My Natural Birth Story, March 27, 2010
April Susan Pribanic
Natural Birth Story of April Susan Pribanic
It was Friday March 26th, and although just one day past my due date, I was quite upset that baby didn’t come when she was “guessed” to arrive. Even though I knew babies can make their appearances anytime between 38 and 42 weeks, my mind wasn’t happy about this delay.
That morning I was schedule for an appointment with my OBGYN office. The doctor who saw me wasn’t one I had met before, so I said to her that maybe this meeting was meant to be because perhaps she would be the one to help deliver this baby. She told me she was on call that weekend, so indeed, if baby decided to come then, she would be there.
The doctor did her standard measurements at that time: checked me for dilation, effacement and softening, and I was pretty much about the same that I was the previous week: approximately 3 cm dilated, 80% effaced and very soft. She also said the baby’s head was still posterior and that it needed to move forward for anything to happen. All this news wasn’t too pleasing for me. She then measured my belly, and told me that I was still really small: only 33 cm, when I should have been a lot closer to 40. So, she set me up for an ultrasound appointment for next week and told me after that meeting we’d talk about induction. To that I was even more upset because induction was the last thing I wanted – my whole plan was to have a completely natural, unassisted delivery, but if it had to get kick-started, I guess that’s what had to happen.
After this appointment, I met my pregnant workout partner, Sandy , at the gym. Sandy is two weeks behind me in her pregnancy, and we’ve been training together since we both found out we were pregnant. Our gym partnership has been a great match, and I highly recommend pairing up with a pregnant workout partner when your time comes (the ladies, that is).
We started out our workout as usual, with our dynamic warm-up, and followed with some upper and lower body pushing/pulling exercises. I wasn’t sure if it was the fact that I was upset from my doctor’s visit, or because I’d been taking it easy for the past few days in lieu of baby’s arrival, but my performance in the gym was pretty challenging: I was incredibly tired and was having a hard time keeping my breath and maintaining my blood pressure (it’s low and seemed really low that morning). I thought (hopefully) maybe this was a sign that my body was preparing for something.
After the workout, I picked up some spicy food to see if that would kick-start this labor, and bought some more raspberry leaf tea, which I’d been drinking since Monday to also help bring labor on sooner than later. When I finally got home, I had a much-needed nap and then spent the rest of the day and night working on my computer (and, of course, wasting time on the internet). I also read some of my baby-preparation books. I didn’t have much motivation to do anything else because I was still a bit sad. My husband came home late after work that night and we finished our year-end taxes, which obviously needed to be done.
At around 11pm that night, while still working on taxes, and reading, I started getting lower abdominal cramping, which felt more like GI distress than anything else (labor pains I mean). These pains were actually followed by an upset belly at around 1230am, so I assumed that the spicy food I ate early that afternoon just wasn’t agreeing with me.
My husband and I decided that it was time for bed, but when I laid down, my tummy was so uncomfortable that I spent the next couple hours off and on the toilet, not really doing anything after the first major movement, but just not feeling well. During this time I was suspicious that perhaps I was in labor, but because all I was experiencing was off-and-on again lower abdominal pain, I didn’t think this could be “it”. But, this abdominal pain was also accompanied by a light-pink discharge that just seemed “odd’. So, from 1am to 3am in the morning I shuffled through four different pregnancy books, reading the chapters about labor signs while pacing the house, because it was too uncomfortable to lay down and finally decided that this actually seems to be it.
At 4am, after feeling what I knew now were contractions localized to my lower belly occurring every 5 to 10 minutes, I decided to call my doula, Deby, after consulting with my sleepy husband who said that it was probably a good idea. I felt horrible calling her at such an early hour, but I knew I had to touch base and figure out what I should do. To my delight, she answered her phone, which I thanked her for picking up (she still laughs about this, because she said in all her years as a doula, no one has thanked her for answering her phone… but, like I said, it was 4am and I knew she’d be asleep). The interesting thing about my call to her was that just 6 hours earlier, I’d sent her an email telling her nothing was going on yet and that I wasn’t sure when, if ever, this labor would start. Well, I was really wrong.
