Jack’s birth story begins with Hemi’s birth story. I have always been a fan of trusting my body, so I innately prefer a natural childbirth over a medicated childbirth. With Hemi, I did not take any natural childbirth classes or read any natural childbirth books, just the took the childbirth class suggested and read the literature supplied by my doctor… beyond that, I was just going to trust my body and the process that millions of women in time have done successfully.

This method does not work well if you want a natural childbirth in a hospital. With Hemi I arrived too early to the hospital and “failed to progress” according to their schedule. As a result of my naiveté, all my fear and self-doubt buttons were pushed. I consented to four procedures (including an epidural) before Hemi was born.

In hindsight, and after reviewing the medical literature, none of these procedures were medically necessary to producing a healthy outcome. They were just things the hospital could bill insurance for.

So with Jack I read more on natural childbirth and reviewed the medical literature before blindly accepting what doctors or nurses said. The biggest help was “Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way” by Susan McCutcheon. In addition to not fighting contractions by tensing up, the most important thing you learn in this book is the emotional signposts of labor, which are far more telling than physical signposts (# centimeters dilated, position of baby, etc) of when the baby will arrive.

I had never heard of these. The first is excitement… “today’s the day!”. The second is seriousness… a woman can not be distracted, she need to full concentration to get through contractions and relax in-between. The final signpost is self-doubt… you don’t think you can do this.

My prenatal doctor is really a low-key and practical woman. Her biggest suggestion to have a natural childbirth was to stay home as long as possible, get most of the labor done at home and avoid the whole hospital scene. The plan was to go in when my contractions were about three minutes apart and at least a minute long (and in the serious emotional signpost).

On Wednesday, 23 September 2009, I was having strong but brief contractions throughout the night. When I woke in the morning, I went to work. While at work, I had more strong but brief contractions about eight minutes apart. It was not a bother.

I went home for lunch around 1:00pm. I decided not to get back to work at 1:30pm, my contractions were six minutes apart and only 30 seconds long. No sweat. I even “facebooked” that today might be the day. EMOTIONAL SIGNPOST: Excitement.

Sometime afterward I drifted into the serious emotional signpost. At 3:20 my husband called the doctor as we had to make sure there was a bed available at our preferred hospital. My contractions were 5 minutes apart and a minute long (below my threshold for going in). The doctor said we could come see her, stay home, or go to the hospital. I chose to go see her.

Before getting in the car, I had get my shoes on and stuff between contractions which had suddenly jumped to two minutes apart. I didn’t think I could do this. EMOTIONAL SIGNPOST: Self doubt. I knew I was getting wishy-washy, we called the doctor back and said we were going straight to the hospital.

The hospital is a 20 minute drive away. About 5 minutes into the ride, I began to have a pushing contraction. It was a tremendous urge… like your body wanting to push the biggest bowel movement ever out of your body. I thought I had “pooped” when the contraction was over and announced to my husband that I had… but then I felt wet everywhere and the sting of salty water.

I had pushing contractions all the way to the hospital, but I didn’t tell my husband as he would have freaked and anyway I was too busy trying to relax between contractions. I was too busy to recall what door we were supposed to go to so we pulled up to the emergency entrance. A volunteer was by the door with a wheelchair. I got in. The emergency room was on the opposite end of the hospital from the maternity ward.

All the way I was having strong pushing contractions. During one I felt my legs pull apart, I reached down and could feel a head. I announced, “I can feel a head!” as we approached the maternity ward. The nurse at the station said “She’s in Room 6.” “I don’t think we are going to make it to Room 6!” “Call a doctor!” “Doctor!” I was wheeled in to room 6, weakly stood up, pulled down my pants and pushed a 7.3 pound son out at 4:00pm! Amazing, only 3.5 hours of labor, including only 20 minutes of pushing!