January 16, 2015

Elle’s Natural Birth Part 2: The Hospital…The First Time Around

If you haven’t read Part 1 to my wonderful birth story you can check it out here:

Now on to part 2…

Natural Birth

My pregnancy with Elle was uneventful.  I had typical symptoms and my usual sciatic pain, but nothing unbearable.  Just as with my son, I thankfully never got to the point where I was miserable being pregnant…which is a good thing because I was going to be pregnant foreeeever.

My doula told me she thought I’d go to my due date, if not beyond, but several of my friends had their second babies early so I was convinced I would too.  Let’s just say I packed my hospital bag a bit prematurely…and didn’t end up using it for another 7 weeks.   Shoulda listened to the doula!

Anyway, my due date came and went and I had to give up my silly notion that I was going to deliver early.  Even still, I wasn’t really that impatient.  Sure, I was incredibly tired (3rd trimester exhaustion is no joke) and sore (I’m on the petite side so I carry really far out), but truthfully, I really enjoy being pregnant.  I’m carrying life…what a blessing!  Also, I so badly wanted to avoid induction this time around that every day I didn’t have to be induced was a great day in my book.

And so I waited.  And walked and walked and walked (partially to “walk the baby out”, but also to make myself feel better about all of the chocolate I was eating).  41 weeks came…I was 3cm dilated.  Woop! Any day now right?  Nope. Not really.

I started getting the “Woah!! You’re still pregnant?!” comments.  I mean, what would you say if you saw this walking waddling around?

Third trimester pregnant belly

I know some pregnant ladies can’t stand being asked that, but those comments didn’t really bother me.  It was when people started asking about (or even suggesting) induction that I began to get annoyed. Why was everyone in such a hurry to rush my baby out!?  Didn’t they know that induction increases your chances of complications dramatically?  Maybe they didn’t….maybe it’s not really common knowledge…but I knew that and I hated the insinuations that I would be a lot happier if I just hurried up and got this baby out.  I had gone through induction before and I was much more inclined to be pregnant “forever” than go down that road again.

At 41 weeks 5 days, I had a midwife appointment.  With the 42 week mark looming ahead of me, I chose to get a membrane sweep to see if it would get things going…and it did!  By 1:00 AM I noticed I was having contractions…real contractions, not just the braxton hicks I’d been having for weeks. Yesssss!  I gave up trying to sleep and just enjoyed laboring by myself in the quiet of my living room.  Yes, I said enjoyed, because when you’re ten months pregnant, you actually like labor pains!  I let Allen keep on sleeping, so at least one of us could get some rest, while I spent most of the time on my big exercise ball, peacefully relaxing through contractions.

At this point I became convinced that I would be one of those calm, “zen” birthers…ahem, no.  This is a more accurate portrayal of my laboring self:

Photo credit: baboon™ / Foter / CC BY-NC

But more on that later…

By  6:00 AM my contractions were quite strong and consistently coming about every 2-3 minutes…it was time to go to the hospital!  Things slowed down some once we got there, but they checked me and I was 5-6 cm dilated so I wasn’t too discouraged.  Wooohoo!  I was officially in active labor!  I figured things would pick back up as soon as I was comfortable and settled in my own room.  Since this was my second birth, I thought surely I’d be holding my baby within a few short hours.

Boy was I wrong!  Over the course of the morning, contractions just kept spacing out more and more.  I asked my midwife why this was happening and she said that sometimes, hospitals just kill labor.  My doula suggested walking to get things going again so we hopped to it!

We walked walked and walked until I could have basically told you how many tiles were on that hallway floor.  Things were slowly picking back up, but not enough to satisfy me, so we headed to the parking garage to do some stairs (bet my doula didn’t expect to get such a workout that day!)  We were quite the sight — a group of 3 people led by a huffing and puffing enormously preggo lady, going up and down, up and down…I would have loved to hear what people had to say once they were out of ear shot!

By afternoon, I was having contractions again, but still not every 2-3 minutes like I had been at home. Evening came around and the contractions had spaced out to 10-15 minutes apart.  At this point, I was worn out and disheartened!  I was also very emotional…I missed my son so much and I really just wanted to go home and rest.  As odd as it sounds, I felt homesick.  (Looking back, I think this was my body’s way of saying GO HOME…that was, after all, where my labor had been most effective.)

Natural birth
(for me, anyway)

My midwife checked me and said I was almost 7 cm and really on the cusp of giving birth.  That should have encouraged me, but all I heard was that after a full day of laboring, I had only progressed 1 cm!  At this point, many doctors would have suggested pitocin to speed things up, but my midwife knew how much I wanted to avoid pit, and also trusted my body’s timeline.  Instead, she gave me 3 options:

1) Break my water to get things going

2) Let my labor continue to space out and sleep at the hospital 

3) Go home and sleep and come back when things picked up again

 I declined option 1, as I wasn’t comfortable with the idea (especially since I’d spent my whole pregnancy trying to keep my membranes intact).  That left me with options 2 and 3.  I was fed up of being in that room and I figured if my options were rest at the hospital or rest at home, I’d be crazy to not go home!

So we packed up our things and home we went!  Some people can’t believe that my midwife discharged me when I was a whole 7cm dilated, but this is one of the reasons I loved being under midwifery care…they trust the women’s body and a laboring women’s intuition.  They told me to go home and rest, but also gave me firm instructions that if my water broke, I should head back to the hospital immediately.  It’s almost like they knew…

Photo credit: jess.tarr / Foter / CC BY-ND




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Iulia is a former educator turned stay-at-home mama of a spunky toddler and a squishy infant. With a touch of sass and a good dose of self-deprecating humor, she has an ever-expanding repertoire of bloopers, insights, stories, and impassioned opinions to share. Iulia likes to think she has this parenting gig figured out, but her littles remind her daily just how far from the truth that is.

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