I wrote this account shortly after Sawyer was born and have been wanting to share it ever since.
When I gave birth to my first, things went quite a bit wonky. The second time around, we approached things differently. I prepared the entire pregnancy to have an unmedicated, natural delivery. Here is the account of how all that shook out.
THE FINAL WEEK – MONDAY
I want to remember every detail, but Sawyer is 19 days old, and details are already starting to fade. So I am writing my account of his entrance into this world.
The 39th week of pregnancy was so difficult. Our extended family had been hit with a stomach bug – it was spreading amongst all the cousins and aunts and we, thus far, had been untouched by it. I hit 39 weeks on a Saturday and that following Monday evening, Desmond started vomiting. I thought that there was no way I could bring a baby into the world and take care of my sick toddler and also that I DEFINITELY did not want to catch it.
We made a big pallet in the living room, Jeremy cared for Desmond, and Carlos brought us food… I sat on the couch and at 9:30, I noticed that my “Braxton-Hicks” were coming consistently and close together. I was thinking NO WAY can this baby coming tonight!! I continued to have contractions until around 6am.
I called my OB around 3am and told them I had been having contractions that were 5-1-1. They said I could come in or stay home – I opted to stay home since they were not super intense. I tried to rest and sleep, and at 6am, I finally fell asleep and everything slowed down.
We woke up the next morning thinking no work for Jeremy – we are having a baby! But my contractions were slowed to just a few an hour.
I had an OB appointment, so I managed to drive myself to my moms, and she took me to the appointment. They were very busy, and I breathed through contractions while waiting to be seen. The midwife checked me and I said I was 3cm, 50% effaced, and at a -2 station. The midwife predicted my labor would start that night. I agreed.
We got a great night’s sleep, waited for labor, and woke up a bit disappointed that Jeremy had to go to work again. He was itching to start his month of leave.
That evening I went into my room and had some alone time, at which point contractions started coming consistently again. I decided not to tell anyone unless I felt like it was the real deal because I didn’t want another false alarm! After about an hour, I came out and told Jeremy I was having contractions. They were coming really close together and lasting a long time – 2-3 minutes.
I sent Jeremy to take Desmond to my mom’s before I called the OB, and I told my sister Bethany to come because baby is coming! Bethany and Josh eagerly came from San Marcos, and Jeremy took Desmond at almost midnight to my moms.
When he got back, I was having trouble getting through them because I was contracting for a full 5+ minutes. I had never experienced that, and I really didn’t like it. It made me feel like something was wrong. I googled it, which didn’t help.
Jeremy was making coffee. It was GO TIME. Then I got a wave of tiredness and told him not to drink it. I decided to just go to sleep. I felt that if it was the real deal, I would wake up. And regardless I needed rest.
Bethany showed up about 12:30, and I felt bad telling her I was going to sleep, but I thought I would wake up.
I did not wake until the next morning. Jeremy sadly went to work. Desmond was still at my moms. Jeremy had let his mom know I was in labor the night before, so I had various texts and had to let people know it was another false alarm. I don’t know why, but I felt so defeated. I didn’t really care if he came early or not, but I was getting very antsy with the start and stop.
It was such a difficult week with my toddler’s sickness and the false alarms for labor – I was so overwhelmed and frustrated and tired.
Around midnight I ate a big bowl of soup because I had a gut feeling he was coming.
I didn’t feel ready for labor. I had done tons of reading and practice and work to prepare, but the second false alarm had really put me in a bad state.
I asked friends to pray. I stayed up talking to Jeremy until about 1am. I was afraid of feeling out of control and the weird 5 minute contractions made me feel very out of control. We talked about why I feared that so much, the root cause, and trusting God. I went to sleep feeling a lot better.
I woke up at 4:45am, feeling like I needed to pee, and having Braxton-Hicks. I went to the bathroom, and my underwear and shorts were all wet. Hmm, I thought, “either I peed myself during my sleep, or thats amniotic fluid.” I wiped and had bloody show. Then I knew this baby was finally coming out – right on time on his due date! (My water broke on my due date with both pregnancies.)
I woke up Jeremy and told him. So he and I had both gotten less than 4 hours of sleep. I wanted to go back to sleep, but the contractions came strong almost right away. I paced around the house like a cat… I was trying to get comfortable and into a groove, but I could not.
The intensity, frequency, and consistency made me feel like it was time to just get to the hospital. I had originally wanted to labor as much as possible at home, but after the two false alarms, I just wanted to finally get to my birthing place.
We dropped Desmond off, still sleeping, at my moms at 7:05am. I texted two friends quickly – “in car. To hospital.” It was all I could manage to type. I then instructed Jeremy to please take the toll road!
