Here’s the Thing About Birth: You Never Know What You’re Going to Get
Hello, readers! April here with a special guest post for you today. This is written by Christy Gould. She’s a pastor’s wife, a mommy to five boys and one little lady, and a worship leader. Christy is also an incredibly talented musician and writer. That is how I met her in college; we both studied music and English. She was actually my accompanist for my senior recital! Three of Christy’s babies have been born at home, and this particular post tells the birth story of her most recent baby. Enjoy!
I’ve given birth six times now. I’ll tell you about my sixth in a moment, but for reference, here are my first five birth stories in ten words or less (all unmedicated, spontaneous, vaginal births):
#1: Water broke before labor, 5 hours, hospital birth
#2: Posterior baby half-turned during hospital birth, 8 hours
#3: Planned home and water birth, cord wrap, almost hospital transport, 9 hours
#4: Planned home birth turned into emergency hospital birth, 8 hours
#5: Home birth, water broke before labor, precipitous labor, 2.5 hours
The fourth was the scariest at the time—though in the end I didn’t need any interventions, and he was perfectly fine—but it wasn’t until I started preparing for my sixth that I got scared.
I have been fortunate in my birthing experiences and overall find the experience to be empowering and exhilarating, but in the weeks preceding my sixth birth, I found myself dreading labor and delivery. Out of nowhere, fear crept in. What if I get transferred to the hospital again? What if labor lasts longer than 9 hours (my longest) and I can’t hold out without medication? What if – well, some of the “what ifs” are more graphic than I care to share.
Maybe it was just the cumulative exhaustion of five babies in seven years. Maybe it was the emotional upheaval of carrying a girl after five sons. Maybe it was feeling every one of my 38 years – oh, so different than carrying my first at 28!
At any rate, when I went spontaneously into labor one week post due-date, I was already a little on edge. Contractions began at 8:20 a.m., and I felt certain enough to call my midwife at 10 a.m.
Also at 10 a.m., said contractions slowed down to every 10-15 minutes for the next five hours. Since two of my previous babies had already been born by the five-hour mark, I grew very discouraged very quickly.
While labor is never exactly “fun,” the day was stretching before me with a fair bit of despair instead of excitement. We shipped the five boys off to my parents’ house around 3pm and walked around the block a few times, which helped to clear my head and intensify my contractions but not to increase their frequency.
My midwife had been telling me for two weeks, though, that intensity is more important than frequency. Around 5 p.m., even though I still thought she should wait, she acted on intuition and started the hour-long drive to my house. And thank God for that! The next two hours were a whirlwind.
5:30: Contractions take a huge jump in intensity.
6:01: My water breaks.
6:15: My midwife arrives, followed soon after by the back-up midwife.
6:30-6:45: Vitals are taken, and my blood pressure is high (first time all pregnancy!). I’m only 3 centimeters. Change positions (arg), still only 6 centimeters. Let’s try hands and knees (third birth like this, I hate it, double arg). Okay 9 centimeters.
6:45-7:00: I experience the complete despair common to all transitioning women and yell a lot about how I don’t want to do this anymore. Later, I will ask my midwife, “Why do women insist that they cannot do this when we all know that we can and we will?!”
7:01pm: I’ve had enough. She hasn’t crowned. I have no idea if I’m fully dilated, but with one massive, primal push, my first daughter makes her entrance into the world. From my perspective, it was long enough for me to think, isn’t somebody going to say, “There’s her head” and tell me to slow down? From their perspective (both midwives and my husband), they went from “no visible baby” to “baby on the bed” in a split second. They all laughed in wonder; I collapsed onto my pillow. (If you’re going to do it in one push, you need to be prepared for that to be one serious push.)
So. Was it longer than my previous births? Yeah, by an hour or two. Was it harder? No. Scarier? Definitely not. Still empowering and exhilarating? Yes, maybe, mostly. Worth every minute? Most definitely.