I told Deby that I was pretty sure I was in labor, but it was progressing so fast, I wasn’t sure if maybe I just had the flu, or a major case of tummy upset. I also had some light pink discharge. She told me all those signs were normal and that yes, I was probably indeed in labor. She asked me why I thought it was progressing so fast, and I said it was because everything was getting more and more intense in such a short period of time. I told her my contractions were about 5 to 10 mins apart (I had a hard time counting them because I wasn’t actually sure what they were) and she suggested I call her back in about an hour. So, I put the phone down and tried to just get some sleep. However, laying down this whole time was just not comfortable, so for most of that night, I kept walking around the house and sat on the toilet a lot (mostly because ever contraction made me feel like I had to poop, which I didn’t after that midnight clear-out).
At 430am, I checked in with my husband again and told him to see if I looked “swollen” down there because I sure felt like it. He wasn’t even awake at this time, and thought I was being silly, but did it anyway. He confirmed that I was indeed swollen and that I should just try and get some rest because this labor could last forever. To that, he went back to sleep and I went back to pacing the living room and going to the bathroom.
By 5am, I was in a lot of pain but was so tired, I somehow found a position on the couch with two pillows that allowed me to close my eyes for about 10 minutes. During this time I had contractions that were now 2 to 4 minutes apart, but I just tried to breath (and moan) through them. During this time, my dog spent a lot of time with me because I think he knew I needed it.
At 520am, I called Deby again, and while speaking to her, I had a pretty strong contraction which I grimaced through while on the phone. She told me that I was doing great and asked if I wanted her to come over. I was still feeling badly that it was so early in the morning, so I said I would call her again if it got more intense and that she should just go back to sleep. After hanging up, the contractions started to get even more intense and even closer together. Over the next 20 minutes, I thought, well, I should get my hospital bag together completely since I had a few more things to add to it (which we never used, fyi).
By about 545am, I had an incredibly intense contraction that made my body start to push the baby out even without my consent. At this point, I knew I had to get to the hospital and called Deby back again. While on the phone, I had another incredibly intense contraction and she agreed that I needed to move on to the hospital and she’d meet me there. This was said especially since I was supposed to be there 4 hours before delivery to get antibiotics because I tested positive for the Group B strep culture that all pregnant women are tested for nowadays.
I woke up my husband at this point and told him that we needed to go. He said that he didn’t think we needed to leave just yet because we were just going to get told to go back home by the hospital staff – he thought how could I possibly be that far in labor at that point already? He also told me that my water didn’t break, so I probably wasn’t going to deliver any time soon. I gave him a really dirty look and then had one of my pushing contractions for him to view (not like he hadn’t been hearing them this whole time) and he decided he’d “start getting ready”. He slowly put some stuff in the hospital bag, had a bowl of cereal and asked me to feed the dogs. During this time, I was upset that he wasn’t taking this more seriously, but couldn’t do much but have crazy intense contractions. When he asked me to feed the dogs, I told him there was no possible way I could do that. I did actually try, but had such a hard contraction, I thought I was going to pass out and headed back to the bathroom to sit down.
It was now much past 6am and the car still wasn’t started (it was quite cold this morning). Justin (my husband) told me to go out and start it and he would meet me there. I again honestly tried to do this, but on my way out the door another contraction stopped me dead in my tracks. I went back inside and waited for him to get that done himself.
Finally, just after 630am, we started making our way to the hospital. As I was getting in the car, I had more contractions and had to rest my body on the car until I got through them. Finally, I sat down on the seat and we were on our way. While driving there, I remembered I hadn’t called my OBGYN office to let the hospital know I was coming, so I did that. The operator had to listen to me go through contractions while talking to him, but was nice about the whole situation. But now, the doctor and hospital knew I was en route. While sitting on the car seat , I had such a hard contraction and visualized letting my body relax and not fight through it, that with one loud “pop” my water broke right then and there. I was soaked, but smugly and loudly stated to my husband that my water just broke, and that he better believe this baby was really on her way… and fast!
It took about 20 minutes to get to the hospital and was just before 7am by the time we got there. When we went through the hospital doors, my husband jokingly asked me if I wanted to take the stairs up to the maternity floor (since I never, ever take the elevator at any other time), but I told him there was no way in this world I’d make it up the stairs at this point. So we got in and rode our way up to the labor and delivery department – me in a totally dazed and uncomfortable state.
