Flynn is 9 weeks old and I’m finally sitting down to write this. Better late than never! I know you’re all just dying to know every detail… right?
Before I was pregnant, or married for that matter, I was fascinated by natural childbirth. I watched the documentary “The Business of Being Born” by Ricki Lake and was very turned off by the hospital birth process. It seemed so cold and strict. Not every woman is the same, not every birth is the same, but doctors expect everything to go the same way or there needs to be an intervention. (I’m sure a lot of this has to do with covering their butts from lawsuits, but that’s another issue altogether.) I’ve had bad experiences with doctors in the past and decided the typical route of a hospital birth with an OB was not for me. Plus, I figured if the cave women could do it… I could do it! Also, women in most European countries use midwives and have home births and they have less infant deaths than the U.S.
My mom (who had 3 natural births) always told me, “Just go to the Birth Center.” The Birth Center is a wonderful stand-alone facility in Bryn Mawr, PA located just steps from the Bryn Mawr Hospital, and they are affiliated if someone were to need an emergency transfer. All of their patients are cared for by CNM’s (certified nurse-midwives).
When I found out I was pregnant, I didn’t need to weigh my options. I already knew I wanted to give birth there. They only take a certain number of clients per month, and luckily I called early enough to get on the list. Tim and I went to their introductory seminar where we learned everything they do and don’t do. One of the big things they don’t do is offer pitocin to induce labor or epidurals. Fine by me! I wasn’t a fan of anything I read about either.
My pregnancy was ridiculously easy. Good genes? Good luck? Who knows, but it was a breeze. I kept running through month 6, then slowed down a bit and did yoga, walking & hand weights for the remaining months. I feel strongly that all of this exercise during my pregnancy gave me the birth outcome I wanted: a healthy baby & minimal recovery time.
Fast forward to Friday, November 4th, 2011. I started noticing something at work that afternoon. I was losing my mucus plug! Hooraaaay. This usually means labor is imminent. And yes, it’s as gross as it sounds.
3am on Saturday morning, I woke up with contractions… REAL ones. None of this Braxton Hicks nonsense. I knew without a doubt I was in labor. And for some reason, I was extremely calm and nonchalant about the whole thing. According to Tim, I woke him up around 5am and said, “Babyyyy, I’m in laborrrr.” I honestly don’t remember sounding that dumb, but whatever. He jerked out of bed with a panicked look on his face and I told him to relax because my contractions were around 8-10 minutes apart. It was going to be a while. A while meaning approximately 27 hours… mm hmm, you heard me. It’s not like in the movies, kids! Especially not the first time around.
I called The Birth Center at around 9am to talk to the midwife on call and explained what was going on. I lost my mucus plug, my contractions were 8 minutes apart, and I was pretty sure my water broke. It wasn’t one big gush, but multiple small ones… kinda like I peed my pants a few times. Lovely! She told us to sit tight and keep timing a few contractions here and there. We should call back when they were 4-5 minutes apart. She also told me some FANTASTIC news. The midwife coming on duty was my favorite one… Gazelle! Yes, like the horse. I think I fist pumped the air when I heard this. I had seen her multiple times for prenatal appointments and had complete confidence in her.
My mom came over, gave me a pedicure and cleaned the house. She must have been bored. Tim took Indy out for a long walk. And we waited. At around noon, my contractions were getting more intense and were consistently 5 minutes apart. I called Gazelle and through my heavy breathing, she could sense it was time for us to come on over. Worst. Car ride. Ever. Driving on bumpy under construction 202 while you’re having contractions is torture.
From around 1:30pm-8:30pm… I labored, and labored and labored. Now I know why they call it labor. Hard work, son! Tim and I walked circles around the parking lot, and walked the steps, and walked the hallway… and I basically never sat down. Sitting down hurt like a mother#%&@$! After all that walking, Gazelle checked me and I was 4 cm dilated. Yep, all that and only 4 cm! I was in for a long, uncomfortable night.
I got into the shower in my room and lay over a birthing ball (exercise ball) while Tim pointed the shower nozzle right on my lower back. Ahhh, a tiny bit of relief. After about a half hour of that and lots more excruciating contractions, Gazelle checked me again. 5 cm. Are you effing kidding me? Tim said the look I gave him was one of sheer terror. How much longer was this gonna take? Hurry up, Flynn!
