When I think back on my first childbirth experience, it reminds me of a nightmare. The pain isn’t what I remember with angst; it’s the way that nothing went the way I wanted. I had dreams and desires. I had an ideal… and it wasn’t unreasonable. I just had a terrible doctor.
So when I found out I was expecting again nearly 4 years later, I started planning immediately. I was determined that not only was it possible for me to have a VBAC, but that I wouldn’t accept any medication. Childbirth is a natural process, and it seemed to me, the more unnatural stuff I allowed, the less likely it was that that process would go naturally. After a ton of research, it was clear that this wasn’t my opinion – it was the truth. Because of my prior experience with nursing (I insisted I would nurse my daughter exclusively for at least a year & refused to listen to any doubters, and it worked!), I knew that I just had to set my mind to it and DO it. And because God blessed me with an incredibly supportive husband, it was going to happen my way, no matter what any doctor said.
I checked out Husband-Coached Childbirth at the NRH library and read it aloud to
Collin. He was so confident. “This will be just like coaching anything else,” he thought. He was onboard. I started looking at midwives, and Collin balked. “I want you to have this baby in a hospital.” Not an unreasonable request, but I wanted my natural birth! So we looked at OBGyns, but they all seemed money-hungry. Then we found the UNT Nurse-Midwives. They deliver at Harris Methodist in downtown Fort Worth. We scheduled a consult. They could talk to us for 15 minutes without charging a dime, and accepted took our insurance. We went in and spoke with Tanya, and she made us very confident and comfortable. Yep. This was it. And the best compromise ever. I got my midwives & my natural birth, he got his nearby doctor & health equipment.
So that’s how we got here. On October 14th at 2:25 p.m., I was going through a box of high school keepsakes (and realizing I’m never going to care about that napkin like I did that
night haha…) and my water broke. I just knew it. I called the midwives’ office to tell them. The nurse said “be here in an hour,” but I’d already spoken to two of the midwives that said I could wait at home as long as I was comfortable. So I hopped in the shower… then we packed for the hospital, went to IHOP so I could eat something (because how the heck are ice chips supposed to give you the energy to go through labor & childbirth?), and headed to the hospital around 4 or 5. We got to the hospital and went to the valet. We were told it was covered for when I went into labor, but the guy wanted us to pay him up front. I turned to Collin & said “I don’t mind the walk. It’s good for me,” so we drove into the parking garage and parked. We grabbed all our things and walked to labor & delivery. They wanted to send us to maternal observation but I told them they didn’t need to “observe” me – I was in labor. They needed to give me a room. It took some convincing, but I got into the room I wanted, and they eventually confirmed that I did, in fact, know what was going on with my body. (Surprise, surprise.) They called the midwives group
and Kathleen came to check on me. Yay. I wanted her to deliver to me 🙂 (I had a few favorites haha.) She said I was 4 cm but they wanted to see Chris moving more. They gave me an IV full of saline. I wasn’t excited about it (boo medical intervention), but it was
basically just water, so it was fine. Collin was glad; he wanted me to take Saline all along.
After about 20 minutes, they let me get up and walk the halls. It was great. Actually, it felt like nothing. Like just walking. No biggie. I was doing it 🙂 We went back into the room and some of Collin’s friends came in. It was cool having them there. They were funny, and a fantastic distraction from the contractions that were finally starting to hurt. Around 9 pm (I knew the time because The Mentalist was on), it started getting intense. I don’t know if painful was a word I would use, but I could feel it. It was amazing, though. Everytime I had a pretty good contraction I would call Collin over. He would wrap his arms around me, hug me, maybe kiss me or pray over me, and when it was over, he went back to entertaining. This went on till they let me walk again. It was so welcome — I was sick of sitting.
This walk was slightly more challenging. I would slow down every few minutes and hug Collin. The contraction would pass and I kept walking. I walked for 30 minutes, then laid back down to be monitored. It was almost 10 when they helped me to the bathtub. I was so excited. Relief. And it was everything I hoped it would be! I had to keep reminding myself that holding my breath, tensing up, etc. was hurting me. I think every contraction started with me tensing up and then slowly remembering to breathe. Collin held my hand the whole time. I think I spent an hour in the tub, but it felt like 10 minutes.
I was 5 1/2 cm and trying not to get discouraged at 11:00. Was I going to be able to do this? Yes. I had to. And I was completely capable. And if reminding myself wasn’t enough, my husband was whispering it in my ear. After another session of walking — much longer this time, but I definitely didn’t walk far — I made it back to my room to get checked again. 8 1/2 cm. Yay! I was finally getting somewhere. At this point I mostly sat in bed, listening to worship music, praying, holding my husband’s hand & reading the occasional bible verse as my daddy brought them to me. I moved around some, asking Collin to help any way I thought would help (and almost immediately having him stop). Kathleen came in and told Collin how he could ease the pain a little. It kept me just comfortable enough that I could breathe more easily. Though I swore it wouldn’t happen to me, it did. I yelled “I have to go to the bathroom.” The nurse and my husband both told me I didn’t, but I insisted they let me at least sit on the potty. I labored there for a little while; long enough that I told Collin I couldn’t take it anymore… long enough that they decided I could sit there while they checked me again.
9 1/2 cm. I was almost there. Kathleen sent the nurse to get a low dose of morphine. “It’ll calm you down so we can get the rest of the way there.” I felt defeated, but relieved… which was their plan all along. Within 5 minutes, I was at a 10 and getting ready to push. The nurse brought the bag of medicine into the room, laid it down next to my bed unopened, and helped get me into position.
The next 20 minutes were unforgettable. The sweet red-headed nurse with an Irish accent (whose name I tragically can’t remember), held my right foot & Collin held my left, pressing my knees to my chest as Kathleen coached me through pushing my son out. I only remember pushing 4 or 5 times before she said “I can see his head!” I could hardly believe it. I had been warring the fear of failure the entire time, but this was it! I cleared my mind, quietly worshipped God along with the background music, and got ready to greet my son. Kathleen told me when to push him out. It burned a little, but I didn’t care. I was about to meet my son, and the pain was about to stop. Before I knew it, I could hear my son… then I could see him… then I was holding him…
After exactly 12 hours of labor, Christopher Joseph Elliott was born at 2:25 a.m. He was 8 lbs. 2 oz, and 20 inches long. 10 fingers, 10 toes, and 100% perfect 🙂
I’m grateful for this experience. I’m blessed by my husband who knew what I wanted and made me stick to it by any means possible. I’m amazed by the fantastic nurse who helped us throughout the process, and I’m awed by the efficiency and skill of Kathleen Donaldson, CNM. And whenever anyone asks how labor was, I’m excited to confidently say “It was amazing.” It was. And I’ll do it again with our next one, for sure.