It’s been almost six weeks since our second baby boy was born and I’ve been thinking with my hands over this keyboard for weeks, trying to write out his birth story. It was such an amazing and emotional experience and it feels as though there are no words to truly describe it. Every time I read over this I add in another detail that I had forgotten the time before. But at last, here it is.
August Christopher Walters came into the world on February 23rd, 2017 at 2:32 am. He was born at exactly 35 weeks, weighing 4 pounds 8 oz and he was 16 inches long.
My entire pregnancy I had this strong, intuitive feeling that August would come early, after all Chet was born right at 37 weeks. However, I never anticipated he would be this early. I imagined he would be a little early, but expected him to still be full term. But things never go as planned do they 🙂 I had Braxton hicks throughout my whole pregnancy and for the most part, they were normal.
However, two days before I delivered August, I was having dizziness and headaches, along with blurry vision which is a very abnormal for me- and can be a sign of preeclampsia. After a few hours of them not going away, we decided to go to the hospital to get things checked. They ran several tests on me and everything came back completely normal. My blood pressure was fine and they were going to send me home but all of a sudden my contractions starting getting intense and more frequent. The nurses kept monitoring me and I went into active labor within a few hours. My midwife checked me to see if these contractions were dilating me and I was at a 5! As scary as it was, we were pretty sure that our baby was coming. I was given medicine to try and stop the labor but it wasn’t very effective. My contractions just continued to get stronger. I was also given two steroid shots to help develop the baby’s lungs. The contractions were getting intense so I decided to get into the labor tub. I had my husband give me a massage with gentle baby essential oil and within 10-15 minutes my contractions started to slow down! We were so thankful that the bath relaxed me enough to slow things down. I was kept overnight for monitoring but I didn’t have anymore intense contractions that night.
The next morning my midwife checked me again and she said I was still dilated but the baby had actually moved up the birth canal, which was a great sign. I was discharged that afternoon and put on strict bed rest.
The next two days Chet and I relaxed as much as possible and just watched movies in bed. (Being on bed rest with a toddler isn’t an ideal situation). I didn’t want to chance going into labor again and wanted to keep this baby in as long as possible so I tried to move around as little as possible. Since the gentle baby EO was helpful in the hospital, I kept applying it every 2 hours. It was very calming on my uterus and helped keep my contractions mild. Over those two days my contractions came and went but they weren’t anything like I was having before.
On Thursday I had a midwife appointment and everything looked good. My contractions were still mild and the baby was healthy and calm. We were hoping to keep him in another 2 weeks at least.
However when we came home that evening, I suddenly started having very intense contractions again. It started with back labor and at first I wasn’t sure if it was contractions or just my back being sore from being in bed for two days straight. Soon enough, I knew it was indeed back labor and I had front contractions along with it. I took a warm bath, hoping to stop labor again- but the contractions just continued to get closer together and more intense. So we packed the last of our bags, dropped Chet off at s friend’s house, and made sure we had everything we needed.
I still hadn’t had a chance to print my birth plan so I hand wrote it while working through contractions. I think my husband thought I was crazy at that point haha. When my contractions were about 2-3 minutes apart I called my midwife and we left for the hospital.
When we got there, my contractions slowed down to 8-10 minutes apart and I was still at a 5. They kept us in a triage room for about an hour and we began to wonder if this baby was coming or just playing tricks with us. After about an hour I was now dilated to a 6 and they admitted me. From then on, my contractions were getting more intense and it was very clear that this baby was definitely coming! I had my midwife break my water because it just wasn’t happening on its own and we didn’t want baby to be in distress… and I was trying to avoid pitocin.
My contractions picked back up and were getting more intense but I was managing them pretty well. I was actually surprised at how manageable the pain was! I felt very in control and ready for this natural birth. My husband also applied counter pressure, which was a total life saver! I highly recommend this. We had ‘Moving Art: Oceans’ playing on Netflix (so relaxing) and we had orange, gentle baby, and valor going in the diffuser. I felt so relaxed, at peace, and empowered. I knew I was ready for this and felt that God was equipping me for this birth.
Since my contractions had been kind of unpredictable, my midwife said if i didn’t start progressing and baby became stressed we may need to consider pitocin but we would wait and see. I really was trying to avoid this at all costs so this made me feel nervous and anxious. I decided it was a good time to start using clary sage essential oil. I had heard this was amazing for encouraging labor and contractions but it was my first time actually using it for this so I was eager to see how effective it would be. At this point, it was 1 am and my husband asked me when he thought the baby would be born. I thought it would still be a few hours, so maybe at 3 am. His guess was 1:30 am.