There was no traffic, and as we got onto Mopac, a beautiful sunrise filled the sky. Everything felt really perfect. It was around 7:30am when we arrived.
When I got into my birthing room, LDR 5, I reminded myself of a cat again. I felt settled that I had finally arrived where I would have my baby. My contractions instantly strengthened.
The mood was light-hearted. We decided to walk laps around the delivery ward. I would stop when a contraction hit, and my doula and Jeremy would take turns giving me counter-pressure on my hips.
At this point, I was really struggling to take the labor “moment-by-moment” because I was coping well, but afraid that I may not be able to handle it later. I kept reminding myself that I was handling it right now and to stay in the here and now.
I started to feel tired and Darlene, my doula, noticed. She asked if I wanted to go back to the room, and I said yes. I tried to lay down, but it was hard to get comfortable, and my acid reflux was so intense that I had to stay pretty upright. I was able to rest somewhat. I had some broth, and after this short rest, I felt a lot better mentally. ￼
I remember my doctor, who had already been in once, coming in again and asking if I wanted to be checked. I declined because things were going well, and I felt the progress I was making. I didn’t want to know my dilation anyway throughout the process because I felt it would not help me mentally.
There was a shift to a more serious mood, and I no longer wanted to talk in-between contractions. Jeremy made a joke, and I realized that I was in a different stage of labor because it bothered me a little bit.
I labored in all kinds of positions. I was mostly upright, and I could feel that gravity was really helping. Darlene kept asking, “where are you feeling it?” and I was analyzing that and feeling how it was changing. I was encouraged by this.
Jeremy sat in a chair, and I squatted and leaned back into him, so he was supporting me. I think I made a lot of progress in this position. As things got more serious, I started moaning through the contractions. I didn’t think I would do this as I had practiced a lot of breathing, but it just naturally happened.
I hit a wall emotionally. I don’t really remember what time this was, but I would guess that it was around 1pm. I was tired and didn’t know if I could keep going. My contractions were on top of each other, and I just wanted a break for a while. I wanted off of the train.
I began to voice my concerns out loud, and in my head I was thinking, “I sound like someone who is transitioning.” But since with my first I had a very slow labor, I was really doubting that I could already be nearly complete after about 9 hours of labor.
We ultimately decided that the nurse could check me. I was thinking that maybe I would go for the epidural at this point. I told her I did not want to know my dilation.
She checked and said something affirming like, “oh yeah, very good.” and she told Darlene and Jeremy that I was 7 cm at this point.
Jeremy came over to me, and said, “you’re almost there, babe!” I thought about what he said and how he said it – because he had a lot of excitement in his voice – and I concluded that he was telling me the truth. I decided in my head at this point that I must have been about 9cm.
I had a couple more contractions and, suddenly, I felt a lot of pressure and ‘pushy.’ I had never had an urge to push with my first, so I was unsure what I was feeling. The nurse, doula, and Jeremy all looked and swore they saw his head. The room got very busy, doctor was paged, and I got up on the bed to push.
My doctor was busy, so a different doctor came and was talking to me, asking me if I had pushed a baby out on my knees before, because I was on my knees and laying over the top of the bed.
I felt very overwhelmed and emotional in those moments. I started crying with joy because I realized I had actually done it – I had gone through all of that labor without an epidural and now was getting ready to meet my baby!
Doctor Sebestyen rushed in and had some not so great news for me. She asked the nurse if she checked me; she replied that she saw a head, so she did not.
The doctor had me get on my back at this point to check me. She said that there was a bulging sac, and that the head “was WAY up there.” A phrase that did not help my mental state during the pushing ordeal that was coming.
She also said that I was not yet fully dilated, that there was a cervical lip left. I was very discouraged to hear this because that had happened the first time, and my cervix had actually torn. She said I could try to push, and she would try to move it over his head. That worked, thank goodness! I was complete.
Then I began pushing, but I was trying to breathe him down, as they described in hypnobirthing. I was really struggling with the advice being given to me because breathing him down wasn’t working, and I had no urge to push. I wanted to get up and keep going through the contractions, but that wasn’t an option at this point.
The doctor talked to me about hypnobirthing and said I needed to physically push my baby out. I tried so many different positions and methods. Anything they told me to do, I tried, because I was desperate to get him out.
I kept thinking how tired I felt and that I was the only one who could get him out. An epidural would not help me now, but I felt I needed some help.
I was very confused why it was so difficult – it felt the exact same as pushing Desmond out. But that time I had an epidural. This time, I could feel what I was doing, but I still couldn’t seem to get effective pushes.
