When people hear that I gave birth to our son, Leo, without any medication they often ask, “how was it?” So we’re sharing our story here to help answer that question and let you in on the miracle of life.
The night of Tim Margiotta’s CD release concert, I woke around 4 am with some uncomfortable feelings, but didn’t think much of it and fell back asleep, waking a few more times overnight without losing too much sleep. Paul and I woke up around 9 am to do a small family shoot. The cramping continued so I got a little suspicious and thought it’d be best to try and rest longer, in case we were to have a long night ahead of us. I asked Paul if he could go solo, and he agreed. While Paul was gone I didn’t get anymore sleep, but tried to relax using the relaxation techniques we learned in our birth class at Holistic Beginnings. I tried to distract myself and go about life as usual, ate breakfast – which I later threw up, did some laundry, and took a shower. Whenever I felt a contraction I just leaned forward, breathed, and let it pass. Paul got home around noon and that’s when things got interesting. At this point, I wasn’t really sure if this was actually active labor. My sister-in-law had just had a two day long labor two months earlier so I was preparing myself for a similar experience. As the labor progressed and I was still unsure of what was happening with my contractions very irregularly spaced. I think I was also afraid to think “this is it” because (1.) I was afraid of facing labor and (2.) I didn’t want to be a baby and think it was the real thing too soon. I thought I might psych myself out and freak out if I recognized it as labor contractions. Paul, also preparing himself for a long labor experience, was trying to go about life as normal and not get too involved, so that he would have energy for the end when I would need him more. Then Paul witnessed some of the contractions and how quickly they were coming so he spoke to our doula Kim,and his sister who is a nurse. Talking with them made him realize it was the real thing. He encouraged me by telling me I would be holding our son sooner than expected, bringing me hope.
Finally, my contractions went from being all over the place to 3 minutes apart. It was go time. Being the true procrastinator that I am, I never packed a hospital bag for myself. So for the whole two minutes I had in between contractions I tried to pack, a.k.a. throw stuff in a pile. Paul and I rushed out the door to the hospital. We were able to pray in the car, I offered everything I was going through for my dying grandmother and any other intention I could think of, which brought me so much peace. The contractions slowed a little in the car because I was really nervous about being in the car – it was so uncomfortable. As we got close to the hospital Paul told me he was a little nervous that it seemed like the labor was slowing, so I tried to let go and sure enough the contractions continued coming strong. I realize now that I was actually starting to push in the car but I didn’t recognize it at the time.
We pulled up to the hospital and found a sign stating there was no valet parking on Sundays. Great. Paul being the loving supporting coach that he is didn’t want to leave my side and suggested we park in the lot. I knew I couldn’t handle that. At this point in the labor whenever I felt a contraction I went on all fours, put my head down, swayed my hips and breathed. It was the only way I could get through them and I did it almost without thinking, so walking through the parking lot stopping every three minutes to lay on the ground wasn’t going to work. I also didn’t want to be alone. So Paul did the only thing he could; scribbled a note saying “WIFE IN LABOR BE RIGHT BACK” , threw it on the dashboard and we raced inside. As Paul wheeled me into Labor & Delivery it was a bit chaotic. There were a bunch of people coming in the room, asking me questions and telling me to do things I did not want to do. The nurse checked me and I prayed that she would not say I was 4 centimeters dilated. I felt like I couldn’t handle this for 6 more hours. She checked, and horray! 10 centimeters! I was fully dilated, which meant the pain and labor was almost over! The contractions must have slowed because I didn’t start actively pushing until about an hour after we arrived at the hospital (remember I felt like pushing in the car).
I laid on my side for them to check the baby and one of the nurses tried to give me a hep-lock (that’s basically the start of an IV, which I did not need). As the nurse is giving me a bruise trying to poke me she says “stop pushing”, but you can’t stop a woman’s body from doing what it needs to do! I kept pushing, Paul held me and counted in my ear, and our doula held and rubbed my arms and legs. I have to thank Laura from our birthing class and my sister-in-law Esther for teaching me and reminding me to push for at least 10 seconds at a time, and three times in one contraction. With all that productive pushing, just 20 minutes later I caught our son and held him in my arms and against my body. It was an un-be-liev-able, amazing, rewarding experience. I had so much love and support from my husband and our birthing team. And I feel God gave me the remarkable gift of what I consider a perfect birth. 12 hours total, 20 min pushing, 1 stitch, 0 pain meds and one perfect baby boy. So when people ask, “how was it?” I say, it was the best birth I could have possibly had.
Our brand new baby:
Our doula and son, Kim and Leo. She was amazing!!
The proud grandparents
Leo watching his Mommy.
Are you wondering why there aren’t more pictures from during the birth of a photographer’s baby? The answer is, I wouldn’t let him take pictures! We wanted us both to be fully present and for there to be no distraction. It would make me feel uncomfortable, which could slow contractions or making coping techniques more difficult.