My Birth Story – Drug-free birth feat. back labor!

Disclaimer: My child is almost 19 months old now. I started this blog with the intention of documenting my birth experience and early child care. Thinking I’d have all this time to sit on my laptop and tell stories when my baby was born. Not so much! My baby would not take naps unless she literally fell asleep attached to my boob. I should probably write a post about that one. In any case, if there was ever any time for me to write, I chose to eat/sleep/shower instead 🙂

That being said, I remember my birth experience like it was yesterday!

I knew from the get-go that I wanted to go through child birth without drugs. I don’t know why exactly – sometimes I feel like I need to put myself through the hardest way possible. But I also read / heard that if you have some scoliosis (which I do) that the epidural might not “take” or only affect one side. And then there’s also the fact that you’re sending some big drugs through your body. I honestly don’t think it really makes a  difference, because most babies are born from a Mama who had some numbing and they are perfectly perfect. This was just a personal decision for me. Also, like I said, sometimes I feel like I need to do everything the hard way.

My baby girl was due November 8th. So, clearly that means she would arrive on that day, right? Wrong!

It was October 31st, Halloween, and my in laws were in town, including my sister-in-law and her husband. There was lots of drinking (not by me, obv) and handing out candy to children and hanging out on the stoops and…. I even dressed up poor Grover, my male dog, as Marilyn Monroe. I had planned to take the following week off to organize the baby room, get a pedicure….nest…you know! 🙂

12190927_10153224346552636_219681826737716718_n There are few sad moments in a dog’s life but this may have been one of them for poor Grover. Before anyone calls dog protective services on me, please know that he was a willing participant and got extra treats 🙂

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That’s a pic of Grover and I, in his natural, non-defiled state.

The night continued and around 10 or so I was not feeling that great and my lower back was achy. So I excused myself and went to bed.

Around 4 or 5 am, I woke up with my pj shorts completely wet. Hmmm, that’s weird! I went to the bathroom. I decided to call the midwife. I wasn’t due for a week and I was not expecting my water to break before I was in labor. I planned on laboring at home as long as I could and then going to the hospital where my doula (if you don’t know what that is you should look it up and hire one for your next child birth!) would meet up with me. My husband woke up while I was calling the midwife. The phone call went something like this: “Hi, I have some major wetness going on and just wanted to let you know, I’m not due for another week so I just wasn’t sure what this was. Should I be concerned?” They told me to come in. I said, well, ok. My husband was awake at this time and I told him what was going on. I said I would just run myself to the hospital and it probably wasn’t anything. Luckily, he was sober enough to realize that was dumb.

On the way to the hospital I was starving because, I just woke up! Of course the only option at that hour was McDonalds so, we went through the McDonalds drive through. That was one of the only times I had fast food during my pregnancy. It may have been the only time but I can’t remember.

We get to the hospital and a nurse hooked me up to a monitor. Me, being quite particular about things when it came to my whole pregnancy and labor process, wanted to know everything the nurse was doing. She – without asking me (I had something to say about that) – stuck her fingers inside me and WHOOSH! tonnnnsss more liquid came pouring out.

So apparently, I was in labor. I think my labor actually started the night before when I didn’t feel that great. At this point at the hospital, I was 4cm dilated. I was having contractions. And they were something similar to mild cramps. I thought, I got this! Piece of CAKE! Riiiiight….

I got to have a room with a tub, bouncy ball, the whole bit. You would be surprised how “natural birth” friendly Tallahassee Memorial Hospital is! They literally offered anything and everything you could want aside from a water birth (I think they said it was coming…? I can’t remember.)

Around 9:30am my contractions started becoming to the point where I couldn’t walk and talk all over the hallways. I had to go the room and start…dealing. They got pretty intense and then at some point I started having back labor. I’m not going to lie, that was awful. Contractions, even if they feel like your guts are being twisted, only last a short time and then you get some relief. Back labor does. not. stop! I was in constant, continuous pain for the rest of my labor. I did not give in and do an epidural but man I came close! If it wasn’t for my doula being there I probably would have.

