Ashlee’s First Birth: A nurse who had a great, all natural hospital birth!

September 23, 2011

I was anticipating my little girl’s arrival sometime around October 5. Of course there is really no way to know when she would decide to come, but when I woke up on Saturday, September 17 and got ready for work, I had no idea what was about to happen.

At about 8 am at work, I used the restroom and realized I was starting to lose my mucous plug. It was such a minor amount of blood, I honestly thought “Well that’s unexpected, but this could still take a few days.” At 37 weeks 3 days gestation, I was certainly surprised my body was starting to prepare to deliver this baby. Robbie was also at work, so I texted him and said “Just thought you might like a heads up- I think I just lost my mucous plug. We may be having this baby in the next couple of days.”

I went about work as usual. At noon I was standing behind the nurse’s desk talking with several patients when I felt a sudden little “pop” and moments later a gush of warm fluid. I stopped talking mid-sentence as I realized what had just happened. I imagine I had a rather stunned look on my face. The patient I was talking with- who happens to be a doula- looked at me and asked “Um… are you in labor?” I said, “My water just broke” and immediately turned around and ran into the med room where I could be alone. I immediately called my boss and told her what happened. She asked me to call the other nurse that was working that morning and let her know what was happening and then to just leave. I called Robbie and told him my water had broken and he needed to head home from work. The other nurse came over, we counted the narcotics and I gave the fastest report of my life, and I headed home too. I called my midwife and told her my water had broken. I was not contracting yet at all (other than the very minor, non-painful, what I thought had been practice contractions I had been having for weeks). The fluid was clear and since I wasn’t really contracting she told me I could take my time, but that I needed to head to the hospital in the next hour because we wanted to start the antibiotics since I was GBS+. I hurried and ate some lunch because I was starving and knew I wouldn’t get to eat in the hospital, we packed our bag, called our parents and told them what was happening, and left.

Erica had called the hospital for us, so the nurses were expecting us when we got there. We settled into our room, my nurse checked to verify that my water had indeed broken, put in my IV (in my wrist of all places, how annoying), and checked my cervix. I was at 2 cm, 90% effaced, and Lauren was at a -1 station. We decided to walk to halls to see if we could get contractions going and my cervix to continue dilating. I knew since my water had broken, and especially with my being GBS+, that if I didn’t start contracting soon I would be looking at pitocin, and the natural, unmedicated childbirth I was determined to have would become quite a bit more difficult. Thankfully my contractions started as we walked, and walked, and walked. I wasn’t in pain at all, and with every contraction I knew that bag of pitocin was getting further away, which made me honestly excited for each tightening sensation in my abdomen. After close to 2 hours of walking, I was 4 cm dilated, still 90% effaced. Lauren was still at a -1.

At that point, Robbie and I decided to stay in our room, but I stayed upright, hoping gravity would help me out. When Erica got there a little while later, I was at a 4 ½, but contractions were now regular and getting closer and closer together. She suggested I get on the birth ball to try and open up my pelvis and see if we could get Lauren to descend a bit more. It didn’t take long to see just how effective a birthing ball can be. My contractions started to get uncomfortable, and I started using my surge breathing techniques I had learned through hypnobirthing. Robbie helped me breathe through each surge and I concentrated on relaxing my body. I listened to my body with every surge and reminded myself how important it was that I release any tension and let my body take over. As my contractions were getting stronger and closer together, Erica suggested I get in the tub to help me relax even more. I got in the tub and honestly, I can’t remember ever being more relaxed in my entire life. Robbie stayed by my side and poured water over my stomach over and over again. I continued to use my surge breathing through each contraction. My whole body felt so loose and relaxed- I even fell asleep for a little while. My contractions started spacing out more and more, and I could tell things were slowing down. I felt amazing in the tub, but honestly… I wanted to hold my baby sooner rather than later, so I made the decision to get out of the tub.

Once out of the tub, contractions started picking up again almost immediately. With each contraction I would close my eyes and concentrate on breathing and releasing tension. Robbie would stroke my arm and breathe with me. It’s amazing what that did to help me stay calm and relaxed. I started repeating my birth affirmations in my head. With my hypnobirthing practice I had been listening to positive birth affirmations on my iPod for months- but I didn’t feel like listening to them now. I’m not sure why, I just wanted the room to be quiet. It was so much easier for me to relax that way.

Erica checked me again and I was at 6cm. She suggested the birth ball again to help Lauren continue descending. I got on the birth ball and immediately felt an increase in pressure. I don’t know what it is about the birth ball, but it was very effective in opening up my pelvis. Within an hour I was at 8 cm. I stayed on the ball and with Robbie’s help continued my surge breathing with contractions and calm breathing in between them. This was the most intense part of labor for me. With each contraction I would grip Robbie’s hand on one side and my mom’s on the other and Erica would put counter pressure on my hips. I was trying to take all of the tension in my abdomen and release it through gripping their hands. Within minutes of being told I was at an 8, I felt the urge to push. “Felt the urge to push” is not really a very effective way of describing the intensity of what I was experiencing. My body just started pushing without my even trying; I couldn’t have stopped if I wanted to.

I got back on the bed and Erica checked me again. I was at a 9 ½. One contraction later and I was complete. I pushed for half an hour before Lauren was born. I listened to and worked with my body and it felt amazing. I felt strong. It was the most incredibly intense and amazing experience. Painful? Sure. But it was a good pain. It felt purposeful. The few minutes before Lauren was born her heart rate started to drop significantly with contractions. She recovered in between them, but it was a pretty significant drop. I remember hearing Erica ask the nurse, “Is that the maternal heart rate, or fetal heart rate?” I knew if there was any confusing whether the monitor was picking up my heart rate or Lauren’s, she was in trouble, and I suddenly became more focused and determined than I have ever been in my entire life. I heard Erica say, “Ashlee, I could do an episiotomy and we could have this baby right now.” I had talked with my midwives at a prenatal appointment about if and when they would do an episiotomy, and they said only if the baby was in distress, and only if they thought it would make a difference. Something inside my head just clicked at that moment, and I said no. I just suddenly knew I could bring her here on my own, and I knew she would be okay if I could do it soon. Looking back, the nurse in me thinks that was a crazy decision. But the mom in me knows it was the right one. Robbie and my mom both say they saw something in my face change at that moment. I started pushing, and I didn’t stop. At 12:17 am, with one big push, Lauren was born. That moment of feeling her slip from my body and knowing she was here is the single most incredible moment of my life and was worth everything. She started crying almost immediately, and her Apgar scores were 8 and 10. Erica placed her in my arms and the nurses were able to assess her while I held her. She was 5 lbs 7 oz of complete perfection.
There is not a single moment of birthing Lauren that I would change. Her wonderful entry into this world has changed me forever, and I love her more than words will ever say.

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