Brace yourselves, this is a long and detailed story:
It was Thursday January 3rd and I was a week overdue. It was also the day of another doctor appointment...however, this would be the appointment where we would seriously need to have the induction discussed and planned in case pregnancy went even longer (we had come to an agreement to go two weeks late before medical intervention, since I was a low-risk pregnancy).
I was so depressed and filled with much anxiety as I have been a natural birth advocate for years before ever even becoming pregnant. I hadn't even shown any major signs of labor being near by this point.
So I went to my doctor's appointment and it took every bit of strength in me to hold back the tears as she told me I was only 1.5 cm dilated and about 60% effaced. Granted, I knew that those numbers mean little (I have heard many stories of women jumping from 0 to 8 cm in a day), but when you are the one swimming in desperation with time running out and everything you believe in being threatened by the medical world, you can't help but be discouraged by such low numbers.
My doctor basically began treating the situation as an inevitable induction and even wanted me to tell her what method I would use so she could put in the order that day for the meds - to which I refused to decide in my shock at her brazenness. She didn't seem to like that and began questioning why I wanted a natural birth so badly (will never go back to this doctor). I could sense her irritation and it left me feeling quite betrayed as she had me believing that she was a natural birth supporter throughout my pregnancy. Towards the end, the signs had surmounted to prove otherwise, such as: when she confessed that she would rather be medically induced than drink any amount of castor oil to induce labor naturally, and also wanted to induce me several days earlier than agreed upon because she was going on vacation that weekend. Hah....I told her no, I would rather give my child the extra few days to make his appearance and I would just utilize a different doctor. After all, I was going to be doing all the work, so what did it matter?
I left the appointment feeling so discouraged. Every pregnant woman knows how each day after the due date can feel like an eternity of anxiety and hopefulness, while the span of the two week count down until induction (if you're lucky enough to be allowed that much time) is never long enough - a blink of an eye. So, I basically felt like my time was already up, even though I had another week before any medical intervention.
I broke down in the car on the way home. Steven was driving and trying to console me, simultaneously. Poor fella. I texted my doula to update her and expressed my overwhelming concerns. Once she realized how emotional and worried I had become, she advised me to go buy clarey sage oil and rub it on my belly and bottoms of feet. She also referred me to an acupuncturist who is also a doula and experienced in pregnancy/induction acupuncture. Without questioning a single word, I booked my appointment with the acupuncturist for the following day and drove with Steven out to Menomonee Falls to buy some Clarey Sage oil.
Upon arriving home, I nearly immediately bathed in the smelly oil. (gave myself a headache). I took a bath to relax (adding more oil to that), and the wonderful husband gave me a foot rub with still more oil. Then...bed.
Before I fell asleep, I prayed and I prayed hard. I begged and I pleaded with God to please let this little boy come into the world as He intended; beautifully, naturally, healthfully. I wanted God to choose my son's birthday, not the hospital staff. Medical intervention is a blessing for those that truly need it, but I was blessed with such a healthy pregnancy, there were no signs that I was one of those women that would actually need any part of it. And so I fell asleep. But not for long!
I had begun to wake up periodically to intense cramping, but went back to sleep not thinking too much of it. When I awoke at 6 am to feel the cramping intensify and prove to be regulated, I got reeeaaally happy! I tried not to get myself too psyched - since it was still possible that it may be false labor. I didn't tell my doula until that afternoon on the 4th that I was experiencing contractions about 15-25 minutes apart and not too uncomfortable yet.
We kept up communication throughout the day as the contractions turned into 10-15 minutes apart with a lot of dull lower back aching. But then there seemed to be no progress beyond that...they didn't get any closer together but did get more intense. It wasn't until later in the day that she realized that my now intense back pain was because I was having "back labor," i.e. the baby was posterior. So with each contraction, baby was pressing against my spine. This gave way for aching even in between contractions, so I didn't get much of any breaks! She instructed me of some stretches to do that could shift the baby into better positioning to allow labor to move forward. She said that the reason why I wasn't progressing any further was because my uterus was too busy trying to get Philip to flip into correct position with each contraction.
After hours of stretching and holding awkward positions over our exercise ball, couch, or floor, it worked! I no longer felt searing, firey back pain through each one. Still, they were about 10 minutes apart at that point, around 1 - 2 am. So we did our best to go to sleep. Steven slept for a bit while I slept a few minutes at a time in between contractions (absolutely awful...I know). I was so exhausted from the full day and night of laboring that I even slept for about 1.5 - 2 hours through contractions! I do remember dreaming about feeling contractions, so I didn't escape them entirely, alas...
