Z's Birth Story

I know writing out the details of your labor and delivery isn't something everyone does, but there were a few reasons I wanted to on our blog. 

1. I was not super familiar with what a natural (unmedicated) birth really would look like before having Z, so I thought I'd share my experience with others who may be considering it (or just curious). 

2. I hold in high regard writing down memories, even (and maybe especially) tough ones. Z's birth was definitely an experience that I will want to remember as many details as possible. It's crazy how fast I've already forgotten a ton of little things. Granted I was in a haze of adrenalin for a good part of the labor, either way I had to double-check my story with my husband and my mom. They were both there as well and reminded me of a thousand little things I forgot. 

So, if you're interested, read on. No worries, I did edit it down quite a bit and I value privacy too much to give the nitty gritty. :) 

Wednesday (6/13) morning I woke up around 5.30, to my surprise I was having contractions about 15-20 minutes apart. This would be considered very early labor, especially for a first time mom, and at this point you're encouraged to rest or try and go back to sleep. It sounds crazy but these early contractions aren't that bad at all. I was totally able to fall asleep in between them. They lasted about two hours and Kyle and I were getting excited, but then they faded. I thought, "All right - first round of false labor is out of the way, maybe he'll come by this weekend." (Note: If you've heard of "Braxton Hicks" contractions - there's a bit of difference between those and false labor. Braxton Hicks contractions usually don't hurt and they don't happen consistently.) 

Wednesday night rolled around and at 6pm I started having contractions again. Same deal, about 15-20 minutes a part. I didn't get too hyped up because I thought it was probably another round of false labor. 

We had some friends come over around 8pm to watch a movie. By this point my contractions actually started spacing out even more and were very inconsistent. Like 25 minutes a part, then11 minutes a part, then 20, etc. I laid on my side and drank tons of water and just tried to see what would happen. (The doctor usually tells you that if you start having contractions to lay down and drink water with the thought that they'll go away if this isn't the real deal.) 

At first the contractions were pretty easy to talk through and honestly I was feeling pretty chipper. I was totally laughing and thinking, "Man! This labor thing is pretty easy." (NOTE: What I should have been doing was trying to sleep! And using the bathroom every time I got the chance, as a full bladder makes contractions only hurt worse.) Well, from 9 to 10pm the contractions began to pick up the pace. That's when we decided to call immediate family and tell them, "Yes - if you want to be here then you should start driving in." 

Husband had been timing my contractions and was super encouraging. He was so excited and kept my water glass full.  10pm rolls around and they're about 9 minutes a part and quickly picking up in intensity. Our friends left and this is where I lost all sense of time. I'm afraid after this the only thing I know for sure is what time it was when Z finally appeared. 

I also noticed that the pain was flaring up my back. I immediately thought, "I'm totally having back labor." And was really discouraged. I also was getting very sleepy but my contractions were starting to come too close to really get any sleep between them. "Back labor" happens when the baby is facing the wrong way. Usually they're head down, bottom up, with their face pointing at your back. Z, we think, had his face pointing toward my stomach. This can make labor more painful. I would try and explain why but it would take too much space - needless to say it makes labor more difficult than it needs to be. 

For parents wanting an unmedicated birth, they encourage you to labor at home as long as possible. When we asked our doctor when we should come in, she actually told us to come in when the drive to the hospital sounded like the LAST thing I wanted to do. So that's what we did. There's a ton of different methods to relieve the pain of contractions that don't involve medication that we employed. We took the Bradley Class so we chose relaxation (focusing on relaxing all the other muscles in your body so that contractions are less painful and more efficient) and pressure point massage (this is where Husband came in, he would press and hold on my lower back whenever a contraction hit and it did a lot to relieve the pain). 

At this point Husband had packed our car and gotten things ready. I noticed he looked pretty tired and vaguely thought, "We haven't been at this that long and he looks kind of sleepy." We heard our family was almost in town (my first clue that labor was passing by way quicker than I thought, because our closest family lives two and a half hours away.) 

This must have been around 1.00-1.30am and my contractions were around 5-7 minutes apart. The pain was getting pretty gnarly and at first I wasn't doing a great job of relaxing. I noticed that every third contraction would be particularly brutal and then the two in between wouldn't be so bad. 

I told Husband I wanted to go to the hospital at this point. The thought of having to get in a car and drive to the hospital  made me want to bawl, the thought crossed my mind that we could just stay still and have the baby at our house that way I wouldn't have to drive anywhere. I took this as a good cue that it was time to leave. 

I rode to the hospital with my knees on the front seat and my hands around Husband's shoulders. We got there and after a parking hiccup had to walk around to the emergency entrance. I had just told him that walking was the last thing I wanted to do but it helped a ton! My contractions were way less intense up and walking then when I was still. 

We started the initial checks and I was shocked to see that it was already 2am. They checked Z's heart rate and he was doing great! They checked to see how far I had progressed and we were bummed to find out that I was a little less than halfway there. I thought surely I was farther a long, but I also knew first time moms tend to have longer labors. The nurse actually told me I could go home at this point, especially because Husband and I did not want any interventions. 

The thought of driving BACK home and needing to return was out of the question. We also felt that even though I wasn't technically in active labor, my contractions were too close and too strong to leave. Not going to lie, I was already thinking, "An epidural would be SO NICE." I just wanted to go to sleep between the contractions but couldn't. Kyle was really sweet and encouraging, and convinced me to hold out until they checked me again. 

