Friday, November 16, 2012

Natural Childbirth - Briggs' Birth Story

If the term "natural/unmedicated childbirth" wigs you can go ahead and stop reading NOW.  However, if you have ever, will ever, hope to ever or soon will be having a baby, this post might be of some interest to you.  I have debated on whether or not to share this post with the world, but now that we are coming up on the birth of our second little boy, I've been revisiting our first birth experience.  In conversations with friends and others, I realize this is a foreign concept to many and most people don't understand or even know what natural childbirth is.  This is not an attempt to get any recognition or an 'at a girl,  but just to share our experience and bring awareness to a pathway that is often overlooked or not even considered by many for childbirth. is our story..

Most of you know I had been on bedrest for 4 weeks prior to delivery.  Which was the springboard of this whole blog idea.  Anyway, my first day off bedrest was any normal day.  I went to the doctor that morning.  I had dilated another cm, so I was to 3cm (while on bedrest and oral medicine).

I had officially made it to 37 weeks gestation, so I got the green light to do whatever I wanted.  So I did what any bedridden girl would do...headed to Smoothie King, even brought one to Justin and off to the mall I went.  I didn't even get in the door good and felt a warm gush of water down "there".  I went strait to the bathroom, and there was more.  I started to get a little nervous.  Went to sit down in the food court, called the doctor, they said come back NOW.  So yes, I drove myself to the hospital...flashers on, deep breathing and all.

Note: don't know that the deep breathing was necessary b/c I wasn't in full labor or anything, I was just nervous and was trying to keep myself calm.  Ha...I'm sure was a sight for sore eyes to say the least.

Justin beat me to the hospital.  When I got there, they took me strait back in the office, Dr. Swindle checked out the situation...CONFIRMED...water officially broke and they sent me down to HAVE A BABY!...AHH...I had always wondered how it was going to happen and so here it goes...

They checked us in, I got changed into this lovely shade of green "gown", they started me on pitocin, and we just waited.  Even though my water had broken, I wasn't into full labor yet b/c I wasn't having very strong contractions at that was used to get things rolling.

At first nothing was too bad.  We were just hanging out.  Justin had time to run down to the car and get our stuff (yes I had been driving around with it in the back of my car for a couple of weeks), changed clothes, I of course was on the phone with my mom a lot, read some of my book, chewed on a little ice, texted A LOT of people...

Sidenote:  my sister had just had her little boy, Brooks, one week prior (exactly to the day) in Baton Rouge, LA.  We live in Birmingham, AL (6 hours away).  The plan was for my mom to come strait to Birmingham when all this went sister's family all got a stomach bug...which wasn't coming until they were all germ-free.  Yes it was hard knowing my mom or sister would not be here for any of this, but those things happen sometimes.  We made the best of it, talked a lot, took lots of pics and videos and had to just make it work...thank goodness for technology.

Oh yeah..that's just me chillin with my ice, talking on the phone (probably to mom or Abs)...just about to have a big deal.  I keep asking the how much stronger are these things gonna get?  If this is as bad as it gets, I can do this all day long (as I'm sure she is chuckling to herself)...famous last words!

Since I was planning on going "natural", Dr. Swindle had them get all these things together for me and have them available.  I'm still not sure what that chair looking thing is, but the exercise ball I used

We actually missed the birthing classes since I was on bedrest, but we had been told to make sure nursing knew I wanted to go natural so they could put us with a nurse who specialized in that kind of thing.  Apparently most people get an epidural these days...I mean why would you want to do that when you could feel every single contraction, pain, movement...yeah I know, I'm crazy :)

Anyway, we told them that as soon as we got there.  Our first nurse made me stay in the for everything...bathroom, contractions, the whole sha-bang.  If you know me, you know I'm a rule follower so I didn't push too much, but I was thinking in my head...geez, this is gonna be a long, slow, grueling day if I can't even move around.  Well soon after, like not even an hour, this lady (below) walks in...
 (for the record...that pic is just after I had Briggs, not during)

Amy Campbell...I have gone back up to the hospital many times to see her since Briggs, but it never works out that she is there when we are.  Maybe we will see each other again soon.  Justin and I both agree...we never could have gotten through this experience without her...she was AMAZING!

Her first words to me are..."get up".  Me and Justin look at each other and are like...well ok then.  She lets me walk around, if I needed to go to the bathroom, she would check me first (b/c apparently you have the urge to push when the baby is ready to come out...she was just making sure what "urge" I was having) and let me go to the potty.  You don't get many moments of privacy during childbirth, but it sure was nice to be able to have that one.  I rotated between the rocking chair, the exercise ball, the bed... we go...things are starting to get fun now...

Justin of course, went to get himself some Starbucks.  That boy loves him some coffee.  The hallelujah choruses were playing the day he found out there was a Starbucks in the hospital :)

This is what 37 weeks looks like  in between contractions...

And this is what it looks like during...

The screen below was Justin's friend during labor. 