The doctor said she could sense that I wasn’t ready to push and that I could wait. I wanted to wait and rest, but I was getting close to the point where I could not fight the urge to push.
She left the room, which discouraged me even more because I knew that meant I was not close. Jeremy told me after she had written on a paper 0-Station, so I had quite a bit of the birth canal to go to push him out.
I grunted like an animal, I roared, I reached down deep and tried everything in my power to push him out. It was confusing to me because sometimes I would push and make progress because they would all verbally react. Other times, there was just silence because nothing was happening.
I was just as tired as I had felt with Desmond, which perplexed me because I was about 10 hours in, as opposed to 40 hours into labor. I wept over the bar on the bed, I wanted him out so badly and felt like I did not have it in me to get him out.
I literally felt like I was losing it and had come off the rails. I was pretending not to have a contraction and sitting back with my oxygen mask, until I couldn’t ignore it any longer. I felt bad for doing this… And I would stop pushing before the contraction ended, but I just didn’t feel I had the strength for it.
Next thing I know, the nurse started to really mess with the heart monitor and check my pulse. I could sense that the mood in the room had changed. She began to tell me that there were some issues with his heart rate.
I could not see any monitor, and, honestly, was not too worried by this. I had been in enough rooms for hospital births that I had seen this happen several times.
Then I started to feel like I really couldn’t get him out and was going to request vacuum assistance when the doctor walked in and said she was going to do just that because we needed to get him out.
Ironically at this moment, my IV, which hadn’t even been used, fell out of my arm. The nurse was frantically trying to fix that, and the room filled with staff. Someone else started an IV in my other arm, and the doctor was getting ready.
I was instructed to be still while they did my IV. I could not bear to sit still during a contraction at this point. It was far too painful. I was pushing anyways. I started to feel an urgency to get him out.
I soon felt the “ring of fire” and was really happy, even though it was uncomfortable, because it meant he was crowning! I was nearly done! It was really satisfying to be able to FEEL everything throughout the process.
I pushed with e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g I had within me. My strongest pushes ever were at this point because I could sense he needed to get out of there.
I felt the head come out, but then I didn’t feel the body release. About 4 staff members jumped on me and “body slammed” my stomach, and I felt a lot of pressure and assistance down there. Next thing I know, he is out and on my chest, crying.
That moment is indescribable. It is the moment that I wanted so badly. I prepared the entire pregnancy so that I could feel that rush of emotions and have that instant connection. I have never felt anything like it – extreme relief that the pain is over and overwhelming joy and happiness. I DID it, and it was over, and I couldn’t believe it!
I did tell the staff that they could take him off my chest because he didn’t look right to me, but they reassured me that he was OK. I then began to find out what actually happened. I saw Jeremy hugging Bethany and crying and thought that he must have been relieved that it was over. But then he told me what it was like for him.
He had been watching the decels on the heart rate monitor as his heart rate continued to drop lower and lower. When the head came out, the doctor said “shoulder dystocia,” which is why the staff had jumped on my belly – which felt very good at the time, very painful in postpartum.
Doctor Sebestyen said he had been stuck on his shoulders without oxygen for about a minute. She did a maneuver below, and the pressure from the nurses pushed him out. It did break his clavicle, though, we found out later.
When he finally did come out, I didn’t see him right away, but he was blue, and Jeremy thought the worst had happened. As soon as he took a breath, he got his color back, and had an APGAR score of 8 at 1 minute after birth!
This is when we figured out why my pushing came with such difficulty – he was a big boy with broad shoulders, weighing 8 lbs & 8 oz. The pediatrician told me later that he was above the 85th percentile for weight! I could not believe that my body made such a big baby and that I was able to birth him without having a c-section.
We cried and recovered and breathed for a bit in the delivery room. I did have some intense bleeding, so I was put on pitocin for 3 hours, which was rather uncomfortable without pain relief.
Bethany took beautiful photos documenting the labor, which made me cry as I looked at them because I had experienced it, and they documented it perfectly. The delivery of the placenta, by the way, was weird. I had a contraction, and it flopped out like a big blob about 4 minutes after I had delivered Sawyer. It felt nothing like delivering a baby and was much easier, thank goodness!
There is nothing in my life so far that is as empowering as this experience was. I am so glad I did it. I am even more glad that I prepared for it and confronted so many fears. It was the journey of a lifetime. I had felt like God wanted me to confront a lot of things within me. I knew that I may have ended up getting an epidural or a c-section, but I wasn’t hoping for that – and all of my hopes came true, and now I have a healthy beautiful boy who was not easy to birth, but 100% worth every moment of physical and emotional pain. Thank you, Jesus!