Poppyseed’s Birth Story

Update:  I originally published this as a password protected post.  It’s a little personal, and so I wanted to make sure that readers really wanted to read it.  I didn’t want it to be like watching that Movie Knocked Up (the unedited version) and not knowing that they were going to show Katherine Heigl actually crowning while pushing a baby out.   Well I just removed the password in order to make this a little more user friendly, but here is a fair warning… this is a birth story.  It is pretty specific.  It isn’t just “I began having contractions, went to the hospital, dilated to 10, began pushing, and out came a baby.”  Nope, it’s a bit more…. in depth.

So if you aren’t comfortable with that, I’d slowly back away.

Also, if you want to know just why I chose to have a natural birth, check out my other post here.

Well, if you’re here you have typed in a password (from the Why Natural? post) and that means that you truly want to know. Don’t say I didn’t warn you! This is not a really gross read, especially for moms, but it is a little bit of personal information that may or not be okay by everyone’s social standards. But, again, you typed in the password so this ain’t no accidental read! 🙂

Oatmeal and I drove up to CS on Saturday (6 days past our due date) and got a hotel room in hopes that if we were relaxed and were near the hospital, I’d “let go” and just go into labor. We were overdue by almost a week, and we had a mandatory induction scheduled for Tuesday, meaning that we’d have to be at the hospital on Monday evening for Cytotec (it’s a gel that basically prepares a woman’s cervix for the pitocin). I was so worried that I would not go into labor and that I would indeed have to be induced. I knew from all of my reading that contractions on pitocin are stronger, faster, and more painful than natural contractions. Plus, if you are on pitocin, you have to be on the fetal heart monitor the entire labor due to the risk of it affecting the baby. I didn’t want to have to be stuck to a monitor or IV during the entire birth, plus I knew that if I had pitocin contractions I’d very likely cave and want the epidural. I’d also read that first time moms who are induced have nearly twice as much of a risk of needing a cesarean, which I was really afraid of. I know that many women have C-sections and it all turns out fine, but after all the planning I had done, I really wanted to just have the baby on my own! So, I was very dead set on going into labor before Monday night! We had a great day Saturday and Sunday morning walking around Texas A&M campus and hanging out around town, but no labor.

Sunday, I decided to try castor oil. We had tried everything else, and I was a nervous wreck about checking into the hospital the following day. I could not wait another 36 hours to go into labor and have it not happen. I’d read in Ina May Gaskin’s book (she is a famous midwife) that something like 9% of pts she saw admitted to self-inducing with castor oil. Castor oil is a laxative that is derived from a bean plant if I am not mistaken. Supposedly it causes your bowels to stir up and somehow those bowel contractions can trigger your uterus to contract as well. While there are no studies on the safety of this (similar to how there are no studies of the drug Cytotec on pregnant women but OBs use it regularly), Gaskin believed it to be perfectly safe. Also, the girl who referred me to Bradley Method in the first place reminded me that she took castor oil at 38 weeks and had her baby in 12 hours. I didn’t think I would take it, but that last day I finally decided I had nothing to lose. I took 2 tablespoons at 3pm Sunday. Nothing happened, so I took another 1-2 tablespoons one hour later. (This was the dosage recommended by Gaskin.) Around 6pm I started to realize that I was having a lot of the Braxton Hicks contractions but I didn’t want to actually call it labor. But, by 6:15 I started timing them and this is how they went.

7:45 contraction
7:48 contraction
7:54 contraction
8:00 contraction
8:02 mini contraction
8:04 contraction
8:09 contraction
8:13 mini contraction

So for the most part they were about 6 minutes apart with a few minis tossed in there. They each lasted about 60-90 seconds. The mini ones were shorter, 20-30 seconds, which sort of threw me off. They all were so easy to get through that I still wasn’t really sure it was labor, but it was the first time they were coming in a pattern and so frequently, so I was hopeful. I decided to take a shower and get all cleaned up and the whole time I kept having them. My belly would get tight across the lower part of my abdomen, from hip to hip.

Around 8pm they started taking a little bit more focus and we felt like we were really in labor! We were in the hotel room and I bounced around on the birth ball some and during contractions I’d put my knees on a pillow on the floor and then drape my torso against some pillows that were on the bed. Oatmeal didn’t need to do much for me that that point so he got all of our bags packed and rubbed my back some. I was torn because on one hand I was very tired – I hadn’t slept well the night before due to all the nerves – and I felt like I should lie down and rest. But, I was afraid if I just laid around then the baby would not move downward properly and that its position may not be right. So, we walked up and down the hotel hallways for a while, which was boring but made me feel productive. My contractions were always about 3-4 minutes apart at that point.

