Samuel Pearson Rodgers arrived on Saturday, June 18, 2011 at 9:16 a.m. It was the most beautiful thing in the world!
I labored all day Friday at home with consistent contractions. I had a feeling that his birth was imminent. I was anxious and emotional. Fortunately I had a friend stop by in the morning with her daughter, who played with our girls while we visited. Brian came home a little early from work, and then my friend Jessica came over to help me time contractions and focus on the process. I still wasn't sure that this was "it", so I didn't want to announce to the world that I was in labor. We had a neighbor come to the house for the evening so Brian and I could be together and focus on the hours ahead. Brian and Jessica and I went for a walk, then came back and sat in the yard for awhile. I sat on the birthing ball for awhile and on a blanket in the grass for awhile. Neighbors came by and offered their encouragement. :) We have the best neighbors in the WORLD!! :)
Around 8 p.m., we headed to the hospital because I was really curious if I was making any actual progress with all these contractions. We got into a room around 9 p.m., and the nurse told me I was around 4.5 cm dilated. Not nearly as much progress as I was hoping for. Dr. Kakani suggested over the phone that we walk around and do natural things to speed things along for a few hours and see if it helped. The nurse brought me a birthing ball and breast pump. For the next two hours, Brian and I walked all over the hospital, I bounced on the ball, and I pumped. Nipple stimulation is one great labor inducer! I could tell each time I pumped my contractions got stronger. Still, two hours later at 11:15 p.m., I was only another cm dilated- 5.5 cm. I had effaced from 60% to 75%. This felt like such slow progress to me! I thought, how could I be laboring this long with my fifth child?!?! I began to doubt if my body could really do this without intervention, since I’d had pitocin with the previous four. Brian and I prayed and decided to stay the night at the hospital to rest.
Around 5 a.m., Dr. Kakani came into the room. We discussed my labor and she assured me that I was just on the verge of active labor, which she felt would go quickly. She and the nurses were SO supportive of my desire for a natural labor. They were amazing! I had heard that they wouldn’t “allow” a woman to labor in LDR for more than 12 hours, but that just wasn’t true. They were in no hurry and were very helpful in getting me to achieve my goal of a natural labor. I didn’t even have to have an IV until after the birth! I received a hep-lock just so there was a line to my veins in case there was an emergency, but there were absolutely no drugs or fluids or anything running through it. She did recommend rupturing my membranes, so around 5:30 a.m. she did. Almost immediately my body kicked into very active labor! The next contraction came quickly and was stronger than before. I labored through a few contractions facing backwards on the toilet, with Brian rubbing my back. I labored through a few laying on the couch with my head in his lap. I labored through a few contractions standing, holding onto a sturdy chair or Brian. I labored some on the birthing ball. Some caught me completely off guard and it seems that when in doubt, I hit my hands and knees and just breathed. Either way I had to stop talking or doing anything else and just concentrate. At some point I must have decided to take my clothes off because I realized I was naked through most of this. The nurses didn’t care. They didn’t push me to wear the ugly hospital gown. Around 7 a.m. my wonderful amazing friend Jessica arrived :) and started coaching me through each contraction. She and Brian were amazing. I finally found a “sweet spot” when I hit transition around 8 a.m. I had the head of the bed all the way in the upright position so I could turn around backwards in the bed and face it, with my arms draped over the top of the bed. I grabbed the sides of the bed tightly and breathed through each contraction. I literally couldn’t talk or I would lose the contraction. They were coming so hard and so fast, one right on top of the other, that I really couldn’t even open my eyes. I have no idea who was in the room or what anyone else was saying. I do know that Brian and Jessica were both just completely focused on me. I didn’t really want to be touched, which they respected, but I did need words of affirmation, which they kept coming. They reassured me that I was doing great and that the baby would be here soon. Sometimes Brian fed me ice chips. As good as they tasted, they usually made me lose my focus too much. I can’t describe how mental this part of labor was. And how important the breathing really was! If I got out of rhythm with my breath for even a millisecond, I lost the contraction and felt completely out of control and out of breath. I was in a zone where I was only slightly aware of anything other than my body. It was intense. I felt like my hip bones were being yanked apart. Every once in awhile I HAD to say “It hurts” in barely a whisper, but that was all I could do. I was playing the labor playlist on this blog :), and about this time I heard two songs- “The Scientist” by Coldplay, which says, “Nobody said it was easy”, and “Every little thing is gonna be alright” by Bob Marley. They were actually very good things to hear at the time. :) I have no idea what