but I was so deep into my own body that I didn’t really pay any attention to it.
People were talking to me, I think I may have told them to shut up but I’m not sure. I do remember giving some kind of order though.
Then the stretching sensation started, many people will describe this as a burning sensation or the “ring of fire”. I would likely call it more a “having a good poop” feeling. You know the one when you work really hard to get one out that has some tension to it and you get that slightly sore sensation? Yeah, that one.
I gave one more push and kiddo slipped into the warm water. Someone told me to “catch my baby” and the next thing I knew was that he was in my arms, umbilical cord pulsing against my thigh and lower abdomen as he worked up his ability to scream a loud protest as being ejected from my womb.
I took one look at his face and said “You are going to be a great big brother”… my midwife told me later that this was the first time she had ever heard that within the first few weeks of kiddo being born, and it shocked her for a moment.
While I remember feeling a sense of love for this little being held tight in my grasp, who was screwing up his face to be able to scream a loud protest (and nearly spitting out eardrums in the process) I don’t remember that sensation being overwhelming or suddenly showing up like I’ve read some other women experience. Mine felt more like a long slow burning ember that was always there waiting but hadn’t been brought to life until I finally held him in my arms.
We spent a few minutes in the tub together, kiddo wrapped in towels and me seated and relaxing a bit. Kiddo settled down after his initial protest about the same time as the umbilical cord stopped pulsing. Mr. B. cut the cord (even though originally he said he didn’t want to), and kiddo was wrapped up and handed to his daddy so I could get out of the tub.
I don’t remember my legs being shaky or anything other than the feeling of wanting to lay down and snuggle my little man. I know I had help getting out of the tub, and when I laid down on the bed I had the urge to lift my top leg up in the air. Not 20 minutes after I had kiddo out gushed the afterbirth a tad earlier than anyone expected. So early in fact that they hadn’t gotten all the stuff ready to clean it up under me.
I gave birth to a 9lbs 1oz baby boy, in 1 push, without anything I recognize as pain and I didn’t have any tears. All told my labor was from 2 am to 7 pm (17 hours) and we were in the birth centre from 4 pm to shortly before midnight. Yes, we went home that night. Eating and heading to bed before midnight.
The funny part was that as we prepared to go home later that night we realized that in all the hullabaloo hubs forgot to install the baby seat in the van. 😀 so he had to go home and get it, then come back for us.
I’ve since talked to many medical professionals who have a hard time believing this, and are often shocked that this is possible. So while I don’t blame anyone else for not believing me, I do think that if I can do this so can other women. And I really hope that this story is encouraging for you, NOT something you compare yourself to. Because My story is mine, and your story is yours. And they are both valid no matter how they are different or the same.