May 16, 2006 (the day before Moses was born)
Moses was 8 days overdue and was scheduled for an induction on May 19. I was 2cm dilated and 90% effaced. I tried to talk to our doctor about getting an extension on the induction date, but she wouldn’t budge. I was very concerned about going for an induction because I had heard that it was more difficult to have a natural delivery after having an induction. After trying everything (or so it seemed) to get labour started (stair walking, bumpy car rides, two acupuncture appointments, herbal concoctions, talking to Moses, talking to my body, talking to Spirit, etc….), I decided that the next morning, I would try the castor oil induction (which I heard could be brutal due to the diarrhea that it may cause, but I was getting desperate).
That night, I cried and was quite emotional because I was wondering if I was in some way preventing labour from starting. Was I scared? Was I just not ready? I had a good cry and created a birth collage with intentions for how I wanted the birth to go. (i.e., that I would be supported, that my body knew how to give birth, that the birth would be what it will be). I talked to my good friend, Shelley, and she said that she would do some long-distance Reiki on me that evening.
May 17, 2006 (Moses’ birth day)
I went to bed and was up several times during the night with stomach cramps. I woke up at 5:00 am with more intense stomach cramps and noticed that I had leaked some clear fluid (I didn’t quite know at the time that it was the first sign my water had broke). DH got up at 6:00 am and I told him about my stomach cramps and that I wouldn’t be taking castor oil if these cramps continued. DH could tell that I was not feeling myself and he decided to stay home to be with me. After leaking more of this liquid and after consulting with the internet re: water breaking, at about 6:30 am, we finally figured that my water had broken. (Duh…) Then we decided to time the length between the stomach cramps and found out that they were coming irregularly between 5 to 8 minutes apart! Woohoo!! Labour had started! I sent out an email to my “birth angels” (friends who I had asked to hold space and say prayers during my labour and to light a candle) and we called our moms. (My mom wasn’t surprised by my call because she had a dream the night before that Moses was born). We rested in bed for a little while – trying to get more sleep, but sleep didn’t come.
We’d planned to labour as long as possible at home, but being that my water broke, DH thought it would be a good idea to call the hospital and get their opinion. Sure enough, they suggested that we come in for an assessment. I didn’t want to go to the hospital so soon, but the nurse said that we would be free to leave the hospital after the assessment if all looked well.
9 am: We got our bags packed and while DH was outside packing the car, I was already doubling over on the couch in pain and crying. I was surprised that the contractions were already so intense so early in the labour. This scared me.
We drove to the hospital and I had about 3 contractions during the ride to the hospital. I already needed to be quiet and go inside during the contractions.
10 am: We arrived at the hospital and I laboured in the waiting room for about an hour. The contractions were about 5 minutes apart. I needed DH’s support (holding onto his hands) during the contractions.
11 am: I was assessed and was a “stretchy 4 cm” dilated. The doctor asked me if I wanted pitocin to really get the labour kicked in to high gear. I declined. She said that they would give me until around 7 pm, but would induce me with pitocin if labour didn’t really get started by then. As a result, I had a pretty strong intention for labour to go quickly on its own.
We were still debating on whether to go home to labour further or to stay in the hospital. We decided to stay because I didn’t want to do anymore labouring in the car and wanted to ensure that we got a hospital room. (My hesitation about staying was that I was a bit scared that my labour would stall being at the hospital – happily, this didn’t happen). Shelley arrived at the triage room and I had lunch.
11:30 am: I was happy to get settled in the room so that we could make the space a “safe and sacred space”. When I asked that the birthing stool be made available, I was first told that no one ever used them and they probably didn’t have them anymore. Thankfully, the nurse was able to find one, which was fortunate because I later made use of it in the shower.
By this time, my contractions were coming every 4-5 minutes or so and felt quite intense to me. I would lean over the couch and DH would hold one hand. In the other hand, I held my “birth egg” – an egg symbol that a friend has given me and that I was using to support me in labour. I also wore a “birth” bracelet that Shelley had made for me. We also tried a hot water bottle on my belly or back, which seemed to provide some relief. While these contractions were happening, a nurse-in-training was asking me questions so that she could fill out the proper paperwork. She told me that although she hadn’t witnessed many births, she could tell that DH and I had been to prenatal classes by the way that we were handling the contractions. [We had taken Birthing from Within classes. I highly recommend both the book and the classes].
I drank A LOT of water during labour (approximately 4 L — I normally drink a lot of water, but not that much in such a short time. I’d read that it was important to stay hydrated during labour, but I guess I took it to the extreme). [The doctors later said that Moses' sodium level was low and they think all of the water that I drank during labour affected it].
1:00 pm: I laboured in the shower for 4 hours (so I was told — I’d lost track of time by this point). [I would have tried a bath, had a bath been available in the room.] DH sat outside of the shower and showered my back or belly depending on where I needed the warmth. I started in the shower sitting down, which was not the most comfortable position, but was made more comfortable with the “gardening cushions” that one of the nurses brought. The water was amazing. It felt healing to me and I was able to go inside and be internal inside the walls of the shower. We played a beautiful healing and meditative song, “Returning” by Jennifer Berezan over and over and over again… ”Returning, Returning, Returning to the Mother of us All” for the entire labour except for a brief time that a “Birthing” CD was played, which had dolphin sounds.
To cope with the contractions, I was telling myself affirmations in my head (“I am being supported”. “Spirit, please relieve some of this sensation”.) After a while, I told DH to repeat what I was saying and for 3 hours, DH and I co-chanted the affirmations that I needed to hear. After a while, DH continued with the affirmations on his own when I didn’t have the energy to say them anymore.