Once we go to the nurses desk, they were expecting me and wanted me to start filling out some paperwork. But, I immediately had a strong contraction that had me pushing again, that they realized paperwork was going to wait. They hurried me right over to the closest delivery room and got me quickly undressed. I was totally incapable of taking off my own clothes (and soaking wet pants), so they did it for me. At that point, I didn’t care.
The nurse on staff quickly checked me on the bed and told me I was completely dilated and that she needed the other nurses on staff to get in there right away. I informed them that I had group B strep and needed to have antibiotics, but they told me there was no time for that - this baby was coming now! I also told them that I wasn’t trying to be difficult by arriving this late into labor, but I absolutely had no choice because it happened so fast, and in the middle of the night. They understood and were okay with it.
At this point, the doctor was not there yet, and neither was my doula. The nurses first asked me not to push if I could help it, put push if I had no choice. But, I really had no choice (my body was on auto-pilot) so the serious pushing began. I grabbed onto one of the side rails of the bed and closed my eyes (and didn’t open them almost the rest of the labor. Don’t ask me why, but that’s just what my body wanted to do). About 10 minutes later, both my doctor and my doula finally arrived and everyone was very happy (not that the nurses could not deliver the baby, but “technically”, they weren’t supposed to). My doula and doctor did an amazing job of taking over, and my husband was also faithfully at my side helping me be strong.
My contractions were coming about a minute or two apart and on each one, everyone helped me to make the most of them. I was on my back, despite me originally wanting a water or squat birth. However, as I said, at this point I wasn’t really choosing anything on my own - my body was taking over and I had no energy to do anything different. In any matter, on each contraction, my doula, doctor and nurses asked me to hold each push for at least 10 seconds, and although I tried, it wasn’t happening mostly because I was so fatigued (remember, I hadn’t had any sleep since the prior night); so, we compromised for 7 second pushes and re-pushes. I did my best to push as hard as I could during each contraction, and then completely rested in between because it was so draining. My doula kept me strong and calm and my husband was amazing as well (I learned later that he almost passed out, but thankfully he held it together when I really needed him). My body and mind were fighting each other a little – every time my body said it was time to push, my mind said, “Oh my goodness this hurts! Back off a bit!!” Thus, my body wasn’t really able to push as hard as I liked, and not as long, but somehow it all worked out.
At one point over this 50 minute official pushing spree, the doctors and my doula asked me if I wanted to feel the baby’s head because it was right there, almost out. But I refused initially for some reason and they all laughed, saying that it was normal. Eventually after a few more minutes, I did reach down for her head, and it was like a squishy sponge that I almost wished I didn’t feel it (kind of yucky at that moment).
At 8:01am, April Susan made her complete entrance into this world weighing 7lbs 5oz and 20 inches long (so much for being small according to my belly measurements, and lack of body weight gain, eh?). I was able to feel everything throughout this whole labor and although it was pretty painful at some points (my throat was pretty sore from some of the screams that came out of my mouth… yes, to my dismay, I did scream a few times), I was happy with how it all went. As I said, I really officially pushed for just 50 minutes and it went extremely well. I did have a few minor internal tears that required some stitching, but I was feeling pretty great. Tired, but great.
When April came out, the nurses put her on my chest right away. I was in such a daze and completely exhausted though that I didn’t really know what to do with her. Plus, the doctor was quickly helping me deliver the placenta, and my body and mind hadn’t come back together yet.
The nurses then took April to clean her up more and weigh her, and the rest of the day was an amazing blur of new wonders and senses. April has turned out to be a fantastic feeder (she took to the breast like she’s done it a million times), and my husband is picking up being a daddy like he was born to do it.
Overall, my lightning-fast labor was truly a blessing (for obvious reasons), and I’m very glad I was able to do it all completely natural. Although I was sleep-deprived and completely tired out, I’m so happy I was able to function normally when the baby needed me to because I was not groggy from drugs.
Yes, I understand drugs are sometimes necessary for some labors, but in my humble opinion, if you can possible do it without anything to help to numb the pain, it seriously is the best choice you can make because once it’s over, the pain is really totally gone.