Shortly after that, like within minutes, I entered transition. Let me tell you, if you need to have a baby, clary sage works fast! Or at least it did for me. It really kicked things into gear and it all happened so quickly. Up until now, Brogan was using counter pressure to relieve my pain and it was working quite well. Throughout this whole time I was also repeating my birth affirmations in my head. But once transition hit I couldn’t even think straight. I was just trying to relax and stay calm but even that was hard.
Natural childbirth is unlike anything else. It’s a type of pain that I wouldn’t describe as agonizing, but it requires concentration to work through. I honestly don’t remember it very well because I was just very focused on the moment and nothing else. I don’t remember anything from the end of my birth except for concentrating on my baby and I. I don’t even remember what my husband was doing (except that he was giving me sips of water as I requested them), I don’t remember what my midwife was doing, or what the nurses were doing. It was as if my baby and I were all alone during those 20 minutes of transition.
Once transition began I also started having severe cramps and shakiness in my legs and severe front and back contractions. Brogan was holding my hand and giving me water and my midwife was trying to help me with the pain in my legs. That was probably the most painful part and totally unexpected, but we worked through it. After about 20-25 minutes of this, I started to feel pressure. It came on suddenly and I remember telling my midwife right away. My midwife then checked me and said I was complete and that I could begin pushing when I was ready. I was nervous about the ‘ring of fire’ and what I had heard about it but I didn’t really experience that. I honestly just felt a lot of pressure and wanted to get the baby out at this point. Pushing didn’t burn at all, but it actually just caused pressure and cramping in my legs. The cramping in my legs was the worst because I just didn’t expect that. Pushing is exhausting, but after having an epidural with Chet, it felt so nice to be able to feel what I was doing this time around. I felt much more in control of my body and I liked that I knew exactly how much to push and I could take a break when I felt I needed one. At one point I didn’t think I could keep going because the cramping was so intense. I had only been pushing about 10 minutes and then I gave one very big and long push and our baby was born at 1:32 am.
My midwife immediately placed August on my chest and I could not believe how tiny he was. He was only 4 pounds 8 oz and 16″ long. We requested delayed cord clamping (research the benefits of this!) and just stared at him as we waited for the cord to finish pulsing. I remember just staring at him in awe as I felt his soft baby skin. I knew that being a premie, he would likely be taken away shortly and I wanted to savor that first moment with him. After a few minutes, his breathing wasn’t sounding good and they took him across the room. A team of doctors and nurses starting evaluating him and they had to take him to the nicu right away. I remember feeling as if my heart had just dropped to my feet. It was such an unsettling feeling knowing that I just had this incredible birth and my baby couldn’t even stay with me. At the same time, I was so happy that I received the birth I wanted and that it went as well as it could have for a preterm birth.
My nurse then helped me get moved to my postpartum recovery room and I remember just feeling amazed at how great I felt. I was tired but I wasn’t in excruciating pain. I was so happy that I had just accomplished a natural birth- something that I really didn’t think I was capable of.
It’s kind of funny because before I ever had babies, I thought it would be insane and horrible to have a natural birth. I honestly didn’t understand WHY anyone would refuse pain meds. But now I do. It was an absolutely amazing experience. From feeling comfortable laboring in my own comfy clothes, to working through and feeling every contraction and telling my body it was made for this… To not needing fluids from an IV… it truly was amazing.
The world tells women that natural birth is scary and that we should fear it. That we need interventions and medications and it’s crazy to want anything different. That birth is something to fear and dread and that women are not capable of handling it. Now if you want these interventions, then by all means that’s why they’re there! But I think the most important part of creating your ideal birth experience is informed choice and consent of the mother. Pain medications and interventions are not the only choice and birth shouldn’t have to be a scary thing. In fact, nothing about birth told by the world is true. It’s wonderful, it’s natural, it’s empowering. And it is truly something that I believe God intended for women to experience. Even with this baby coming before I was ready, I felt prepared and I trusted my body. It was hard, it was painful, but it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Never have I felt so empowered by something. When the world tells you that you can’t do something, prove the world wrong. I no longer fear birth. I no longer fear a lot of things.
“Birth is not just about making babies. It’s about making mothers, mothers who trust themselves and their inner strength and know that they are capable of anything.”