Lila’s Birth Story
Thanks you SO much for all of your sweet comments—they mean the world to me. We’re thrilled with the newest member of our family:
…and can’t wait to share all of our new adventures on the blog.
Of course, the real adventure started on Friday night. Several of you have sent e-mails asking about Lila’s birth, and I’m happy to share the details of what went down. That being said, this post is definitely going to fall into the TMI territory, so if words like blood, sweat, tears, poop, and “IT BURNS!!!!” turn you off, consider yourself warned in advance and stop reading now.
Labor officially started on Friday afternoon around 5:00, not that I actually thought I was in labor. At that point, I’d had at least four bouts of really, really strong contractions that had lasted between 3 and 5 hours and then disappeared into thin air, so I assumed this was going to be more of the same. We walked the dogs and I half-heartedly tracked the contractions with my i-phone app, but again, honestly, in the back of my head I just thought, “Oh, this isn’t it.”
But. As they continued and didn’t let up, a tiny inkling of hope (and fear, ha) began to stir—maybe this really was labor? At 9 pm, they were still coming about every 2-3 minutes and lasting for about 30 seconds to 1 minute. At that point, I decided to take a warm bath, more as a distraction than anything else. The bath caused the contractions to slow down quite a bit, which had me thinking again that maybe this wasn’t the real deal. Finally, around 11, we decided to try to sleep. In the past, my contractions had always disappeared when I lay down to go to bed or take a nap.
But. I couldn’t sleep.
Ryan hit the hay right away, but I tossed and turned, still working through each contraction and thinking with each one that maybe this really was it. After 2 hours of restlessness, right around 1am, I felt a small pop within me…and then, the water came. I sat up straight in bed and said to Ryan, “I think my water just broke!” and he shot up like an arrow.
Sure enough, as I sat up to make sure, I discovered that I was definitely…errr, leaking. Suddenly, everything became MUCH more real—the contractions were real, my water had broken…and more than likely, we were going to have this baby TONIGHT!
We called our doula who asked about the intensity of the contractions. She warned me that after the water breaks, the contractions get MUCH much stronger, and sure enough, within about a minute of my water breaking, the contractions were about tripled in intensity. We needed to get to the hospital, asap.
After a bit of frantic last minute packing, we told the dogs that the next time we saw them…we’d have their new baby sister in our arms! Then, we hit the road for the hospital. Luckily, our hospital is all of 5 minutes away from our house—and that five minutes was still tough. The contractions were coming VERY strongly at that point—I was having to really concentrate on breathing through each one individually.
As the contractions grew more and more intense, I began to wonder if I was crazy for attempting natural childbirth. We’d spent so much time preparing for this moment—we took Bradley classes, read the books, listened to the podcasts, worked with our doula—but I can tell you that nothing prepares you for the actual pain and intensity of working through those contractions, one by one.
Still, by the time we got to the hospital, things began to move so quickly that I barely had time to think about whether or not I would be able to give birth without drugs. When we got to the hospital, they quickly checked me in, got me on the hospital bed, and checked to see where I was at in my progress…and I was already at 7 cm! My doula whooped, and said, “That is GREAT. This baby is COMING—now!” I was so happy to hear that it probably wouldn’t be a long, drawn-out labor. Even with the intensity of the contractions, at that moment, I just thought, “Okay. I can do this,” and went into a zone of working through each contraction, one by one.
I’ll say right now that I don’t think I could have given birth without drugs without our doula. She was amazing. Ryan did exactly what I wanted him to do—provided moral support, stroked my head, told me how great I was doing. He and our doula kind of worked in tandem, with Ryan providing the support I needed to get through each contraction, and our doula literally instructing me on ways to work through each one. She dotted my head with cooling mint oil, and instructed me to breath down through each contraction, and to focus on the idea of moving down with my breath.
After about an hour of the contractions growing more and more intense, the room seemed to buzz with the knowledge that this baby was coming SOON. They checked me again around 3am and I was 9 cm. At this point, my doctor (who was on call) arrived and told me, “You’re doing great!! You’re about to have your baby!!” People warned me that giving birth in a hospital would lower my chances of being able to do it without drugs—that nurses and doctors would be offering me an epidural at every turn. Luckily, this was not at ALL the case for me. My doctor and the hospital nurses were nothing but 100% supportive—an epidural was never offered to me, and again and again they praised me for how well I was doing.
They checked again at 3:15 and this time, I was at 10. It was time to start pushing—and at the point, I don’t think they could have stopped me from pushing if they’d tried. I was getting an incredible urge to bear down and get this baby OUT.
The pain at the point was still intense, but different. People say that giving birth is like having to take the BIGGEST bowel movement of your life, and…yeah, it kind of feels like that. It took me a bit to get the hang of pushing, but my doula and the doctor were offering instructions and words of support the whole time, and after about 20 minutes of intense pushing, my doctor told me, “Okay, this is it—she is ALMOST here. Let’s do this.” Three more intense pushes, and I could literally feel her moving through my body—it was like I could feel that she was right there on the brink. And yes, this is the point where I gasped, “IT BURNS!!!!” My doula quickly said, “That’s good!! She’s almost here. Just push through that pain.” After another intense two pushes, the room erupted in cheers—her head was through! And then two more pushes, and I could feel her body slip through me.
And then…she was here.
The doctors quickly wiped her down and put her on my chest:
It was 3:59 am. And nothing has been the same since.
Some of the uglier parts of childbirth—um, I definitely pooped on the table. The truth is, at that moment, I couldn’t have cared less. I also tore really badly—a 3rd degree tear that will take me about 6 weeks to heal from totally. I’m not sure why I tore so badly—maybe because the pushing happened so quickly, or maybe it was just my bad luck. In any case, I left the hospital with a nice prescription for pain medication, and even with the bad tear, I’ve been feeling better and better every day.
Am I glad I gave birth without drugs? I am. Do I think that it’s the only way to give birth, or the “right” way? Nope. That pain was HELLA intense, and if my labor hadn’t progressed so quickly, I don’t know how long I could have handled it. I think each mom has to do whatever she has to do to make it through to that final goal—holding a sweet, healthy baby in her arms. If the idea of giving birth naturally appeals to you, I say go for it—I can’t tell you how many people I had tell me I was flat-out crazy for even wanting to try, but I’m here to tell you that you CAN do it. On the other hand…if you still think it’s nuts, I kind of don’t blame you. :-) That pain was unlike anything I’ve ever felt before—but it was surreally awesome, too.
Hope you’ve enjoyed hearing Lila’s birth story! We’re still getting used to our new life over here—hopefully I can get another post up soon to tell you more about everything that has been happening. But for now, I’ll just leave you with a few of my favorite shots of our sweet girl:
Have a great day!