When I was pregnant, I always loved reading others’ birth stories. I found it fascinating to see how each person’s experience greatly differed from one another’s. I wanted to share mine here, for any of you to read and for my own documentation.
She’s here! Born on June 21, 2016 at 11:03pm, Eleanor Penelope joined our world weighing in at 7lbs 15oz and 21 1/2 inches long. We waited to find out the gender and throughout my pregnancy I (and all our friends and family) thought I was having a boy, so we were surprised when a girl popped out – but beyond thrilled!
Before becoming pregnant I always knew I wanted to have a natural birth with zero interventions of any kind. It was something that was very important to me and I knew I had to prepare for it. Midway through my pregnancy, we registered for The Bradley Method childbirth classes. It was a total of 12 classes spread out over a course of 12 weeks. It took some dedication. The method primarily teaches you how to manage the pain through relaxation and proper breathing with the help of your spouse. The husband plays a major role in the preparation and acts as your doula during birth. The class also taught me several exercises to help get my body prepared for the labor. Would I recommend the class to other couples and take it again? Absolutely. It was such a crucial part of how I was able to have a successful natural birth and my husband was so thankful that he played such a big role in helping me. We also had a written birth plan to take to the hospital to let everyone know what we were planning.
I was originally due June 17 and Eleanor decided to stick around an extra 4 days before making her debut. Rewind a few weeks to my 37 and 38 week check up and the doctor said I was already 2cm dilated and had a bulging bag of waters. She was sure I wouldn’t make it to my due date. Then at my 39 week check up I was still bulging waters and this time 4cm dilated. Again, she was sure I would have the baby in the next few days. I started getting anxious as my due date came and went without a baby and I definitely did not want to last until 42 weeks. The average pregnancy length for first time moms is 41 1/2 weeks and I started thinking I’d be part of that average. So, I started looking into ways to induce labor naturally. There are many tricks out there including sex, spicy foods, walking, and an infamous eggplant parmesan recipe.
I heard about these “eggplant babies” that were born within 48 hours after the mom ate the eggplant Parmesan from Scallini’s. In fact, their claim has been so successful that they share the recipe online for moms who can’t make it to the restaurant. Next thing I know, I’m one day past my due date and in the kitchen creating this concoction with the hopes that it’ll put me in labor. 48 hours later and still nothing. So I gave up and told myself that that the baby just isn’t ready yet.
Another day later and I woke up at 1:30am with my first contraction. I wasn’t sure what it was so I started timing them. I had three contractions within thirty minutes and decided to wake my husband to let him know. We knew it could be a very long day so we tried to sleep as long as we could before getting too excited. They stuck around at 10 minutes apart for several hours. Around 4-5am they became stronger and were 8 minutes apart. I couldn’t sleep through them any longer. I got up and took a shower, ate breakfast and started my day. Still, we were trying not to get overly excited this early. My contractions lasted another 18 hours coming stronger and in intervals. We recognized what stage of labor I was in from the classes we took. Early first stage came, active first stage, and then we recognized transition.
We labored at home as long as we could (15 hours), in the hopes that it would lessen our chance of intervention at the hospital. We knew that if we got there too early, they could send us home or put us on a timeline. It wasn’t until I was in the transition stage that we decided to go to the hospital. At this point my contractions had stalled and we knew that they’d come back stronger than ever for second stage.
We checked into the hospital and I was 8cm dilated. I was so thankful because that meant I was close and that we came at the right time. The we labored for a few more hours in the room, walking around and staying as calm as possible. Before I knew it I was fully dilated and and my bag of waters was beyond bulging. We decided to let the doctor break my water because it would speed up the last little bit and let the head drop into a lower position. At this point everyone was shocked that my water didn’t break sooner. Immediately after my water broke my contractions became noticeably stronger and I began feeling the urge to push.
The doctor let us do some practice pushes to see if I was truly ready. Before I knew it I was was pushing for an hour and a half in various positions and only had a few more pushes to go. As I got closer, the environment and energy in the room changed. Nurses were standing on the sidelines and the doctor was waiting to catch the baby. Up until this point the contractions were manageable with the help of my husband and relaxation techniques. It wasn’t until the very end that became excruciating. I did the final pushes and she was born, giving me a 2nd degree perineal tear in the process.
Eleanor was born with the cord wrapped around her neck twice and her hand in between. When the doctor caught her head and cut the cords the mood was scary. I didn’t find out what happened until afterwards. They put her on my chest for a few seconds after and then checked her for any problems. She was perfectly healthy and didn’t even need to be suctioned! She came back to my chest for bonding and started breastfeeding immediately.
I couldn’t believe that we made it through the birth exactly the way we had hoped. Everything on our birth plan went as planned and we are so thankful for that. I know some births have unforeseeable complications, I’m just a firm believer that my healthy pregnancy, nutrition, and proper preparation played a huge role in our success (with the exception of a broken foot at 36 weeks, ouch). Being free of medications and an IV made the laboring process much more enjoyable, as I was able to be up and moving around the entire time, and again right after birth.
We are so in love with the new addition to our family!