Friday, December 12, 2014

Being Pregnant and Giving Birth: My Personal Experience, Part 3

Continued from Part 2

So, we're back in labor and delivery, presumably to have a baby this time.  The doctor at the clinic hold told me that she estimated my delivery would occur by that night if not within the next few hours.  A few hours passed, and so did the night.  Still no baby.  I hadn't even reached a point where I could begin to push, as it seemed like that last centimeter of dilation that's required just wasn't happening. I stayed at 9 cm for the longest. I spent that night pacing around, lying down when I could stand to, and trying to figure out why in the world the pressure felt so intense back there. I mean, was my understanding of where a baby comes out all wrong? It sure did feel like it.

It was now Tuesday.  By this point I just knew the baby was coming out that morning.  The doctor who'd be helping me deliver was still there and she'd been in and out of my room checking on me.  She kept examinations of my cervix to a minimum in order to prevent the possible introduction of bacteria, and although I appreciated it and knew it was the right thing (I'd thoroughly researched the whole time I was pregnant and knew that I shouldn't constantly be being checked for dilation/effacement), I was on the verge of begging her to check every time she came in.  The pressure. It was just so overwhelming, and I swore my body was gonna explode if I couldn't push soon  Now, up to this point my contractions had become much more intense, so the couple of times that she did check, we were all surprised to learn that I hadn't made any progression.  The baby just was not trying to come.

Around ten something she checked me one last time, and I had finally made it to 10 cm.  Although this was the case, my cervix hadn't thinned out completely, but the doctor told me we could work our way around that, as the amount remaining was extremely minimal.  At that point the clock read 11:15 am or so.  It was time to push! The doctor was tending to other patients, so I had the nurse and my partner helping me.  With the coming of each contraction, I'd breathe in and push out while they counted to 10 out loud and I did so in my head. We did this on and off for two hours, yet there was still no baby. No visible hair. No nothing.  Just still pressure.

It wasn't until I was about to check out of the hospital a couple of days later that I realized I'd broken vessels in my eyes from all that intense pushing.  It had been mentioned to me, but I didn't have the energy to look in the mirror or care. 

During those two hours, I assumed every position for pushing that I'd learned about: squatting with the bar attached to the bed, squatting without the bar, on my side, on my hands and knees, on my back.  I'd even bounced up and down on a birthing ball hoping that would inspire baby to come out.  It didn't.  Even the doctor was starting to look discouraged.  She'd mentioned something about a C-section earlier in the day, but she KNEW I wasn't going for that.  I'd submitted a birth plan that was so thorough, and one of the main points was that I was not looking to have a C-section.  My pregnancy was not high-risk and I had had no problems in nine months.  Unless the baby's or my life was at risk, then a C-section wasn't even in the equation.  Just the fact that my baby didn't seem ready to come out wasn't cause enough for me to go under the knife.  I understood that hospitals have schedules and they've gotta keep things moving, however I wasn't willing to be subject to their system in that way.

My delivery doctor was great, though.  She wasn't trying to pressure me into anything.  She was simply explaining all options available.  I was already five days past the due date, I wasn't making much progress, and I was nearly out of energy. It was as though she wanted me to have the baby just as much as I did, and each time she entered the room while I was in the process of pushing, I could see a genuine look of concern on her face when she saw that baby's head still wasn't even even visible.

At that point it was time to take a break.  I was beyond exhausted, as I still hadn't slept since Friday night. Rest was something I needed, and I needed it badly.  It was clear to me that if I could just get half an hour of sleep--or even just rest--I could deliver my baby.   But the pressure had me out of my mind.  People always talk about pain associated with labor.  And it is painful.  But for nineteen years of my life I had menstrual cramps that were much worse than the labor pains I felt, and several years ago I stopped medicating cramps and started dealing with them naturally.  So, I could handle with the pain.  But if the pressure I felt got any more serious, it was vivid in my mind how my body would blow to pieces right there in that room.

I intended for my birthing experience to be as natural as possible.  Drugs of any kind were not something that  I'd wanted to deal with, and since my tolerance for pain is pretty high, I was certain that pain-related drugs wouldn't be necessary. And they weren't.  But the nurses and doctors had previously brought up the subject of an epidural, and around this time they were bringing it up again.  Their position was that If I were willing to get an epidural, then they were sure it would allow me to relax enough to go ahead and deliver.  They stated how amazed they were that, up to that point, I'd had no pain relief and was dealing with this on my own.  (I'm sure they'd seen all sorts of behavior in delivery rooms, but something about my pacing around that room naked--I couldn't stand anything touching me--, sitting on the bed rocking and humming, and squatting on the floor every now and then probably had them thinking I was some sort of mystical "voodoo woman".  Not to mention my hair was all over my head. And they knew I'm originally from Louisiana.)