By 11pm the contractions were definitely taking some work and were staying around 3-3.5 minutes. It was starting to hurt in my back and sides and not in my belly. This made me concerned because I’d read that this could mean I was having “back labor” and that usually indicated that the baby was turned in the wrong direction – making delivery more difficult and cesarean more likely. I had to really focus because all of those pains in my back were really difficult, and it was very important that Oatmeal was there to encourage/massage me. In my head I started to worry about the castor oil and second guess the safety of the baby. I started to wish we weren’t alone and started asking Oatmeal if he thought we should go to the hospital. He was nice about it and I could tell he was trying very hard to read me, but didn’t think it was a good idea, saying he thought we should stay in the hotel longer because we had so much freedom and comfort there. I got a little teary around this time and just told him I was worried about the baby’s safety, but he reassured me that everything in our labor was normal. At that moment my water broke and I ran to the bathroom to sit on the toilet. It was a lot of water and it was cloudy with streaks of blood and meconium. This just about sent me over the edge, I was certain that my castor oil potion had hurt the baby and I started crying again. (I guess in my emotional state I forgot that some blood is totally normal!) Michael got our stuff together and off to St. Joseph’s we went, it was exactly 12am when we arrived. We parked the car and each grabbed our bags, birth ball, etc and walked up to the main entrance. I had to stop a few times to lean against the wall of the building because by that time walking/moving during contractions was impossible. When we reached the entrance it was… locked. Wow, talk about your all time backfire. We had to walk to the complete opposite side of the hospital, but we made it.

We had pre-registered, so getting admitted was quick and easy. We were taken upstairs and a nurse named Tara introduced herself to us. It just so happened I’d met her once before, she dates one of Oatmeal’s friends. I was trying to be very smiley and chipper because I wanted the hospital employees to like us and not think we were some high maintenance crazies, and so was Oatmeal. I told Tara immediately that I was worried due to the blood/brownish fluid in my water and told her she could see the pad I was wearing (ha), but she told me just to put on a gown and get on the bed and she’d swab me to check. We didn’t mention our “birth plan” or anything to her right away because I really did not want to seem demanding or high maintenance, but when she asked us if we wanted to see the epidural video and we declined, I think she realized that was the direction we were going. I had put together a lot of little snack bags of candy with thank you tags for the nurses, and so I put it on the counter next to our signed birth plan and at some point later she saw it, grabbed it and took it to the nurses station. Evidently she shared it with the other nurses who were later involved with our birth because they were all familiar with it, we could tell this even though we were never questioned.

She gave me an exam as soon as we were settled in the room and I was very disappointed to hear that I was only 4.5-5cm dilated. She said it did look like meconium on the swab but not to worry, that their policy was that if meconium was in the water that it just meant that once the baby was born the birth team would immediately check baby’s nose and mouth. Then she did bring the epidural video into the room even though we had declined it, saying that she “had to have everyone watch it.” She wasn’t pushy about it at all, and I think she was just doing that as a safety net in case I turned out to not be up for the challenge of going natural! We just turned the volume down and went about our business.