When we awoke at about 8 am on Saturday the 5th, they had spread out to about 15 minutes apart again -aargh! However, within 1 - 2 hours after waking, they sped up to 8 - 10 minutes apart and intensified quickly. The bad part was that I was having back labor again and the stretches weren't helping this time - stubborn little guy!
When contractions got to be around 6 minutes apart, we had our doula come over to our house to see us through the rest of labor (around 2 pm that day). She guided me through meditation, relaxation and breathing techniques through each contraction as they were getting to the point I could no longer talk through them.
She massaged my back and tried to help move the baby around by using acupressure during each contraction. It began to hurt so bad! Mostly the back pain, though. The contraction itself was painful but bearable. Steven even felt my spine being pushed and moved when I would contract! Yikes.
Fast forward to about 7:30- 8 pm. After hours of watching Anthony Bourdain's: A Cook's Tour on Hulu, Steven making dinner for himself and the doula, and me suffering so much that all I could stomach were energy health bars and lots of water and coconut water (hooray electrolytes), labor had progressed to about 3 minutes apart and I could barely stand anymore (only if clutching onto Steven - strong guy, thank you Lord).
We packed up the car and headed to the hospital! Every bump in the road felt like death to me, but I remember reminding Steven to please drive safely and carefully....he did very well!
We arrived at the hospital, I got into a wheel chair and wheeled all the way to Labor & Delivery (a long haul). Then.....they made me wait in the lobby for about 30 minutes. Let's just say that I didn't try to quiet myself during each contraction for the sake of others in the lobby....I figured it'd expedite the process ;).
By the time I got to the room I was 6 cm and 100% effaced. I admit I felt a bit discouraged, as the pain was such that I felt I was ready to go! My doula assured me that it could change quite quickly from there. Boy was she right...
I just did my best to focus on not only breathing in but breathing out (surprisingly difficult). My doula continued to coach me through each contraction to help me channel my breathing into a steady "oooo" sound, which worked marvelously!
Steven played the pre-arranged "Loreena McKennit"-themed radio station on Pandora in the background.
As I requested, the nurses prepared the whirlpool for me. They all appeared very nervous that I would have the baby in the tub, which is a big no-no in Wisconsin. I assured them this wouldn't happen, while my doula and I joked off to the side together that it wouldn't be a bad idea - it'd be quite perfect actually.
So I hopped into that....and by 'hopped' I mean slooowly shuffled my way down the hall to the whirlpool room and sloooowly and completely ungracefully climbed into the tub, which seemed all-too impossibly high for my laboring parts to heave into. Luckily, the husband and nurses were quite helpful.
Surprisingly, it wasn't the most comfortable thing at the time, so I only spent 15 minutes in there; way too hot and terribly designed to sit it (probably done on purpose to avoid moms from getting too comfy and having water babies). I returned to my room (very slowly) and spent the rest of labor in there.
At 8 cm, my water had not yet popped and so I gave my blessing to do so, thankfully relieving so much pressure and skyrocketing me to 10 cm.
Time to push.
Boom. Baby. Seriously...it was that quick after being given the go-ahead to push. I remember thinking of how weakened, malnourished, dehydrated, and sleep-deprived I was at that point - I could feel myself fading and seconds from fainting. It was in that same moment that survival and protection mode kicked in: 'Momma bear' instinct had begun and I told myself that I had not come this far and suffered this much to let my body give up at the very end! I could not fail my child and compromise his safety. I had to keep going somehow. I mustered up all the strength I had left in me (I had no idea where it came from - truly from God above because I was long spent) and I pushed...he was out in 5 minutes. I didn't even know that was not normal until my doula informed me that usually it takes at least an hour of pushing...the staff had not even changed into the proper scrubs yet (oops, sorry).
My blood pressure was below 100 now, but in my dizzied daze I clutched onto this tiny new little person that was suddenly beholden to me: my little Philip Elwood Gottlieb. All the pain literally disappeared. It was just me and him. He was so beautiful; so perfect; so miraculous.
He held his head up right from the get-go and was crying a healthy, powerful cry - what a voice! What strength!
I was so in love, and by that same token, so intimidated by him. I knew my life had changed instantly and I wanted nothing more than to pour my heart and soul into this little new soul and be everything he deserved me to be...but I was afraid I would not be good enough.
Now, as he is 7 months old, I still hold myself to that high standard, but I also have come to realize over this time that it is precisely that which makes me the mother that Philip needs; one who loves him with an endless, ever-growing love, whom is always at work to better herself and embody the role model he needs in this journey of life.
born - January 6th, 2013 (Epiphany Baby!!)
@ - 12:27 am
weight - 8 lbs
height - 19.5 in
hair/eyes - dark brown/slate blueish grey
skin - olive
And here's a cute picture of teeny tiny Philip on his baptismal day (1/20/13), with us and his Godparents :