Four weeks have gone by since I gave birth to my perfect baby boy James. It’s been a crazy four weeks that feels like one long blurry day. From other moms I have spoken to I hear this is fairly common.
People have been asking me how motherhood is going and I usually give a vague quick answer to them because I’m too tired to formulate a sentence that actually describes how I feel. I usually just say “It’s amazing!” “It’s hard, but worth it” or “I can’t believe I’m a mom!! It’s such a fun adventure”
And those things ARE true, they just don’t articulate how I actually feel. Ill try to explain in this post, but I’m not sure I can even do it justice.
When he’s laying on my chest looking up at me with those perfect blueish gray eyes, I think about how lucky I am that I get to love this baby. My whole life I’ve waited to be a mom and every time I gaze into his eyes I am overcome with feelings of pride, fear, joy and love.I feel like I was created to love this child and that my life finally has purpose. The life I lived before giving birth seems so irrelevant. It’s like the day he was born was also the first day of my life.
Four weeks ago my world was turned upside down and right now I’d love to be able to tell you all the story of how James came into this world!
Now I know most of you reading this may think I’m crazy but after the shock of the surprise pregnancy wore off I decided I wanted to give birth to my baby as naturally as possible. Which meant I wanted to steer clear of pain relieving drugs, and any other medical interventions.
Yes I knew that that meant I’d feel everything and yes I know that that sounds insane to most people.
To help you understand, let me tell you why I wanted to go this route.
First, to me, labor pains have purpose and should be experienced and not covered up. The pain isnt meant to hurt you. It’s there to get the baby out of you… So With each strong contraction I would feel, I knew I would be one step closer to holding and kissing my baby.
Second, I wanted a quicker labor and recovery for both me and my baby. Epidural’s are great but they can also make labor last longer resulting in a c-section and pitocin can speed things along but it can also put stress on the baby resulting in a c-section. And like most medicine there were chances of side effects that I just wanted to avoid. I had 4 weeks off before my first wedding… I didn’t have time for a c-section.
Third, I wanted to prove all of the naysayers wrong. A lot of people thought I was in over my head with this idea of a natural childbirth and that I’d cave and ask for an epidural. I wanted to prove them wrong. Lol. It sounds awful but doing it naturally was my way of giving everyone who didn’t think I was strong enough a metaphorical middle finger. I hear this is not a good reason to do it naturally, but it helped me 😂😂
Now my pregnancy wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t picture perfect either. I was diagnosed very early on with gestational diabetes which meant I was going to have to manage my sugar levels with diet and exercise to avoid having a super big baby.
I was also going to have to control the diabetes without medication because if I didn’t I would have to be induced at 38 weeks. An early delivery doesn’t sound so terrible, but The odds of delivering naturally with such an early induction weren’t so great. So to get the natural birth I wanted I was gonna have to work for it. Meaning eat right and exercise. Just what a pregnant woman wants to hear right??
“Hey you, pregnant woman who just got done throwing up from morning sickness. You’re gonna have to avoid everything you’re craving for the next 6 months”
“cool thanks doc. ”
You grow up picturing pregnancy to be the one time in your life where you can justify eating dessert and French fries at every single meal and it be okay because you’re pregnant! So this news was not my favorite news to hear. But, With a lot of hard work I stayed Un medicated and was able to go full term.
On my due date I had a doctors appointment and my blood pressure was too high and they decided it was time for me to have this baby. I was surprised and a tad frustrated but then I realized both me and baby could be in danger so I agreed it was time to have this baby.
So my mom took me home and I got everything ready. It was a weird feeling knowing It was the last time I’d shower without having a baby, the last time I’d be in my house without my baby. The last time I’d fee him kick inside my belly. Obviously I was excited but I was also crazy nervous. It wasn’t until my birth team assembled that I finally got my game face on!
Birth team? Oh. I’m glad you asked. A birth team is what I called the people helping me push out this kid.
We head our head coach, Aftan Hoffer. She was in charge of helping me get through contractions through relaxation. Massage, counter pressure, positive affirmations, and if necessary she woud run defense should the doctors challenge my wishes at any point.
We then had two assistant coaches, Debbie fisher, alias Grammy, and Michael Sugar, also know as Sugar daddy. (Just to clarify we call him sugar daddy because of his last name not because he’s an old man who buys me loubotin shoes)
The assistant coaches were in charge of encouragement, timing contractions, driving to the hospital, and stepping in when the head coach needed a break. I also hired the amazing Val Stoltzfus to photograph the event. Her job was pretty self explanatory.
Once We all arrived at the hospital we checked in and got settled. The midwife came in eventually and after reading my birth plan decided because I was already 2 cm dilated and didn’t want pitocin a foley bulb would be the best way to induce.
Birth plan?? Yes! Let me explain.
So a birth plan is something you write up so the hospital staff knows in advance what you hope for when in labor. For instance they should know if you plan on having an epidural, if you want to use the jacuzzi tub, if you want to be free of any cords and monitoring during labor, and other fun things like that. It’s basically a list of things you do and do not want during labor and delivery.I loved how the nurses and midwives at woman and babies and may grant really listened to what I wanted and respected almost all of my wishes.
Obviously with a birth plan you can’t expect everything to go as you planned. That would lead to a ton of disappointment. But for me everything happened almost to plan.
Okay so back to the induction.
They inserted the balloon at 7:00 pm and all I had to do was wait until it fell out. I was told it would fall out around 4-5 cm and that it might take awhile. So to speed things along I went for a walk, visited my friend Carrie, who gave birth to her son naturally the day before and was in the same hospital. At this point I was feeling waves of minor cramps which gave me good practice on how to relax during real contractions. I felt different, but nothing was painful.
