Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Oliver's Birth Story

 To think, in one small week our whole world changed for the better.

Bringing Oliver to this earth was the best day of my life. This is going to be a long post, so in sum the 8 hour delivery was beautiful, and unexpectedly easy and pain free. I know, I didn't think labor could be described like that either! I was able to birth him unmedicated and didn't feel any pain until my final push. Tayler was the sweetest, most encouraging supporter and I couldn't have done it without him. My doctor and nurse were so supportive of my choices to birth without pitocin, an epidural or an episiotomy and I felt safe and respected the whole time. It was my dream birth and I'm so grateful I got to start motherhood the way I wanted.

The number one question I get when people ask about natural (unmedicated) labor is why I would choose that route. There's a lot of things that go behind the decision but basically 1) I hate needles, so I wanted to avoid an epidural and the IV that goes with it, 2) I didn't want Ollie to be out of it for his first moments on earth 3) Last semester I took a Childhood Across Cultures class and was amazed at how women give birth outside of America. It's treated less like an emergency and more like the natural process it is. So I wanted that!

Now for the long version....

Tuesday, October 2nd started off bright and early with Oliver letting us know it was his day. It was 7am, and after a decent sleep I sat up - with great effort because of my big, 37 week 6 day belly, and immediately heard a little pop accompanied by some involuntary gushing. Instantly I knew my water had broke, and I knew that meant labor was starting!

I woke a sleepy Tayler up to tell him the news. He looked at me, through half open eyes, with disbelief. "Are you sure?" he asked skeptically. "I'm pretty sure!" I answered, a little bit annoyed that he doubted me. Turns out he didn't know that your water can break before you have contractions so I had to use some Google on him to convince him.

I politely demanded that he make me a large healthy breakfast knowing that if the hospital admitted me I would be on a clear liquids only diet. He went downstairs to make me an omelet while I rushed around doing all the things I thought I had 2 more weeks to do: washing all the baby clothes, organizing a diaper changing station and packing my hospital bag.

My birth plan was to labor at home for as long as possible, head to the hospital when I was dilated to a 7 or 8, and then birth the baby naturally. So, thinking that we still had hours until we needed to go to the hospital, Tayler headed into work.

About 5 minutes after he left he called me and said that after talking with his dad, who's a doctor, I should call my OBGYN and ask them what to do. I'm so grateful he did because apparently the risk of infection and complication increases after your water breaks. My doctor instructed us to go straight to labor and delivery. Tayler turned his car around and came back to pick me up. We had assumed that we would stay at home until my contractions started, so we begrudgingly packed up the car, certain that we would be sent home.

I felt foolish walking into labor and delivery, obviously not in any pain. The receptionists looked at me doubtfully and pointed us in the direction we needed to go. We were checked in, taken to a labor suite and I was given a gown. One simple test later and it was confirmed, my body was in labor. They strapped my belly up with monitors, one for the baby's heart rate and one to measure contractions.

We immediately loved our nurse Melissa, who was fun and cheerful as she measured mine and baby's vitals. We were chit chatting and then she surprised us by looking at me with confusion and asking, "Did you not feel that? You're having a big contraction."

Me and Tayler looked at each other, laughed, and gave each other a high five. Apparently I was having contractions! Tayler and I had practiced pain coping methods and counter pressure points to deal with contractions, and it turns out I couldn't feel them! Melissa gave us the run down of what to expect and that anticipated that I would deliver that night between 10-12pm. Since I wasn't feeling any pain, we decided that Tayler would go home and clean and prepare our house for baby for the next couple of hours.

Those hours went by quickly, and I enjoyed the solitude and slow pace of the small hospital. I sat in my quiet room looking out the window at Tower Mountain's fall colors and thinking about how close baby was. While Tayler was gone they checked me again, and this time I was dilated to a 5. At this point I could identify the contractions, but it still felt like a mild cramp.

The nurses were in disbelief that in two hours I had progressed so much. This was amazing to me too because I've never considered myself to have a high pain tolerance, but I tried to keep my head level and prepared for things to get harder. The mantras I'd recite to myself were: "All you have to do is relax and breathe" and "Every contraction brings your baby closer."

Tayler returned around 2pm and for the next two hours we joked, talked and laughed. I think we were both a little giddy at the prospect of meeting our baby so soon, and we were in complete disbelief that labor was going so smoothly for me. Melissa was an awesome nurse for us, checking in occasionally but for the most part letting us do our thing. She did offer me some pain medication around 3pm when I started having to breathe deeply through contractions, but I didn't feel like medication was necessary.

It's routine for nurses to check your cervix often to keep track of how dilated you are, but I declined several checks because I didn't feel like I'd progressed at all and didn't want to be discouraged if that was the case. But after some stronger contractions that Tayler had to massage my feet to help me get through, I let them check me. I still wouldn't describe the contractions as painful, but they were intense.

Melissa announced that I was at a 9. A 9! One little centimeter away from being ready to push. I was hoping I was maybe a 7! Melissa scurried out of the room to call the doctor and we heard her tell all the nurses at the desk I was a 9, it was fun to hear them sound so surprised and excited.

Dr. Nance showed up around 4pm and he was so sweet and complimentary about how I was managing labor.

I've heard it said that some women like the pushing phase of labor more than the contraction phase of labor. I am not one of those women. Although pushing didn't hurt until the final push, the pressure of baby Oliver so low wasn't painful, but it was incredibly weird and uncomfortable. For an hour Dr. Nance, Melissa and Tayler coached me through pushing. In between contractions we talked about important topics like the cafeteria's peanut butter bars.

Pretty soon I started getting discouraged that it was taking so long, when my dilation had gone so quickly and smoothly. I was tired from not being able to eat all day, and I was starting to think that Tayler and the doctor were lying to me when they said the baby was so close. But then out of the blue, at the height of my first painful push I felt a huge whoosh of baby and the doctor was holding up the cutest, purple, wide eyed alien I'd ever seen. They put him on my chest and I couldn't stop the tears. He was here, he was safe, and he is ours. 7 pounds 7 ounces of pure heaven.

We have so much love for you baby Oliver and we feel so blessed to be your parents.

And a note to all my pregnant friends - believe me, if i can give birth naturally so can you. I cry when Tayler pops the blackheads in my ears.

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