Natalie is 2 months old now and I thought I'd better document an abbreviated version of my birth story before it becomes a distant memory. I won't include any gross details so those of you with weak stomachs or birthing fears can read on.
On September 6th I had a long day at work and was feeling quite stressed. As I left work my friend suggested that all the stress would probably make me go into labor. Sure enough that's what happened. Or, maybe our little baby was ready to come that day regardless of the days events. I went to bed around 10:15 and woke up at 11:00 thinking "wow I'm really sweaty". I quickly realized that I was not sweating at all but that my water had broken. I got up and thought about not waking Doug but I didn't realize he had just gone to bed moments before this happened. Doug sprung into action and started to put our hospital bag out. We planned to not go to the hospital until I was well into labor. So, what did I do you might ask? Well, I picked up the house, did some laundry and made some energy balls to take to the hospital. At 1am Doug went to the couch to sleep some and I laid on a garbage bag on the bed and tried to sleep. I was having contractions all night but nothing regular or intense enough to make me want to go to the hospital. I must have only slept for 5 minutes here and there. The sun came up and I still was not ready to go the hospital so we watched some bike racing on TV and Doug glued up some tubular wheels in the garage. At about 10 am I felt like we should make our way to the hospital since my contractions were coming every 5 or so minutes.
We got to the hospital and I was overcome with a feeling of NOT wanting to be there. I heard so many stories of women being forced to proceed with birth in a way that was not in line with their wishes even when there were no complications or risks. I really liked the doctor I saw throughout my pregnancy but she was not on call that weekend. The doctor who was there was quick to suggest they start me on pitocin because my contractions were only 7 minutes apart and she "needed to see a baby by 11pm" (24 hours after my water broke). I can't tell you all the expletives that were flying around my head as this doctor so quickly suggested this to me minutes after I arrived. Did she not look at the nice birth plan I wrote up that was sitting right next to her?!?! Doug supported me in refusing this and it took us refusing pretty strongly several times for the staff to allow my labor to proceed. I believed and trusted my body could labor naturally. I had a very healthy, relatively easy pregnancy and was in good, if not great physical shape. My intuitions and trust in my body were right and more hard core labor started around 1pm. I started to lose track of time and could no longer eat any food. Good thing I took in some energy balls and Honey Stinger chews before this happened because there was no turning back. The next 7+hours involved me walking around the room, doing lunges, leaning over the bed, bouncing on an exercise ball and making primitive noises that I never knew I was capable of doing. I also spent some time in the tub when my contractions were at their worst. I found it interesting that the most painful and horrible time was when I tried to lay down or sit down, hence my walking and standing for nearly all of my labor. Doug later told me it was horrible for him to watch me as it looked like someone was torturing me all afternoon and there wasn't anything he could do. His reassuring words did more than he knows and his insisting that I drink helped me remain hydrated.
I have no idea what time it was when I was begging to be "done with this". I was going to go back in the tub but the nurse then told me "nope this baby is coming". I'm not sure if our little one was ready to meet us or I was overly motivated to be done but after only 5 pushes we welcomed a crying baby with a head of dark hair into the world. The nurses said "it's a girl" and I believe my response was "oh shit, I can't believe I did that" (referring to laboring naturally). As my little girl was brought to my chest I apologized for calling her a boy the whole time she was in utero and was instantly in love! We had a boy name and girl named picked out. Natalie was one name that I did not negatively associate with any former clients and Jean was my grandmothers middle name. Natalie Jean Schuler 9/7/13, 7lbs 2oz, 20 inches long, 8:48pm, 22 hours after my water broke and contractions started...the longest race of my life!
I was truly transformed by my birth experience. It gave me confidence that I didn't have before and I loved the process (albeit very painful). Watching my husband for the first few moments as a father was a highlight as well. He always refused to hold babies and I was worried he was scared of them and wouldn't hold his own child. Turns out he's a natural and gives Natalie some of the best snuggles of anyone.
What my birth taught me (or powerfully reinforced):
1. Women are amazingly strong in so many ways, sorry men, I know we can handle much more pain than you. Don't even try to argue this one!
3. Advocate for what you want in life.
Welcome to the world Natalie! You are loved and we think you are going to be a pretty amazing girl!