I puked. A couple times. The reason why I didn’t puke many many times is because the midwife gave me alcohol wipes to sniff which for some strange reason really help with nausea! Who knew! I tried essential oils …. lavender I think…. but nothing worked like those damn alcohol swabs.

Nothing would rid me of the back labor pain. On top of that my contractions were no effin joke. My midwife offered (and I accepted) to put some saline solution in my back (which she assured me was not “drugs”) under my skin or something like that which relieved the back labor for about an hour and that let me experience a normal labor process (sans back labor). I say normal, but I mean, I was in so much pain that any relief  from the back labor felt like a Godsend. Unfortunately, that only works once so I couldn’t keep getting those saline shots. I got to my breaking point, probably around 3 or 4, when I decided that if they did not check me and tell me I was about to be at the pushing stage soon I was going to need the drugs. I’m not even sure I would have been able to get them anyway. They never even offered them to me (because I of course told them no to!) They came in and I was 8cm and said…just a couple more cm to go! OK I got this.

Around 5:30 or so (I’m going by what my husband remembers) we got to the pushing stage. And….omg… as my little baby moved down, the back labor went away! I was thrilled. You read about the ‘ring of fire’ and pushing a baby out and all this pain the pushing stage is going to be. For me, my back wasn’t throbbing anymore and I was like, “LET’S DO THIS!” I even cracked a couple of (probably  not funny) jokes with the midwife. Pushing wasn’t ‘easy,’ per se, but that is the LAST STAGE so it just doesn’t matter. You just do it. I remember pushing as hard as I could and the midwife saying, “ok this time I need you to push really hard!” ugh… 

My husband says that I pushed for about an hour. At one point the midwife could see my little girl’s head. Mila had a lot of hair (and no I didn’t have heartburn during my pregnancy!). She informed us jovially that she was using my fluids to make a mokawk with my partially born baby’s hair. Greeeat!!!

At 6:40pm EST on November 1st, my little baby girl, Mila Solene Reid was born! As soon as she popped out my midwife threw her up on my chest and she looked up at me with her big eyes as if she was saying, “oh, so that’s what you look like!” It was pretty amazing. I also had never held a small baby like that before so I was overwhelmed with every emotion possible and also, at the same time, trying to make sure I was holding this new born baby in a way that she wanted to be held.

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That is a picture of me literally the day before I gave birth (October 31st) after I’d gone for a run and then for some reason I was in the bathroom of a Whole Foods and decided to snap a selfie. I ran all throughout my pregnancy. Not at any sort of record breaking pace or distance, but 2 to 3 miles 2 or 3 times a week at whatever pace felt great for me. Sometimes that was mostly walking and sometimes mostly running. I just listened to my body. It was the one thing that I could do that would make me physically feel so good! Maybe it was the endorphin rush.

The other pic is the day after I gave birth. My experience in the hospital was great – my baby was never taken away from me (to another room or anything like that) and the nurses and lactation consultant were very helpful trying to help me get Mila to latch (which she wouldn’t).

I breastfed for 8 months although the first 4 months of that process were very very trying and painful. I’m all about the “breast is best” and trust me I know the science of a baby’s gut if ANY formula reaches it when they are super young…but when you are in the midst of your baby screaming at your boob because she apparently is not getting what she wants and you don’t know what to do and you break down and give her a bottle…. I mean, it’s going to be ok! Women shouldn’t be so hard on themselves. I was very hard on myself when it ever got to that. I began to dread every 2.5-3hrs when my baby would be hungry because of the agonizing process to get her to latch and not knowing if she’d be happy.

