A Wonderful natural birth!

I never imagined having a wonderful birth. I always pictured labor as this horrible, painful thing that every woman had to suffer. When I first found out I was pregnant with my first child, I was ecstatic! I wanted to do everything right. I remember when it was time to choose exactly where I wanted to give birth. My husband is in the military so I was basically assigned to a specific hospital for the duration of my pregnancy unless I got a referral to a civilian doctor. I remember watching some stories on TV about water births and the thought interested me. I searched for water births in the San Diego area and came across Best Start Birth Center’s website.

This is when it started. I did some research and decided that I absolutely had to have a water birth at this birthing center! I really have no idea why I was into this. It seemed like this place viewed childbirth as a natural thing, something that wasn’t as horrible as I envisioned! I liked the idea that I could do things my own way. My doctor put in a referral for Best Start and the rest is history!

My husband had to deploy at the end of May so we both accepted the fact that he was most likely going to miss the birth of our first child. This was one of the hardest things for me to accept so I had to ensure that I had the support I needed during labor and delivery. I had hired a Doula, Kristen, and she was wonderful throughout. I also had recruited my best friend, Sarah, and my sister-in-law, Stephanie, to accompany me during labor.

My due date was July 14, 2008. I went into labor on Sunday, July 6th at around 10:50am. I remember lying in bed, half asleep, when all of a sudden – I felt a “pop,” almost as if someone put a needle to a water filled balloon. I actually could have sworn that I literally heard it from within. I went to the bathroom and immediately knew that my water had broke. With this being my first pregnancy, I didn’t know what to expect. I remember wondering if the baby was coming within the next hour or so! I was frantic, trying to call everyone to let them know that it had started. I called the midwife at the birth center and she assured me that I could sit still for awhile, until the surges came. After speaking with her, I was much more relaxed as I prepared for what was next.

I made a phone call to my mom and Stephanie, who immediately began their 5 hour drive to San Diego, a phone call to Sarah, who left Palm Springs from a bachelorette party, and the phone call to Kristen, who was on her way to my house, to be with me. After contacting them, I called the Ombudsman from my husband’s ship to let her know that I was in labor. She made some phone calls, in efforts to reach my husband during this time. I also e-mailed him, just in case I got to him sooner than she did.

I was so excited, it was hard to relax. I wanted to make sure everything was exactly how I wanted it. I even started cleaning before my guests arrived! Once Kristen arrived, she tried to get me to relax and told me to get some rest, both of which I could not do. I was so anxious, my butterflies had butterflies! After Sarah got there, the three of us just hung out, watched some TV, snacked on some food, made virgin margaritas, and waited some more.

At around 3:00pm, I started to feel my surges and they were getting really intense. Every time they came, I had to stop whatever it was I was doing to accommodate my body. Sometimes I would lean over the kitchen counter, and at other times, I would squat on the floor. I even used my exercise ball somewhere in between, which helped a lot. It was comforting and kind of fun, actually! I called the birth center to see if I should go in at that point and they said that it was up to me. Kristen kept on encouraging me, telling me she was really proud of the way I was handling the labor, which really boosted my confidence. After a couple more surges, I decided that I wanted to go to the birth center. I don’t know what they could have done for me there, but I thought the change of scenery would definitely help.
Sarah drove us both to the birth center after joking about how crazy I was for even suggesting that I drive. I called my mom and Stephanie and told them that we left and were on our way to the birth center. Stephanie dropped her kids off with my mom at my place and headed to meet us.

We both arrived at around the same time. It was almost 4:00pm. It was nice to have everyone there. I finally felt a little relaxed, knowing that everything was going as I had hoped. When we got there, Stephanie and Sarah walked to a nearby store and grabbed some snacks for the evening. I set the room up just like I wanted it. I put the candles around the tub. I had some calm, relaxing music playing from my laptop. By around 5:00pm, I started to get uncomfortable. I walked around the birth center, walked outside, sat on the exercise ball – I did everything suggested to try to manage my discomfort. My husband called me from the ship at this time and continued to call every 30 minutes for updates.

Roberta, my midwife, arrived at around 8:00pm. I was so relieved when I saw her face. She was the one I had seen throughout most of my pregnancy at my checkups and was hoping she would be with me during the labor and delivery.

After around 9:00pm, things started to move a lot faster. Sometimes I would hand the phone off to Sarah or Stephanie so they could talk to my husband. I remember trying to use what I learned in my Hypnobirthing class, visualizing myself in another place. I had pictures of my husband and me in Hawaii in a small photo album that I continued to flip through during this time.

I got into the tub around 9:30pm and as soon as I got into the water, I felt so much more relaxed. I got to hang out in there for awhile until Roberta suggested that I move onto the bed for awhile until my labor progressed. The water was somehow slowing me down. I moved onto the bed and began pushing once I felt it was time. Once my son was crowning, I asked if I could go back into the water. I was pushing for about an hour and afterwards, was finally able to meet the 7.1 lb miracle that was growing inside of me. It was 1:34am. My husband was on the phone, being present throughout the entire birth.

After I saw him, everything I went through was absolutely worth it. I was able to have the birth I dreamed about. I remember in the weeks prior to labor, I visualized having him in the early morning hours. Maybe it was because that was the time he was always kicking! Everything I thought would happen happened. The atmosphere was perfect and to this day – I think back to this moment and have very fond memories of childbirth. The candles that I had around the tub are in my guest bathroom in my house and when I go in for a whiff every now and then – it brings tears of joy to my eyes.

I’m thankful that I didn’t have any medications because afterwards, I was able to immediately bond with my son. We were both completely alert and aware of each other’s presence, which was so magical.

When I tell people that I chose to have a water birth without the standard medications, they look at me in one or two ways! I’m either “crazy” or “brave.” But when I hear other people telling their “horrible” stories of childbirth, it makes me so sad because I don’t believe it should have to be this way. Then, I take a look at my experience and feel so blessed. It took awhile for me to change my perspective as well, but once I changed it – I was so thankful. Sometimes, you just have to know your options. Without knowing, you’ll buy into what you think you “have” to do.

Most people are terrified from their previous experiences, fearing the birth of their next child. I totally look forward to having my next child as long as I can do it my way! It was an amazing experience that I will continue to savor for the rest of my life.

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