I think it may have been around 3.30 that they checked me and I had progressed quite a bit! I was now over the halfway mark. This was what I needed to decide to wait a little longer. 

Then I hit transition. Transition is often described as the worst part of labor. Some women have horror stories of being in transition for several hours, some only 10 minutes, and some don't have it at all. It's basically when the baby is making his "final descent," if you will. The contractions are at their peak and you don't get much of a break in between them. They can literally feel like they're rolling right on top of the other. 

I didn't think I was in transition because I felt it was too soon, but Husband kept insisting that I was (and he was right.) He pointed out that I yelled at him, I was feeling nauseous, and I was BEGGING him for an epidural. He was there with me the whole time though, encouraging me that I could do it. I will say his best tactic was telling me to just wait until they checked me one more time.They came in and checked me maybe an hour and fifteen minutes later and I had progressed even more quickly and we were almost there! However, my water still hadn't broke at this point and I needed to progress a liiiitttle bit more before they felt comfortable with me pushing. 

I guess this was around 5am. After this my progression slowed a ton because my body stalled out a little bit. It's common in many labors for there to be a time that things kind of slow down (or stop for awhile) but I'm not positive if it happens a ton that late in the game. 

The next two hours were hard because my doctor couldn't come see how I was doing (she was tied up with another birth) and my contractions were about 2-3 minutes a part. Now, I don't know if they'd have even given me an epidural at this point (there is a "point of no return," I believe it's when they think you're within two hours of having the baby that they won't give you an epidural) but I was BEGGING for an epidural. A family member who was part of the birth (and has had a few of her own) told me that if I asked for one it would probably be close to an hour before they were even giving it to me. I double-checked with the nurse and sure enough, she said it would take half an hour for the anesthesiologist to get there and another half hour to process everything. Though not what I wanted to hear, it kept me from getting one. Especially because I was so far along that I could literally have this kid at any second. 

My doctor came in to see how I was doing. It was around 6am and I was DONE with this labor business. My body still wasn't progressing. Which was unbelievably frustrating because it had gotten to the point where we were almost there and then stalled out.

The other thing that kept me from asking for an intervention was the day nurse. They switched over at some point during this craziness and this women was a saint. She use to be a doula and was extremely familiar with the Bradley methods. One of the first things she asked me when she walked in was, "When was the last time you used the bathroom?" and of course it had been hours. 

I went to the bathroom and, wouldn't you know it I felt way better. Shortly after I was able to begin pushing. This phase of labor can be over with pretty quickly, or in my case can take awhile. My sister-in-law's description of the pushing stage is probably my favorite that I've heard, "I'm not going to lie to you and tell you it doesn't hurt. It hits you like a train, but then it's over." TRUTH.

Our theory is that Z was flipped the wrong way (as I explained before) and tried to shift into the correct position on his way out, only to get his poor head stuck. It's not his fault as both his parents have uniquely large heads. It's true. So my pushing stage, I believe, lasted waaaay longer than the average.

I wound up pushing for the next two hours and progressed very slowly. Such a crazy feeling! It was a huge relief though because now I finally didn't want an epidural anymore. I had a way to channel all of the discomfort and relieve it for just a few minutes, at least. Finally at 9am, after trying every labor position in the book, I was exhausted and getting dehydrated. (About the different labor positions, a nice thing about not getting an epidural is that you're allowed to move around and can try different positions to push in besides the most common one you see - back elevated, legs up). 

I asked if there was anything we could do to help the baby along and the doctor suggested using the vacuum. Up until this point Z's heart rate was doing marvelously but it began to drop just a bit in the last half hour. We asked her what the risks and benefits would be - something they coach you to do in the Bradley Class so that you can make informed decisions during labor. I asked (in between these crazy contractions and the pushing) if my husband and I could discuss it and our doctor stepped out for a bit. It took us like two seconds to decide to go for it as the risks didn't cause any misgivings and both of us were exhausted. 

They brought in the vacuum and at 9:34am he came out in one push! It was such a crazy experience and it went by so quickly. You'd never think 15 1/2 hours could seem so short a time. 

If my husband wouldn't have been there I really don't know what I would have done. There were so many moments that I thought I was going to be laboring forever. That this was now my life, lol. But he was so sweet and encouraging and held my hand the whole time. And I only yelled at him once! :D (And then I apparently apologized right afterwards.) It was an amazing experience for us to go through together. I think one of my favorite moments was when I was in transition and he looked at me and said, "We don't need to have anymore children after this, okay? You're doing amazing and we never have to do this again." Ha!

As I said in my last post, many people have asked me if I'd do the unmedicated thing again, I'm still undecided. I'm not going to lie about how painful it was. It was easily the most painful thing I've ever endured; however, even though we seriously doubted if Z would have any siblings, I don't know if I would trade the experience for anything. I really loved being able to know what it felt like to bring my son into the world, both the pain and the joy of it. 

What I do know is that our son is beautiful and he's here and healthy. For that I am extremely grateful and realizing more and more each day that I have far less control over his precious life than one would think. This is a very humbling realization and it has already caused me to fall before Jesus many times. All that is for another post, though, I'm hoping to write about the postpartum experience, because let me tell you the lack of sleep combined with the hormone fall out is no joke. 

If you have any questions about natural birth I'd love to answer them as much as I can! :) 


  1. I feel so encouraged! Thanks for sharing:)

  2. I just love that you shared your labor story here!
    I wrote about Wyatt's, and it is so true that you forget all the little details! Congrats again and kudos to you on a natural birth!!!