It was about 12:30am and my contractions had remained at 3-4 minutes apart this whole time. They were very tough. They were completely in my back or else they’d shoot up my sides. Oatmeal was massaging my back like crazy with each contraction and being very encouraging and sweet, which was extremely emotionally supportive but not really helpful in terms of making me feel better physically. It felt good to feel his hands on my back, but they were just so strong and painful that I don’t think anything would have really helped. I’m not sure exactly what point it was for me that I hit the final stage of labor before you actually begin pushing, but that stage is called transition. Usually it’s characterized by really tough contractions, the mother really doubting her ability to continue without medication, nausea, hot/cold flashes, etc. Basically it’s the worst part but it usually only lasts a short time, and then the contractions typically space out a little bit and the woman feels an incredible urge to push that she cannot control. I’d been doing a pretty good job at taking really deep abdominal breaths and relaxing as much of my body during my contractions, just like I’d learned in class, but at this point I started to realize that “relaxing” was impossible. The pain in my back was suddenly all encompassing. I’d feel subtle waves of nausea, I never actually felt like I was going to vomit but I would feel a wave of queasiness. In my head I was getting frustrated because I was remembering quotes from Dr. Bradley’s book about how mothers could lie on their sides and appear to be sleeping when in hard labor (are you kidding me!?!?!), but if I got on my side they were actually much more painful and I couldn’t even begin to relax through them. I only got in the bed twice during the entire labor and both times it was to try lying on my side, and I’d actually characterize those two contractions as my most painful. I was very disappointed in myself for not being able to control my breathing. I was trying very hard to relax my body/belly and take deep abdominal breaths but I was instead breathing very hard and quickly and tensing up my face, feet, belly, etc. I could not figure them out or find a good position (I was trying all the positions we learned in class) and after several rounds of these contractions and of these negative thoughts and failed attempts to be “successful in labor” I started to cry. I told Oatmeal “I can’t do this anymore, it’s too hard” and he reassured me that I could and got Tara to come in and check me again, knowing that the signs I was showing meant that I was probably nearing the end. I was at 7cm (I think this was at about 2am) which was progress but I was still upset. I started to feel like I needed to go to the restroom with each contraction. I was confused by this since I knew I had just been checked and was only 7cm and I thought you only felt that sensation when it was truly time to push. I’d be halfway through a contraction and say, “I need to go to the toilet!” but it would hurt so bad I couldn’t move and then afterward I’d go sit on the toilet anyway but by then I’d feel much better and not feel the need to use the restroom at all. (It is AMAZING how normal you feel between contractions. It’s (almost) like nothing is wrong! That’s what kept me going through this hard part.) The contractions were so hard that I was literally fighting them and groaning, which made me feel really unladylike and sort of embarrassed, but I could not help it. Soon I realized I was sort of feeling a pretty serious urge to bear down and wondered if I’d dilated quickly to a 10, so Tara checked me again. I was 9cm and she said I still had a bit of cervix in the way and it was still not time to push. She told me, “Try not to push but let let me know if you can’t help it, I don’t want you having the baby in the toilet!” Another thirty minutes or so went by and I could not keep from pushing during contractions (I’d literally squat and sort of take a deep breath and lightly push just because it made me feel better) no matter what I did, so she checked me again and said that there was still cervix in the way but that since I was having so many uncontrollable urges to push, she would put her fingers in me during my next contraction and see if she could help move the small amount of cervix out of the way. So I laid in the bed and she did that and said it worked, and that if I wanted I could begin actually pushing. HALLELUJAH. It was 4am.

I got positioned in the bed and into the “classic” position (it actually never even occurred to me to try any other positions we were taught once we were in that moment… this is simply a position where you sort of recline on the bed with your knees pulled up similar to the way most women give birth) and she told me to hold my legs apart with my knees bent as far in as I could, take a deep breath, and hold my breath while pushing as hard as I could. Oatmeal reminded me to push to the point of comfort (another tip given in our class because pushing to comfort helps the woman to prevent a lot of tearing) and we did this for a few contractions. I couldn’t really feel the baby moving down like I thought I’d be able to, and it took me several contractions to get my coordination down, but they told me they could see head/hair moving closer and closer to them so I felt like I was doing okay. Tara told me that if I could do 2 really good sets of pushes during the next 2 contractions, she’d call the doctor and he’d be there in 20 minutes. (It was about 4:30am.) We joked that she was doing all the work and that he was just going to be there for the finale, which shows you that my mood & pain had improved significantly that I was about to push and make jokes! So it’s true- the transition is the hardest part and then it fades away as quickly as it appeared. Pushing, though still painful and tiring, is actually somewhat of a relief.

I pushed through a few more contractions, which was tough and burned a bit more and more with each push, and felt sort of like I was making no progress even though Tara and Oatmeal assured me I was. It hurt but not terrible like the labor before. Then our doctor arrived and with his presence came sort of an air of “Let’s do this!” I pushed several times for him and started to feel like I was getting the hang of it. They told me the baby was very close to crowning. He asked me if I wanted the pudenal shot (it’s a local anesthetic for the labia to make the “ring of fire” when the baby comes out tolerable) and in a weak moment I said yes sure shoot me up. The shot did not hurt, but I was surprised that I did not feel a change in my pain. I expected to feel relief but when I pushed next the baby was crowning, and I was shocked at the pain! I remember saying, ” WAIT IT STILL HURTS, THE SHOT ISN’T WORKING!” I think the doctor shrugged and I just realized I was so close that it didn’t matter. I pushed as hard as I could through the next few contractions, mentally thinking, “I know I should slow down so I don’t tear but I’m so over this and ready to see my baby!” I looked at Oatmeal, who I had originally thought would be that husband who stands behind the mother’s head and doesn’t look at anything, but instead he was looking right toward me/the baby and his face was literally beaming he was so excited. It was contagious. Soon her head was out (they told me, I couldn’t really feel anything but burning) and they told me I just needed one more big push…. and then came her little body. Girl!