I'd read all about the possible side effects of epidurals, how the anesthesia gets in your blood stream and the placenta and can harm the baby.  Plus, having a needle inserted near my spinal cord wasn't something that seemed logical to me at all.  But some how, some way, and for some reason--despite all my convictions about keeping things natural in all that I do--intuition let me know that if I agreed to get this drug, both me and baby would be perfectly fine.  It was ok.  So, I agreed.  I got an epidural around 1:40 p.m., and it did stop any pain I was having--at least for a short time--and allowed me to focus more on resting.  I was relaxed.  It even took my mind off the pressure some, although it was definitely still there.

Within 20 minutes of that, though, I was all but screaming for the doctor. The baby was coming and I was certain of it.

I had mustered up enough energy, and I was ready to push once again. During the process I saw the doctor's face light up as she yelled out something like, "There's the hair!" Everyone was right there encouraging me to keep pushing, but they didn't have to tell me. In that moment I felt like my divine calling on Earth was to push out babies, and nothing was gonna stop me now.  The process went so fast in that moment, and at 2:23 pm, we had a baby girl! They laid her on my stomach, and she looked up at me--head straight up and neck so strong--as if to find out why we were all on her case about coming out. It was amazing. She was lovely and long. 21 inches and 8 pounds, 2.6 ounces. I had definitely been "all baby".

A few days old.  

The doctor seemed on the verge of tears.  She was so happy.  I think she'd probably seen numerous many women in my position go ahead and opt for the C-section, because the labor/birth process really can be exhausting and inspires a feeling of hopelessness when you're already over due and baby just isn't coming. But that last time she came in the room before I delivered and she saw the first appearance of the baby's head, she was in disbelief.  I'd said my baby was coming out the way she was supposed to, and she did.   Thankfully she did come out within less than an hour after I'd had that epidural.  Less time for it to affect her negatively, I theorized.  Maybe that's ran her out of there!

Either way, we're beyond joyed that she's here.  It was rough (and my recovery is another story), but I'm so glad I was able to get through.  

Every single day she wakes up smiling and laughing, and that lasts throughout the day.  What a beautiful gift! 

I usually don't post pictures of her full face online, but I can't resist with the one above and these:

Three months old.

4 months


Thanks for reading!


  1. You know I delivered a few weeks before you and I wanted to have her naturally . Nothing I did would get to come out. I cried like a baby when three doctors told me that I had to have a c-section because my heart couldn't take the stress. Your baby girl is beautiful

  2. thanks, carla! so is yours. :-D yeah, i do know what you mean, because baby girl did not seem to want to budge at all. i was so terrified at the thought of having to have a c-section, but unfortunately if all else had failed and her being so many days passed due had become a health risk to her or me,--which was possible--I would have done it as well. in the end, it's all about getting the baby out, we do what we need to do, and for me that's what the epidural was about, thankfully it allowed me the strength to push some more and birth her. i supposed we have to be grateful the procedures like c-sections exist for those times when they're beneficial.

  3. I would be interested in hearing about how you treat your cramps naturally, I found that cramps made contractions manageable for me too, it was not as bad as what I have had before!

  4. i used various herbs including red raspberry and chamomile, but one of the tactics that helped tremendously was heat applied over the uterus. this was done mainly using a heating pad. a tip I got from a queen afua book as to apply castor oil to a heated cloth and place that over the abdomen. that helps me out as well. probably one of the significant things I did was to pay attention to what I ate leading up to menstruation...maybe a week or so before. i made an effort to cut back on heavier foods and increase my intake of green smoothies and raw vegetable such as salads. I found that foods like bread or bready dishes made it worse for me. something about the colon being lighter caused there to be less pressure on the uterus. I believe queen afua talks about this in her book(s) as well. I don't eat meat or dairy, because I've read that this affects menstruation negatively as well. (I became vegetarian then vegan over 11 yrs ago to see if it would help improve the monthly issue I was having it did.)

    oh, and hot baths!! that was my go to relief all the time. works wonderfully. i'd get in the tub 2-3 times a day if needed.

    i'm so glad to be speaking about this in past terms, since I haven't had to deal with it in over a year. I do not miss it at all, and not having to deal with it was certainly one of the highlights of being pregnant.


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