He would talk me through the contractions as they got more intense.  See the peaks and valleys...when one would be starting he would let me know so I could start breathing and trying to relax and the most important part was when I hit the top/peak (hardest part) and then was coming down (contraction going away) helped me know I was done with that one and never had to do THAT ONE again.

If you're one of those people interested in going natural...a few tips.

RELAX...easier said than done I know b/c things get pretty intense, but one thing the nurse told me that made need to be as relaxed as possible so your body can do it's job. able to move your fingers and toes throughout a whole contraction.  Don't clench up your body...that's why breathing is so important.  I actually really liked the exercise ball (seen below).  I would sit on it and during a contraction they (Justin and Amy)  would help me rock from side to side on it, to help me relax and in turn it was helping Briggs to move down in the birth canal.

After the above picture, Justin wasn't allowed behind the camera anymore.  He assumed position right next to me and can I just say was....A.M.A.Z.I.N.G.!....I mean, really, he really was.  People say the birth of your child will bring you closer together (I guess sometimes unless you're screaming at him b/c "he" put you in this position...I still don't understand that philosophy)...well this was teamwork if I've ever witnessed it.  I actually felt kind of bad for him b/c he felt so bad for me.  It's one of those things, where you have to watch someone you love experience pain and you can't do anything about it or take it away.  So he was seriously my biggest cheerleader, coached me through every single contraction, got me chapstick and ice when I needed it, kept putting cold rags on my head and neck (which helped a lot), rubbed my back when I needed it, didn't rub it when I didn't need it, he was with me every step of the way making sure I knew...I could do this.

So, to paint a picture of what is happening during this lapse in camera time...Things are VERY INTENSE.  From what the nurses tell me, most people don't try to go or don't make it, going natural when pitocin is involved.  The main reason is because it amps up your contractions to a pretty intense level and quickly. I guess one thing in my favor was that I was already dilated to 3cm and thinned some when I started this whole process.  

When things got to a certain point, I remember having to go to the bathroom.  Amy made sure that's what it really was and it was a process just getting there.  I was having to move in between contractions.  So they were getting me up as fast as they could, I'm sitting on the edge of the bed breathing through one, then move to the bathroom, breath through one standing and holding onto the wall, have one on the potty, get back to the bed get the idea.  

One major thing that helped me...everybody is different, is to set goals for myself. Amy would check me periodically and thankfully every time I had made progress with dilating another cm or so.  So we would set a goal for me to get through 10 more contractions and she would check me again. Some people don't want to be checked that much if going natural b/c if they haven't made progress, it's discouraging and you might opt for epidural.  In my case, I was progressing well, so 10 contractions (or whatever # we picked) was a good number.

They did change my position some during labor (when I was staying in the bed).  I moved to my side, onto my hands and knees.  Yes that was as awkward as it sounds (just for the record, I was fully clothed...if you can call that gown "fully clothed").  But...the way it was explained to me, Briggs was moving down in the birth canal and when that happens they turn from facing out toward your belly to facing toward your back as they move into position.  He needed some help moving into position so me moving would help him..and it did.  I forget what number of contractions we had set for that position, but after about 3, I started telling her I felt like I needed to push.  She came to check me and determine if that was the "urge" we had been waiting for...then the fun really began.

Apparently I was dilated to 10cm...sooner than expected.  I remember them getting me positioned on my back again (but I was inclined...not laying flat or anything)...then all these people start coming in with the baby warmer, all robed up, trays with all kinds of stuff on them, the end of the bed came off, Justin is holding one leg, another nurse is holding the other leg, they are all telling me to PUSH, counting to 10 (not everybody counting to 10), but one person was. 

At first I was pushing really hard, but Amy kept saying...push harder.  I guess in a sense I was holding back just a teeny bit b/c I didn't know what it would do if I pushed with everything I had.  She would put her hand on a spot and say push right here.  Well, because I could feel her, it sounds weird, but I could make myself push right where she was telling me to.  And when I gave it EVERYTHING I HAD, she would say, yes...that's what I want you to do.  Well that's all she had to say.  After that, I pushed as hard as I possibly could.  You might be asking..did it hurt.  I'm not gonna lie...the part before this, hurt.  Like there were a few times, if I hadn't dilated when she checked me, I didn't know if I could keep going, it hurt that bad.  But, this part, the pushing part, it actually felt good...if that even makes sense.  I guess the best way to say it...I had to be such a  passive participant prior to this part, relax and breath through all the pain.  But now, I was able to actively participate.  I pushed through every single contraction, as hard as I possibly could and it helped with the pressure. You have an urge to push so to NOT push is almost impossible at this point.  They got the mirror out during this part.  I never thought I would want to see that, but it did help give me a visual and know I gotta work harder and get that little guy out.

Sidenote:  After the birth was over...I had busted some blood vessels in my eyes from pushing so hard.  I mean I seriously looked like I belonged on Twilight or something...but at least I did my job :)

There were a few things during this part...I started to tear during one part of it.  Amy told me I would feel like someone had a lighter down there...that's exactly what it felt like.  I had to lighten up on the pushing for a few minutes while they helped stretch things...didn't hurt..was just a sensation and I was still able to push which was all I cared about at that point.  