I wish I could really recall the next 20 minutes with more detail, but the wave of endorphins was so incredible that I actually am somewhat foggy about what happened next. I just remember that suddenly a baby was in the air, being held by my doctor, and I saw the cord and the next moment she was on my chest. She was soooo warm, and a little wet but not bad, and she was wriggling everywhere. I couldn’t believe it! I don’t remember the cord cutting or really anything, I was just so excited and overwhelmed and relieved that I all I could do was look at her, and at Oatmeal, and back at her. She wriggled her little body across my chest to my left side and latched to nurse all on her own. It was truly the most amazing thing.

Soon they took her to a side table to clean her off and Oatmeal followed them to watch her. I realized I was trembling uncontrollably. I delivered the placenta which was not painful at all, and then the Dr. stitched me up, which WAS painful. (Stupid pudenal shot still had not kicked in!)

Our plan was to not get any vaccinnations or antibiotics in the hospital. Most hospitals give newborns a Hep B shot, which we declined. The nurses didn’t give us any trouble about that. We had also hoped to decline the antibiotic eyedrops as well. I’d done some research, and as it turns out, these eyedrops are to protect the baby’s eyes should the mother have a sexually transmitted disease (gonorrhea). If a mother has this STD she can pass it to her child during vaginal birth and it can lead to blindness. The nurses tried to tell Oatmeal that our baby “Needed the eyedrops because it would make her dry eyes feel good.” Oatmeal told them that he knew the real reason for the eyedrops was for STDs and he felt like that didn’t apply to us. The nurses were flustered and finally mentioned that it was a state law. (Which, in my opinion, is ridiculous!) We ended up getting the eyedrops because it seemed like a lost cause, but the staff was completely respectful of our denial of the rest of the vaccinations so that was nice. We’ll get the vaccinations later, but shooting my kid up with Hep B vaccination seemed pretty pointless to me since I am pretty sure she wouldn’t be exposed to prostitutes, contaminated needles, or anyone who has the disease in her first few weeks of life.

I’m sure all the nurses thought “yeah right” when we walked in with a birth plan, but AFTER the birth we got lots of compliments and praise from them. They were all saying things like, “Wow you did great! Look how alert your baby is, you can always tell the natural babies from the drugged ones. It really is a lot better on mama and baby in the long run to go natural but most people can’t do it.” I didn’t go through all that to impress a bunch of strangers, but I still took the compliments to heart! We were soon moved to our own hospital room, and now we’ve been at home with Baby Poppyseed for 2 weeks! We are SO BLESSED to have a healthy, beautiful baby girl.

So… here’s a little bit of honesty.

Would I do it again?

If you’d asked me an hour after it was over… the answer would have been “HELL NO.”

If you’d asked me a day after it was over… the answer would have been “Probably… not.”

If you’d asked me several days after it was over… the answer was different and is the same as it is today. Yes, I’d do it again, but I’d do it in a birthing center or at home (assuming I lived in a home closer to a hospital, which I don’t right now). In my personal experience, I think it would have been easier had we had a doula/midwife in addition to Oatmeal. Oatmeal was awesome and a huge support, but it was our first time. We lacked a lot of experience and it would have been nice to have a “natural childbirth expert” in the room to recommend positions, massages, breathing tips, etc. Plus, the setting of the hospital wasn’t bad, but it could have been more comfortable. The whole time I was in labor I kept thinking, “Gosh I’d really like to get in the water/shower/tub somehow…” but there was only a shower in the labor/delivery room and it actually had a bunch of chairs and such stacked inside of it. I didn’t want Oatmeal to walk over there to empty it because doing so would mean I had to be alone through a contraction or two. I’d considered a doula before going to the hospital, but I decided against it because I wanted it to be something that only Oatmeal and I did together. I don’t regret it at all, but now that it’s all water under the bridge, I’d have a third person there for my second kid.

Welp, that’s it. That’s sweet Violet’s birth story. 🙂

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  1. Sheila says:

    love your birth story! makes me think about paxtons and wonder how this next one will go. thanks for sharing!

  2. Sarah Copes says:

    That was a great birth story! We didnt do Hep B either!

  3. Congrats! you did awesome! I’ve been through a few natural births and when I read natural birth stories, I literally feel mini-contractions just thinking about it, and I love that endorphin rush after! So happy for you guys and she is precious!

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