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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Maggie's birth story

After a weekend of waiting and trying various suggestions to 'jumpstart' labor, we decided Monday to try one more thing. I received numerous texts from friends checking in and offering their suggestions for how to get things moving along. Given that I had been progressing already and my due date was the previous week, we decided I should try castor oil. My husband, Brandon, had done a little research on it, and it seemed there was a 50-70% chance it would start my labor.

I poured myself a glass of orange juice and mixed two tablespoons of castor oil with it. To my surprise, it went down rather quickly and I felt like there was vaseline on my lips afterward.

About two hours after drinking the castor oil, I felt two mild contractions, but wasn't sure if they were contractions, since I hadn't felt any previously. I decided to get ready for the day, taking a long shower. I was hopeful it would be my last time washing my hair and shaving my legs with a pregnant belly.

Due to my husband's work schedule and our distance from the hospital, we made plans for me to spend the afternoon closer to the hospital with a friend...just in case. Brandon loaded up the car with our hospital bags, the dog and his necessary items. Even if we were only gone for my husband's work shift, it would be too long to leave Milton alone.

I spent the afternoon with my friend, Rachel. She is also a doula in training and was hopeful her schedule would allow her to be there for our little one's birth.

About 3:15pm, Rachel and I were walking down the street to another friend's house and as I took a step I felt a gush of water. My water broke! Being GBS positive, I had been told to call my OB if my water broke before I got to the hospital, so I did.

Contractions started within minutes of my water breaking. Rachel grabbed my notebook without being asked and started recording the time I felt each contraction.

Within an hour of my water breaking, Rachel, Brandon and I were on our way to the hospital. The ride seemed to last forever, with contractions getting closer together. By the time we arrived at the hospital, my contractions varied between two and five minutes apart.

In triage, we learned I was 4 cm dilated and the nurse "verified" that I was actually in labor (I didn't find this funny at the time).

By 6pm, I was getting settled in Labor and Delivery and was ushered into a hospital gown. I had already entered Laborland and was feeling quite groggy.

I remember few things vividly from L + D. Three nurses attempted to get an IV in, but called the anesthesiologist to take care of it. The castor oil left me dehydrated, so getting an IV for the penicillin because I was GBS positive left me with some extra bruises.

We were at one of Boston's teaching hospitals and that brought a number of residents and interns by. I remember this one with her notebook asking me all the same questions the doctor had asked previously. When she learned I was planning to have an unmedicated birth, she clapped her hands together like a cheerleader and said "I understand you're doing NCB?" (natural childbirth). I wanted to kick her, instead I faked a smile and nodded because that's all the energy I had.

Through the labor process, I wasn't very aware of time. In fact, I had a hard time keeping my head up. I was falling asleep between contractions to conserve energy. Around 8pm, I was 9 cm dilated and getting urges to push. However, the nurse and doctor told me not to push because the anterior lip on my cervix still needed to move out of the way.

I was pretty frustrated and it was hard to fight the urge to push with each contraction. The nurse suggested I sit on the birthing ball to move things along, so I did. This went on for three hours, trying a couple different positions.

The only things I remember between 8-11pm were asking my husband to put on some music because I had created a labor playlist and the nurse, my husband, and Rachel taking turns rubbing my back.

The doctor came in to check on me around 11:15pm and my cervix hadn't moved as hoped. She ended up pushing the lip out of the way, which hurt but I was so done fighting the urge to push. By 11:30, I was ready to start pushing.

I had read that lying on your back while giving birth makes your pelvis small, so I hoped to avoid lying flat on my back. I had a few positions in mind, but had a hard time explaining them. Thankfully the nurse had several suggestions and worked with me as I learned how to push. I was pretty exhausted from the previous hours of labor.

With each series of three pushes during a contraction, I kept preparing myself for the pain that was to come. I was fixated on the infamous "ring of fire" I had read about when the baby's head crowns in the birth canal.

Pushing was hard and it took me a while to figure out how to do it. The nurse, Rachel and Brandon were all very encouraging. Brandon held my right leg, while Rachel kept bringing cold wash cloths for my forehead.

Just before 1am, I remember the nurse hitting a button and saying "call for delivery." Inside, I wondered why she wanted the doctor there so soon because I felt like this process was gonna be a while. From what Brandon later told me, he was pretty sure the nurse had called prematurely too.

However, that's what makes her the professional. Within minutes, the doctor was there and with a series of three pushes, our baby girl's body came out all at once. Brandon was too stunned to announce the baby's sex. No one was saying anything about the baby and she was on my chest before I knew it. I kept looking at her to make sure it was a her.

She was not as bloody as I imagined, but more purple than pink. I was totally impressed with her hair and couldn't stop stroking it. Brandon cut the umbilical cord and someone asked if we had a name picked out. We both said "Maggie Louise" without hesitation.

Brandon and I had a feeling this baby was a girl and we settled on a girl's name much earlier than a boy's. We did change the middle name a few times. About two weeks before Maggie was born, Brandon suggested we use my mom's middle name as a way of honoring her memory. I loved the idea and put aside my reservations about how "old fashioned" the name sounded.

Childbirth was amazing. The process was tiring, harder than I imagined, and life-giving (literally!) all at once. I was thankful I'm as stubborn as I am, to know that giving up was not an option. I just kept telling myself to focus on the moment at hand, whether it was a contraction to get through or a brief period of rest.

I was so grateful for my wonderful birth team. My husband was so encouraging and wonderful. Rachel was a natural doula, even though she's technically a doula in training. And our nurse was awesome. I was so thankful no one pestered me about an epidural and I was able to have an unmedicated birth, as I'd hoped.


  1. WOW! Good for you with the natural childbirth! My 3 were natural, too, but their labors were 3 hours, 3 hours, and 2 hours. I'm always so impressed when people with longer labors manage to do it all drug free!

    But, either way, we end up with babies, and that's the best part :)

  2. So happy for you!! Your labor story sounds perfect!! Glad you were able to meet your goal! I remember thinking that God created my body to do this and I knew I could handle the pain. So glad you could too, it's a wonderful feeling and accomplishment!!

  3. What a wonderful birth story of Maggie Louise! Thanks for sharing :)

  4. Great job, mama! You did it!! And isn't it amazing how great you feel right afterwards? No side effects to deal with from drugs or other interventions. Good for you!

  5. wow this is an AMAZING birth story, beth!! seriously. this is EXACTLY what i want mine to be like.... can you tell me about the pain? how did you handle it best? what worked best for you? (feel free to email me if you don't wanna publicly post...) did you have any tearing? (tmi?) hahaha i'm just so curious! i've been reading a TON of birth stories lately!!


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