time, but after awhile I started feeling the pressure down low that let me know the baby was about to be born. It wasn’t really the urge to push yet, it was just that pressure they talk about feeling. In the next contraction or two I also started feeling the “ring of fire” that let me know his head was ready to emerge. I was still on my knees, facing the back of the bed, as the nurses were laying things out for him to be born. They would have actually allowed me to push like this, which I debated doing in my head, but I was feeling quite overwhelmed at this point and decided to go with the position I had used before for birth. I turned around and Brian said, “There’s his head! I can see him Julie! He’s right there!” Apparently Dr. Kakani was in the middle of a surgery down the hall, so there were about 5 nurses all gathered around in case she didn’t arrive in time. One nurse said, “Okay, you can push whenever you’re ready!” I grabbed Brian and Jessica as hard as I could and SCREAMED this otherworldly scream as I pushed his head out. They asked if I wanted to see his head, but all I wanted to do was push the rest of him out and be done! So I grabbed the bedrails this time and SCREAMED at the top of my lungs and pushed the rest of him out. I opened my eyes and saw Dr. Kakani handing him to me. Honestly I was still so in shock, physically and emotionally, that I held him close for the first few minutes without really even looking at him. I was just trying to get my breath back and realize what had just happened. At this point it all seemed to have happened so fast and been such a blur! It was surreal. I don’t think I believed he was actually here for the first moments. I have no idea how long his umbilical cord pulsed, or how long it took me to deliver the placenta. They allowed me to try and nurse him to naturally contract it out, but he wasn’t interested in nursing just yet. I handed him to Brian and gave a little push, and when it came out it felt like a river flowed out of my body. Brian handed him right back to me, at which point I relaxed and actually started loving on my baby. :) He was so content and quiet right there on my chest! The nurses started congratulating me, Brian started rubbing the vernix off of Sam, and it started feeling real. What a feeling to finally have my son in my arms! It was still so surreal! So unbelievable!
The nurses did everything they needed to do while I was holding Sam. They didn’t even rush us to get his weight or give him a bath, but I was curious to see what he weighed. :) When they said that he weighed 7 lbs 12 oz, I was blown away. That was my biggest baby by almost a pound! I studied him more while Brian and the nurse gave him a bath right there in the room beside my bed, and realized he was so big and strong and healthy looking! It hit me that God had answered all my prayers for Sam- he was full term, he weighed at least 7 pounds, he was strong and healthy, and I birthed him naturally. Wow. What a good God! I was overwhelmed with emotion.
The nurses wrapped Sam up tightly and instructed me to keep him close and warm while his body temperature regulated. He latched right on and started sucking immediately this time! He was hungry! They gave me some fluids through the IV and some pain medicine that helped me relax and just enjoy him. This was when the “birth high” came. Jessica and I chatted about everything under the sun and I felt on top of the world with my son in my arms. Brian went to get Sam’s older sisters so they could meet him. My mom and Brian’s parents came by to meet their grandson. Shortly after they left, Brian and the girls arrived. It was so good to see my sweet daughters and watch their reaction to baby brother!
The hours after were just so sweet. I couldn’t stop staring at my sweet baby boy, and kissing his daddy. :) The birth high lasted a long time! Since I didn’t have an epidural or episiotomy or any tearing, I was able to take a shower while still in LDR, and walk around normally once in our room.
Would I choose a natural birth again? ABSOLUTELY. Yes, it was painful. It was overwhelming. There were times when I questioned my sanity and wondered why I didn’t just choose the standard epidural route that I was comfortable with. But I am SO GLAD I went natural. It was a completely different experience, one that I felt an active participant in instead of just a patient in a bed, waiting to be told when to push. My body knew what to do on its own. Brian was also an active, supportive participant instead of just watching me lay on the bed and waiting to see the baby come out. I think it was a great bonding experience for us. It was also good bonding for Sam and me, since I wasn’t groggy and strapped to a bed for several hours afterwards. We were able to actively engage each other and do what we needed to do. I would most definitely recommend it to anyone even considering a natural birth. If I can do it, any woman can do it! I love the fact that I made that choice and stuck with it. I would 100% absolutely have someone like Jessica there with you, someone who has been through natural birth and knows how to help a woman through it. The doctors and nurses can only be so helpful. It was so beautiful to be surrounded by my husband and close friend who were completely supportive. It’s also such a great confidence booster. I feel like if I can do that, I can do just about anything! I’m a rock star! :)