May 9th was to be my husband’s unit’s family beach bash celebrating Mother’s Day [weekend] and to mark the halfway point of the deployment. It also was the day my mother-in-law would be arriving to help out here with our 16 month old daughter surrounding the time of when I would be giving birth to our second. However, when I woke that morning I discovered my water had broke. After getting a pad, of course, the first thing I did was email my husband, Stephen, to call me, who at the time was fortunate to have phone access. Then I talked to the midwife on-call, Sarah, and made plans for me to come in that evening for her to check me, granted I didn’t need to go earlier. My labor was slow starting, and I originally figured I’d still go to the beach party. After talking to Stephen, we decided it best that I just hang out at home and try to rest. At one point I actually did take a nap while having mild contractions, but most of the day was spent making arrangements for my daughter Lily to be taken care of and preparing last minute things for the labor and delivery and postpartum. I had a friend, Sara, whose husband is also a Marine, come over, and later in the afternoon Stephen’s mom arrived –she’d driven from Oklahoma having left a couple days earlier. Also, I had a doula, Tera, through Operation Special Delivery. Sara drove me to the birth center that evening, and we arrived at 7:30pm. By that time I was in decently hard labor, and when checked I was dilated to a five and told that the baby was really low and that the head could even already be seen. Sara stayed with me, even though starting the day out she hadn’t even planned on being with me, much less during the birth. Tera arrived I think about 8:30pm, much to Sara’s relief, who I had compressing my lower back. At some point I was checked and told I was at seven cenimeters, and then later when checked again I was still at seven. I was not happy; those last three centimeters felt impossible. If I’d been in a hospital there’s no way I would have passed on an epidural. Laura was another staff member who attended the birth, and though I’d never even seen a picture of her before I really felt a connection with her and appreciated her just holding my hand and saying all the encouraging things she did. All the women who were with me were truly wonderful in their encouragement and helping me handle both mentally and physically, though I can’t say I handled it the greatest. I learned something about myself: I’m the loud type of laboring woman. It was like what I needed to do, and I thankfully was made to feel comfortable. Compared to the birth of my first at a naval hospital, I can’t even begin to say how much better I was made to feel through the whole thing.
My husband called frequently, and Sara would talk to him and give him updates, (and try to shelter him from hearing me. haha) When it was finally go-time, I was sooo ready to get it over with. Pushing was only about ten minutes, and then arrived Hannah Glory Arnold at 9:39pm on May 9th, 2009. (So from the time I arrived it only took two hours!) Stephen called right as she was coming out and got to hear her first cries and all. I was overwhelmed and in disbelief that my labor was basically over –it felt AMAZING to be finished! Of course, I was so happy to meet my new daughter, but I was practically in shock from what I’d just done. The pushing and crowning were a cake-walk; it was going from seven to ten that drove me crazy. I birthed on a stool and had no tears, which I was also ecstatic to hear. With my first, who’d I gotten an epidural with, when I was stuck at seven, I had a couple tears and limped for a month after the birth. This time I was on my feet in what seemed like no time.
The recovery for me is probably the biggest thing that has me sold on this whole natural childbirth stuff. I plan/hope to have more kids, and I can’t see myself ever going back to a hospital. That said, I KNOW that once I’m at that last couple centimeters part, I’m going to be yelling, “Why didn’t I go to a hospital! I want an epidural!” (However, I more so believe that for me, that’s just something I need to be allowed to say without it meriting anything.) Nevertheless, it was a good experience. The only thing I’d change is to have had Daddy there. I ended up leaving at 2:30am, only six hours after arriving, as I’d bounced back so well. Of course, I could have stayed the night, but I wanted to be home for my other daughter when she woke. Lily took an interest in Hannah right away, although it took a couple days for her to adjust, some of which I think was more an adjustment to having her grandma around spoiling her.
As I write this, I’m preparing to send Kathy off in a couple days and go at it alone until August when Stephen is set to return. I feel ready, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically, but I know if it wasn’t for Best Start I would not be in this state. I am so thankful for having a natural birth; and I’m utterly speechless by the wonderful recovery I’ve had as a result. I will definitely plan to someday return to Best Start for baby number three.