When I saw Dr. Swindle's face come through that door...I knew we were there.  That was the best feeling.  I figured she wouldn't be there unless we were about to have a baby.  I was tearing more.  We had talked about this part before now.  I didn't want to be cut a lot, but I also didn't want my bottom to bust open (she had told me a horrible story about a girl who that happened to).  So she is down there saying "Now Iris, I'm going to have to cut you just a little bit so the baby will come out, I'm not going to cut a lot...blah blah blah".  I was like..just do it Dr. Swindle!  They wouldn't let me push during this part b/c she needed to be able to cut without a baby popping out in her face.  That was the hardest contraction of the whole six NOT push during an active contraction.  I had 3 or 4 people around me talking me through that one...they kept telling me to act like I'm blowing feathers.  That was a good tip b/c it did help.  

As soon as she cut, Briggs popped out.  That was the only thing holding him in.  Now...THAT was the weirdest feeling....a whole baby coming out of your body.  I can't even put it into words.  It was like this big thing sliding out of your body that felt like was from your rib cage all the way down.  It was the hugest feeling of relief and kind of overwhelming and AWESOME (that it was all over)! 

Here are a few pics once Allison Lewis got there (click here if you want her version of how this part happened).  She barely got there to catch the end...but here are a few pics..

This picture (below) is right after Briggs came out

After most births you see that picture of the baby laying on the mommy.  Well, the chord was wrapped around Briggs' neck when he was born, so they had to take him strait over to the table to give him oxygen.  I didn't realize that at the time.  I guess I didn't put it together..why they had not given him to me yet.  Dr. S did hold him up so I could see him, but that was it. 

And this was my view...

I'm laying back trying to recover a little bit
Right after he was delivered, you get to deliver the afterbirth.  I never saw it and didn't want to see it, but I remember the contractions.  I was thinking...geez...I already did this part, why am I having these again.  I don't remember how long that took, maybe 20 min?  So I was a little occupied by that too while they were getting Briggs stabilized.

First person I talked to...MOM
Kind of funny but this is while Dr. Swindle is stitching me up.  She had numbed me for that too, but I could feel some of it.  Nothing in comparison to what I had just been through, so I just called my mom and talked to her to tell her all about it.

Here is a pic of my my side...making me laugh (which just goes to can enjoy things right after you pop a baby out).

Love this woman...Dr. Swindle.  She had come to check on me all day, she came down at 5pm to see where I was at...she knew I really wanted her to deliver Briggs and knew my mom wouldn't be there...she stayed late just so she could be the one to do it.  
Really meant so much to both Justin and I.
And here you can see...she was so proud of me.

Melt my heart...I just thought I loved this man...
then I saw him with our baby... what I worked so hard to get here.


Look how alert he was.  People say no pain meds = more alert babies.  I don't have anything to compare it to, but he was pretty wide awake right here

And here...

Closing thoughts...

Why decide to go natural?  I guess I've always been interested in it.  My mom went natural with all three of us, I was there during the birth of my little brother (he is 11.5 yrs younger than me), that peaked my interest.  I'm not a huge fan of needles and I guess I just feel like our bodies are designed to have children so I was wanting to go as natural as possible to get the whole experience.

I will say...a HUGE plus to going natural...the recovery!  It was awesome!  I guess going through that much pain, it puts everything AFTER in perspective.  I never had to take the first pain pill...just used Advil and Tylenol.  I did have some stitches and hemroids, but most people do after they have a baby.  I had to work through being uncomfortable with that part.  And I was up, showered, moving around 2 hours after having a baby.  It was great.

Here is evidence...
(BTW...I look horrible in this pic, 
but I just had a baby so I'm gonna give myself a break).

Hear me well...I don't think anything less of someone who chooses to get meds during childbirth.  We have medicine for a reason and you should use it if you need it, I just opted not to.  I wasn't completely set against any meds.  Dr. Swindle and I had talked a lot about this before the day.  I trusted her medical judgement on certain things I was worried about and we had also said I wanted to "try" to go natural.  If I didn't make it...I didn't make it and was no big deal.  Also things can take unexpected turns during labor and who knew if it would all work out the way it did.  I have plenty of friends who end up with C-sections and weren't planning on it.

I guess my biggest thing is..end result is the most important.  You get your baby here as safely as possible and that's what is the ultimate goal.  We all have a birth story and this was ours.  I am very grateful for the way things turned out and definitely couldn't have made it without strength from the Lord and without my husband.

As a woman, we all have different avenues of becoming mothers... adoption, birth (natural, medicated, cesarean) and in the end, we are all mothers.  There is no greater joy that fills your heart than to hold that precious miracle and know it's yours.  Your heart automatically becomes bigger and has a special spot for that baby.

We do plan on taking the same course of action for this next baby.  Already praying for a successful delivery for our next son.  Can't wait to see how much my heart grows as we welcome baby Parker Blake  Poland.

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