When I found out I was pregnant with my second son, I knew that I wanted things to be very different than my first birth experience (you can read that story, where nothing went as planned, here). I knew without a doubt that I was not going to give birth at our local hospital again. That was out of the question in my mind, but I wasn’t sure where I did want to give birth.
A natural home birth with a midwife sounded ideal, but our insurance wouldn’t pay for that. A free standing birth center was my next option, and we checked one out and met with the midwife. However, they did not take our insurance, either. So I ended up going with a midwife group at a hospital based birth center about a 50 minute drive from our home.
I was apprehensive about going with another hospital after my previous birth experience. But, after speaking to the midwives about my concern and taking a hospital tour, I felt very comfortable.
The hospital birth center was completely different than our local hospital. In fact, my ideal natural birth plan was all standard practice of the midwife group. I could have a water birth if I wanted, without an IV, with only intermittent monitoring. Skin-to-skin, nursing immediately, and delayed cord clamping were all part of their standard procedure.
If my water broke and my labor did not start for some time (my biggest concern, since that is what started the negative cycle of my first birth), they would only want me to come in for monitoring, but would not check me, admit me, or induce me (unless the baby was in trouble) for up to 3 days. I knew we had made the right choice.
A week before my due date, I was having contractions all day. They were not painful yet, but they were steady and getting closer and closer. Since I never went into active labor on my own in my previous labor, I really wasn’t sure what labor without Pitocin felt like. But nothing stopped these contractions. I tried laying down, I tried walking, but everything I tried only made them closer together. So, we dropped our toddler off with my friend and headed to the hospital.
And when we got to the hospital, about 1 hour later, my labor came to a screeching stop. Nothing. I was dilated to 2.5 cm, but as they monitored me, nothing was happening. I was embarrassed and discouraged. They sent me home with the encouraging words that my labor would probably start up within hours and I’d be having my baby really soon.
Except I didn’t.
I continued to have early labor contractions on and off for the next two weeks, but that was it. Nothing stuck. Nothing progressed into painful contractions. I was getting really frustrated.
I had a midwife appointment and non-stress test planned for the day I turned 41 weeks. I really didn’t want to go to that appointment. I really wanted to have our little guy instead. So on the night before that appointment, I started nipple stimulation using only my hands just to see if it would get the ball rolling.
It worked! My body was obviously ready.
My contractions started up and continued to get stronger. By 11 pm, I knew this was the real thing and I was getting excited. My contractions went from being uncomfortable to painful. About 3 am, I told my hubby that we should go to the hospital and I called the midwife on call.
However, she could see that I already had come in once in a false alarm and she was not convinced it was time to come in just yet. She encouraged me to wait it out at home a little longer. I was frustrated, and worried about the long drive, but tried to get some more rest.
The next morning, about 8:30, I called the midwife again. This time she was convinced it was time (I couldn’t talk through the contractions anymore) and said they would have a tub room waiting for me. So, off to the hospital we went – again!
We were admitted about 10 am, and I was at 4 cm at that point. Once again my contractions stopped when I got to the hospital, but they were not concerned. I was allowed to labor in my own clothes (so nice!) so we went for a walk around the hospital to get things moving again.
We went outside and walked all the way around the hospital. Then, we walked in the rose garden, which was pretty depressing in February. Soon, the contractions were getting really strong, but I wasn’t ready to go inside yet. I was afraid they would stop again as soon as I did.
However, the nurses were glad we came back – apparently they were a little worried I was gone so long. They checked me again and I was up to 6 cm dilated and progressing quickly. They started to fill the birthing tub since I wanted to spend the most painful part of labor, transition, in the tub.
The warm water in the birthing tub was amazing. It took the edge off the pain. Contractions that were beginning to become unbearable outside the tub were manageable again. I relaxed and let my body do what it needed to do. Soon I progressed into transition.
I was experiencing back labor, which I did with my first son, as well. Labor, in general, is really painful, but back labor is even worse. My husband had to apply counter pressure to my back with each of the contractions. Poor guy. His arms were getting really tired, but he never complained. The midwife, a sweet lady whom we had never met before, kept saying what a great job we were doing and that we were making her job easy.
I was hoping to progress through transition quickly, but I stalled at 8 cm for a long time. I screamed, cried, and begged our little boy to come out, but he was not in the best position and so he was taking his time moving down.
Finally, I’m not sure how much later, but I think it was about 6 hours, I had reached close enough to 10 cm that the midwife said I could try pushing if I liked. Yes! I was so ready to have him out! The problem was, I really didn’t have the urge to push yet.
But I didn’t care. I never felt the urge to push with my first because I had an epidural by that point. I just wanted to meet our son and be done with this all, so I pushed anyway.
For over an hour I pushed and felt him move down, start to crown, and then slip back as soon as I stopped pushing. Over and over and over… Eventually, they became concerned because they were having a hard time finding his heartbeat with the little doppler in the water. So they literally dragged me out of the water – I was too exhausted to get out on my own – and up onto the bed.
Suddenly, the room filled up with people. I don’t even know who was there, but apparently people who could rush our baby to the NICU if necessary.
My midwife got me on my side with my husband holding one leg. She got right in my face and told me I needed to get my son out NOW, so just keep pushing.
So I pushed and when I felt like I was going to faint, I pushed more. And he came out in a rush of water and blood (my water had broken just minutes before, but never escaped because his head was stopping it).
They placed my little boy, my Micaiah (or Micah, for short), on my chest. He was perfect, round and chubby with a huge round head. All the extra staff left the room and it was just us.
The midwife helped me get my sports bra off so I could nurse him. He was a natural nurser and latched on immediately. All was quiet. They let us nurse and cuddle for over an hour. I asked if they wanted to weigh him or wash him, but they said no. As long as he was nursing, they were going to let him.
So, we bonded. I thanked him for finally coming out. And the nurses worked to clean up the room around us. We ended up staying in the delivery room for the night because all the recovery rooms were full and they knew we wanted to leave as soon as possible in the morning. So, we never even left the room until we checked out the following morning.
The next day we left the hospital before noon and brought our second son home to meet the family. I was amazed at how big my oldest son, Clayton, only 21 months old, suddenly looked. It was like he grew a foot over night and was no longer my baby. He immediately fell in love with his baby brother.
All in all, Micah’s birth was 22 hours long, less than half my 48 hours I experienced with Clayton. I was very happy with his birth and the hospital birth center. The midwife and staff were amazing and I did not have to fight to get the birth I wanted. I had the all natural labor and delivery I wanted and felt supported and respected. My recovery was very quick and nursing was much easier the second time.
If only first births could be second births, life would be so much easier.
If you just LOVE birth stories, you can binge to your heart’s delight at my friend Suzanne’s blog The Glorious Mundane’s Birth Story page. She publishes weekly birth stories and they are always so good!