At midnight I sent sugar daddy home to get a good nights sleep and the rest of us settled into bed. I figured nothing major was going to happen until late the next morning.
Around 3 am I started to feel a little uncomfortable so I got up to go to the bathroom again and while I was in there the balloon fell out!!
This obviously shocked me because I wasn’t really feeling anything painful. I had cramps but I figured that was normal since the balloon that was put in was there to create pressure. We called in the nurse and midwife so they could check me and to their surprise and mine I had dilated to 7 cm!
Now for those of you who don’t know the labor process this information was very exciting news to hear especially to a first time mom. First time mom’s bodies don’t always respond to labor quickly and to get to 7cm sometimes takes 30 hours of laboring. This is what I was planning on happening so to hear this news was music to my ears. I knew at this point I was actually going to do this without an epidural.
The midwife saw on my birth plan that I wanted to let my waters break naturally but we both decided that breaking my water would help my contractions take off and become stronger and more effective. So with a quick sweep I felt my water break! I started to panic because I needed to call Michael and Val to have them come back in! The nursing staff was also buzzing around prepping the room for delivery! The energy was so exciting and a rush of adrenaline overcame me. It was game time!!
From this point on most everything was a blur. I remember having a ton of back pain so my sister, bless her heart, had to use counter pressure for hours. Im pretty sure she sprained her wrist helping me get through my contractions.
I tried laboring in tons of positions that we practiced but the most effective one for me was straddling the toilet backwards with a pillow under my head to rest in between contractions. I also loved floating in the jacuzzi tub. After changing positions one too many times I threw up and started shaking, which I knew was a sign that I was close to the end. I actually remember smiling to myself because I knew pushing was coming soon.
Around 7:30am I got back into the tub to relax. The contractions at first were double peeking and then started spacing out to about 5 minutes apart and in between contractions I actually fell asleep. This was my transition. It was so peaceful.
The second time in the tub was the most peaceful I felt the entire labor. The contractions were strong but the rest was tranquil. Thankfully I had music playing during my whole labor that kept me focused and at peace. Jonathan and Melissa Helser’s album “long story short” created such a perfect environment for me.
While in the tub I started getting contractions that had my body pushing with them. I knew it was time to get out of the tub but I kept asking the midwife for more time in the peaceful water. After 4 more contractions I made my way to the bed and continued letting my body take control and when it would push I would also push. After 20 minutes the midwife asked if she could take a look to see if anything was blocking him from coming down. She found that part of my cervix was caught on his head and she asked if I wanted her to move it or if I wanted him to work through it. She explained that if she moved it, it would be super painful but he’d come faster, and if he moved it, it could take a lot longer. I decided I was already feeling the strength of the contractions what difference did it make plus I wanted to see my baby now!! I also wanted to be done! The quicker the better!
With the next contraction that came she pushed aside my cervix and at that exact moment I wanted to kick her straight in the face. She was right. This was painful. I didn’t regret my decision until she told me she had to do it again. When she was up there the second time the contraction was so powerful that I asked her politely to exit me immediately.
Jk I screamed “get out of there. Get out get out!!! I don’t like this”
But she was right. Once he was free to come down the birth canal things got real. Like really real.
I sat up. My eyes got huge and I screamed “ohhhhh shiiiit”.
This was the pain I was waiting for. This was the hard part I knew was coming. This was the surrendering that I was told I’d have to do.
This was the moment during labor where I actually thought to myself. “What the heck were you thinking Lauren. Why on earth did you want to feel this?!?!?!”
At this point I was making very loud noises that couldn’t be duplicated if I tried. I screamed during contractions and pushed with everything I had in me. In between contractions I kept saying I didn’t like this but never once did I ask for something to help with the pain. I knew I could do it. I just had to give into my body.
My nurse Lindsay brought over a mirror and positioned it so I could see my babys head coming out. This may sound gross to most of you but to me it helped me to see the whole process and helped me push even when I wanted to stop. The pain was overwhelmingly powerful and felt like I had a concrete block trying to make its way out of my bottom. I hated pushing. Seriously. It sucked so bad.
After 15 minutes his head made his way out and with one more push the rest of him came flying out! At 9:09 am The midwife literally had to catch him!! I immediately felt the relief of all pain. I did it.
My jaw dropped when he came. I couldn’t believe I did it. He was here!!!
Seconds after he came out they handed him to the n.i.c.u. Doctor who suctioned all the fluid out. The little stinker decided to take a poop inside of the uterus instead of waiting until he got out.
While he was over at the heater by my bed Michael trimmed up the umbilical cord and they cleaned him off and then placed him right on my chest. In that moment I felt his warmth on my chest and it felt just how I envisioned it would feel. My baby was finally in my arms and I could finally kiss his little face. I’ve waited for this exact moment since I was a little girl and to finally experience it was overwhelming. Tears filled my eyes and my heart felt like it could explode. I felt what every other mom was telling me id feel. After some cuddles I took a good hard look at him and decided that his dad was right and he did in fact look like a James.
After James nursed for 45 minutes I handed James over to his dad for some cuddles. We couldn’t believe we made such a perfect baby!!
My labor and delivery were as close to perfect as it could have been and I couldn’t have achieved that without my sister. She attended the Bradly method birth classes with me for 12 weeks straight and Knew exactly what I needed when I needed it and l helped me relax through the pain. Most of my labor was painless or close to it and it was because of her and the techniques we learned in our classes. She’s amazing and both James and I are so lucky to have her.
Here’s a video that shows photos from James’ birth.
xoxo, Lauren and James.