Sweet little Delta was born on the 4th of July, exactly a week before her estimated due date. Our little firecracker.
I’ve never wanted any of my children to have holiday birthdays- the festivities and family get togethers always seem to overshadow such a special day for kids. But I think Delta lucked out with hers. An Independence day birthday certainly has it’s perks!
Anyways. Back to our story. (Settle in and get cozy, because it’s a long one!)
Let’s go back to July 2nd. I had started feeling pretty miserable in the days prior, but didn’t think I was anywhere near going into labor. I had work the next morning at 5am and I was dreading going in for my shift. I just wanted to sleep and eat and be left alone. Typical pregnant lady.
Around 10:30 that evening Delta was being her normal active self, pushing on mommy’s ribs, bladder, cervix, anything she could find. Suddenly, she pushed her head out as hard as she could right above my pubic bone and as I was pointing out the oddly shaped protrusion to Konnor, I felt a small gush. “This couldn’t be my water breaking… right?” It was much too early for that and I wasn’t even in labor yet! Jokingly I said, “Either I peed myself or my water just broke.” Then it happened again. This time there was no denying it anymore- my water had broken! Either of it’s own accord or the force of Delta’s impressive headbutt. Is that even possible?
We called my midwife, Christine, and explained that though we were positive my water had broken, we were equally as positive that labor hadn’t started. She encouraged us to rest and wait until my contractions developed and strengthened before coming to the hospital. Konnor was excited, so obviously he immediately started texting friends and family and posting about it on Instagram. Such a millennial.
Amidst the excitement and rushing around to finish packing my hospital bag, we managed to get some rest. The next morning, after nearly a full night’s sleep, my contractions really got going and I labored at home for three hours before heading to the hospital at 11:30am.
The whole way there I wondered if people in the cars around us noticed me and realized that I was in labor. I’ve certainly never noticed any laboring women while driving around in my car, but I’m sure many have been passengers on the road next to me. These are the introspective little thoughts I had as I would go inward during each contraction.
I was already 5cm dilated by the time we arrived at the hospital. That meant I was close and would probably deliver that night, right? In total, I labored for 26 hours, stretching on through the night and well into the next morning. I fought hard to not feel trapped in my own body. At one point thoughts of escaping seemed so logical, but I had to verbally remind myself, “There’s nowhere to run!” Those strong contractions kept coming, but I felt no closer to meeting my baby girl. After that initial check my midwife never told me again how dilated I was, she would just tell me that I was close and had, “just a little more to go!” I later found out that I stayed dilated at 7cm for more than 10 hours.
The hardest part of laboring for so long was the sheer exhaustion that eventually kicked in. I would fall asleep almost immediately after most contractions, even if I was standing up. I’m told I snored and even mumbled gibberish in those incoherent states. The exhaustion started to wear my mind down, and there were moments where I desperately wanted to escape and give up, but I knew I had to push through. I was determined!
Every few hours I rotated between the tub, the birthing ball, and the bed. Standing or sitting up and swaying through each contraction and then quickly collapsing onto the bed or the side of the tub to sleep became my pattern.
Eventually exhaustion overcame Konnor too, to the point that he was falling asleep when I slept (per my instruction), so I made him go sleep and my mom took over helping me. I hadn’t planned on my mom being one of my support partners, but she was amazing. I felt this intimate connection and comfort with her as she massaged my temples, just as she had done when I was a baby. I’m so glad I listened to my gut and asked her to stay when she had just come in for a short visit.
Around 5:30am on the 4th, my midwife gently suggested that we try an IV drip of fluids and a very small dose of pitocin. My contractions were continuing to stall and I was extremely dehydrated after throwing up during the night. Even though pitocin was a no-no on my birth plan, I trusted my midwife and I was desperate to be in the pushing stage, so I agreed. By 8am my contractions were crazy intense and with each one I had a strong urge to push. I had planned to “breathe baby out”, but at this point I just wanted to be done. So I gave into the urges and pushed for my final 2 hours.
My legs were so worn out that they could no longer support me, and the tub just wasn’t cutting it anymore, so I ended up on the toilet for the final hour. This was definitely not how I had imagined delivering my baby! (Insert cry laughing emoji here. Somehow I managed to keep my sense of humor the entire time I was in labor.) There were moments where I felt it would be physically impossible to push my baby out. But I would remind myself that billions of other women had succeeded at what I was about to do, and if they could do it, then so could I! I was ready to meet my baby girl. I had earned at least that much.
My midwife checked me again and said that the top of baby’s head was just starting to emerge. I reached down and felt her soft hair, matted to her scalp with vernix. We were SO close! I asked my midwife how close we were and did she think my baby would be here within the hour? She was hesitant to give me a timeframe and potentially disappoint me, but I just needed to hear her say that I was close. I needed to feel like I was close. Like I could do it.
Within ten minutes of that brief conversation, Delta started crowning. (How’s that for the power of speaking something over yourself and it coming to be?) With Konnor next to me holding me up, and Christine kneeling in front of me, I stood up and pushed as hard as I possibly could. And just like that she was out! She was finally here!
Immediately all the pain and exhaustion and frustration slipped away. It was like the last 26 hours hadn’t happened. All I could see, all I could comprehend was this beautiful, perfect baby girl that was somehow in my arms. Konnor was next to me, holding me up and weeping the most precious tears. My amazing little family felt so complete.
I’ve had people, other women especially, tell me I was a little crazy for having a natural, pain med free birth. That they never could have done what I did. But it was so worth it, and in the end I’ve learned just how strong my body and mind are. I learned that I am capable of so much more than what I previously thought. Natural birth is completely ordinary and normal. It’s nothing to be fearful of, and it is completely attainable!
So to all you future mamas- have the birth that you want to have and don’t listen to other people’s fears or prejudices. Surround yourself with positive people who will support your plan, and believe in your own body! You got this!
*All photos by Westrum Photographs