Another thing to note about my childbirth: I came out strep B positive which, if you’re pregnant, you know what that is. A harmless bacteria to everyone EXCEPT pregnant women. I am VERY opposed to using antibiotics for any other reasons than absolute necessity and I definitely did not want to take antibiotics during my childbirth and possibly remove all that good bacteria my baby would get from going down the canal! But…. if, in the small chance my baby would have gotten sick right after birth with strep B I would beat myself up to no end if I didn’t go by my midwife’s recommendation to have the antibiotics during birth. So, I did wait until I was pretty far along before I let them hook me up. I decided that if I wasn’t even close to pushing her out there was no need for them (my own opinion). I had about 1.5 rounds of antibiotics. Since I did get the antibiotics, I didn’t let them give my baby a bath until 2 days after she was born and I kept her skin-to-skin for as much as I could – in my mind, replenishing some good bacteria on her. This may have absolutely no scientific backing but in my head, it seemed like the right thing to do.

In summary, for anyone who is interested in giving birth without drugs:

  • Get a doula! I can’t even explain what it was that made having her there so helpful. She literally just let me around, getting me in different positions that might help, brought me water…. I don’t even know. It was just great having someone in there who knew what was up to have your back. Yes, your husband might be in there, but he’s never done this either. Even my husband – who was against having a doula in the beginning – afterwards recognized that it was she who had everything under control.
  • I really liked going the midwife route. I had no one pushing drugs on me and they (I saw more than 1) were very supportive and helpful and spent time with me and all my 99 questions. That being said, I only saw the midwife or anyone come in when they came to check me and then they would spend a few minutes with me. You’re usually in labor for hourssss so if you don’t have someone else there with you, you’re just in there in pain by yourself (or you and your partner) the majority of the time.
  • I feel extremely blessed that I had such a short labor. I mean, I was really only in PAINFUL labor for probably  8 hours. I have friends that were in labor for 36 hours. WTF.
  • I want to say that I feel like running and eating super clean and doing yoga and all that was helpful, and maybe it was. I also know people who did all that and had to have c-sections. There is no sure fire formula. I would recommend being as healthy and active as feels comfortable to you so if you do end up with complications, you know you did all you could to prevent them and it is what it is at that point.
  • If you plan on going “drug free” and wind up screaming for them later on…. don’t even sweat it. It’s impossible to know what pain you are going to feel or what you’re going to go through until you’re actually there. Not only that, but in hind sight, is it really that bad being numb down there while all that is going on?!
  • In the end, you want a healthy happy baby. If that means doing an epidural, supplementing with formula, or having your baby in a barn or what have you…. having your baby healthy and YOU be well taken care of and healthy is all that matters!
  • Don’t let anyone tell you what to do. The best thing you can do is be educated and read other womens’ birth stories and then make up your own mind. I highly recommend getting Ina May’s Guide to Child Birth book and skipping a lot of the other nonsense that tells you the 8 million things that could be wrong with your child. It helps reading other stories because then you realize how different everyone and everything can be and there is really no “normal”. That goes for parenting too. What works for one parent/baby may not work for someone else. I get very irritated when I hear critical moms saying things like, “she shouldn’t be doing xyz with her baby…” well, other Mama, you don’t know what that situation is. I’ve had my own moments where I’ve silently judged and I think to myself…tsk tsk, Anna!
  • Last – the fact that we can grow a human and then actually give birth to it is a MIRACLE! I mean…. if men could do this, they’d be in bars talking about  how many babies they had birthed! It would be a competition! Don’t tell anyone I said this, but child birth and early child care has made me realize what a superior species we are to men. That’s so not PC but honestly…. look at all we’ve done! And still have jobs and opinions and unique thoughts and not be crazy (well not all the time, at least)…. and we’re also able to take care of multiple humans all while we change the world. Let’s all raise our daughters to be strong, kind women and our sons to be respectful and considerate men. Can I get an Amen! 🙂

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There are zero baby books that say to leave your newborn child next to a dog in his doggie bed. My child required me to hold her and walk her around non stop and sometimes I had to use the bathroom, as people do from time to time. Grover was and is seriously the sweetest, kindest dog ever, even to this day when Mila pulls his ears and hair and doesn’t know any better. So that happened. She was very content in his little bed with him for a few minutes. Now at a year and a half old, she curls up next to him when she plays with her books and toys. It’s so stinking cute.