I held my birth egg the entire time and DH’s hand with the other. Shelley was also in the room with us, doing energy work on me and making comforting “sighing” sounds. Shelley was amazing – getting more water when I needed it and providing whatever support was necessary.
After some time, I no longer felt comfortable sitting on the floor of the shower and asked for the birthing stool, and continued to labour in the shower on the birthing stool. I asked, “Would I know when it was time to push?”. The nurse said that I would know because I would feel like pushing. While on the birthing stool, the nurse checked me and I was 7 cm dilated.
The contractions were becoming more and more intense and at a certain point, I screamed out in pain and grabbed onto DH, coming off of the birthing stool and half out of the shower. It felt as though labour was changing. The nurse suggested getting me out of shower and I slowly made it out of the shower, holding onto DH in a type of “slow dance” to the bed. Once on the bed, I instinctively went to a sidelying position. I felt as though Moses was coming quickly and I wanted to slow down the process.
I soon felt like pushing. This was the most excruciating part of the labour because the nurses didn’t allow me to push yet. It felt awful not to be able to go with the feelings of my body. I vocalized and screamed a lot during this stage. They checked me again and I was “9.75 cm” dilated. [What does that even mean?]. During the examination, the nurse helped by manually pushing some of the uterus out of the way.
I was finally 10 cm and it was time to push. DH estimates that it took about 12 pushing contractions for Moses to be delivered. My first few pushes were side-lying and weren’t very effective in the nurse’s opinion, so I was coached into a semi-sitting position. I resisted going into semi-sitting because I knew that it’s not the best position to labour in, but I was quite tired at this point and was open to suggestion. Because I was so tired, I couldn’t imagine labouring in any other position besides side-lying or semi-sitting. (Unfortunately, I felt that I didn’t have the energy to squat). In retrospect, I think I should have stayed in a side-lying position because this was the position my body intuitively chose and suspect that some of the complications that followed (Moses’ heart beat decelerations and my episiotomy) wouldn’t have happened if I’d stayed in that position. And the labour would have been slower. I felt a lot of pressure to push Moses out as fast as possible rather than go with my body’s timing.
I started vocalizing quite a bit during the pushing, and the nurse advised me to use my energy more for pushing and less for vocalizing. This turned out to be good advice because my pushing was more effective when I didn’t vocalize as much.
[Warning: Feel free to skip this paragraph if you are easily grossed out -- this paragraph may contain too much information for you]. One account that I’d read about the pushing stage was that it was like “pooping out a squishy watermelon”, so I was expecting that sensation to come. What surprised me was the sensation of the “squishy watermelon” moving inside of me. When he was crowning, it was particularly disconcerting to feel my son’s head part way out of me and then between contractions being told to “relax” (while the squishy watermelon was moving inside of me, and at the same time, his feet were kicking my ribs). I asked for warm compresses, which I felt helped soothe the ”ring of fire” between contractions.
In between one of the breaks between pushing, one of the nurses actually asked me to sign a waiver form! (@%%$###!!)
I was coached to push with the forceful pushing technique, which I suspect that combined with the semi-sitting position, is the reason that we had decelerations in Moses’ heartbeats. They started to give me oxygen to get more oxygen to Moses. I got the feeling that I needed to push Moses out as fast as possible to ensure that he would be ok. This is when they said an episiotomy would be necessary.
Moses was delivered after two more contractions after the episiotomy. One of the most beautiful moments of the whole experience for me was that as Moses was being born, DH embraced me and cried on my shoulder with delight and relief at Alex’s birth.
Moses delivered with his hand by his face and with the cord wrapped loosely around his neck. He was grey and had a frightened look on his face. They put him on my belly for only a second or two because he was having difficulty breathing. DH asked if he could cut the cord and he did. They then took Moses over to a side examination table and many specialists rushed in. After the placenta was delivered, I started hemorrhaging, so they hooked me up to an IV and put pressure on my uterus to stop the bleeding. I lost 700 mL of blood in total (approx. 200 mL more than normal). Shortly after, they took Moses away to another room and Mel went with him. Shelley stayed with me. While all of this was going on, the staff was having casual conversations about their weekend plans. ($#%@@@!!!)
Despite the chaos, I remained pretty calm. I intuitively felt that Moses would be okay; I was reassured by the dream that my mom had about Moses’ birth. Shelley stayed with me, while Mel went back and forth between being with Moses and me. Shelley did some more energy work with me, which helped tremendously.
They put tubes into Moses lungs and stomach, and as a result, he needed to be transferred to the Foothills Hospital (FH) because Rockyview Hospital didn’t have a level three Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. So that I could be close to Moses, they also transferred me to the FH at 1:00 am. Our son, the little fighter, ripped the tubes out of his lungs and stomach on his way to FH. Thankfully, Moses’ condition greatly improved soon after he arrived at FH and by the next morning, he was breathing unassisted. By the afternoon, he was transferred to the Special Care Unit. They think that he swallowed some amniotic fluid during the delivery. They kept him for 6 extra days (during which time he was hooked up to IVs and many monitoring devices, kept under lights for his jaundice, was given antibiotics and was diagnosed with glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency, an enzyme deficiency which makes him susceptible to hemalytic crisis, which occurred during his birth). We brought him home with us on May 23, 2006.
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Birth is inspiring, amazing, and empowering. This website shares a collection of real natural birth experiences from you, the readers. Births the way nature intended. No pitocin. No epidural. Just the beauty (and intensity!) of the human body at work. Whether you've had one natural birth, five natural births, or are considering natural birth in the future, our hope is you will find courage and joy in these stories. Enjoy.
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Ina May's Guide to Childbirth