After the shower, I pretty much realized I was going to be naked from then on. Honestly, you reach a certain point where you just don’t care anymore. I got into the whirlpool tub and very quickly went from 5 cm to 8 cm. And boyyy could I feel it. I went into my own little world of pain and couldn’t really hear or see anyone. It was pretty bizarre. Tim put my birth mix on the iPod… couldn’t even hear it. I apparently yelled at him a few times, too. Sorry, babe!
It was around midnight when my body started having the urge to push. So I’m in the tub… pushing. The midwife decides to just go with it, even though I wasn’t 10 cm yet. (That’s what I like about them. They let you follow your instincts.) I got out of the tub, suddenly re-energized. This was it! I was going to pop this baby out! Not so fast...
For the next 3 hours, I pushed and pushed and pushed in every position possible. There’s the head! Wait, where did it go? Now ya see it, now ya don’t. Flynn’s big old head was stuck. (And yes, Tim looked.) Finally, Gazelle broke the news to me that Flynn wasn’t going to be born at The Birth Center. His heart rate was up and down for too long and he needed to be born in a hospital setting for safety reasons. Vacuum? C-section? I was crushed. I wanted to give up. It was over. I was going to the hospital. I failed.
But how can you think you failed after this beautiful screaming baby comes out of your body? It’s impossible. With birth, there is no such thing as failure if the end result is the baby you carried for 40 weeks. You finally meet him, and forget everything that just happened.
5 am. I bucked up, put my clothes back on, jumped into my car with Tim and Gazelle. No ambulance, baby head literally between my legs. We drove the 5 second drive to the ER entrance, illegally parked, I got in a wheel chair and was admitted. Hospital gown on. Monitors on. IV in. They gave me pitocin through my IV. Really you guys, was that necessary? I’m 10 cm and pushing. The doctor was rude and short with Gazelle. I remember hearing her say something like “Another one? You’re wasting my time.” How about stop being a bitch and deliver my baby!
I amused the nurses with my cave woman-esque moans and grunts. I heard the word “episiotomy” and got scared. Gazelle reassured me that it was probably for the best. They gave me a local & told Tim not to look. Slice. Push. Wahhhh! Flynn was born. He came out screaming, peeing and with the cord around his neck. Tim didn’t get the chance to cut it, but I think he was too exhausted to care.
Instead of handing him directly to me as the Birth Center would have done, he was whisked across the room for an oxygen mask and cleaning. I could barely see him. That was the saddest moment. I kept asking when I could hold him, but all of the nurses were ignoring me. I barely even noticed Dr. Bitch between my legs stitching me up without anesthesia. All I wanted to do was hold my baby. After what seemed like forever (pretty sure it was only 15 minutes), they handed me this little bundle and Tim and I stared at him in awe. He nursed immediately, with Gazelle’s help, and that was that. I did it. We did it. Oh, where was Tim that whole time? Right by my side. But I could barely even remember him being there. It was an insane 27 hour whirlwind.
We were released 12 hours later. Not the typical hospital stay, but that’s when we would have been released at the Birth Center. I felt surprisingly great after being awake for 36 hours and couldn't wait to get out of the hospital and back home.
A week later, I was back in my skinny jeans and 25 pounds lighter, to which I credit breastfeeding, genetics, age and exercising throughout my pregnancy. I’m not trying to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight because frankly, it was a little unhealthy. I had lost weight due to stress before our wedding and was hardly eating anything. Whenever I have spare time and Flynn is big enough to sit in the jogging stroller, I’ll get back to exercising. But for right now, I’m enjoying every minute of just lounging around nursing and holding the little one. It’s going to go by so fast…
Would I give birth without drugs again? Absolutely. But I know now why pitocin & epidurals are so popular. Birth is long & painful! But pain doesn’t kill you. You get through it and you forget about it, which I almost have only 2 months later. What I liked about having a natural birth was this: I could feel everything. Is it weird that I WANTED to feel everything? I was so curious as to what it would be like! After giving birth, I feel like I can accomplish anything. The more people told me I was crazy and that I’d be “begging for drugs”… the more it motivated me to have a natural birth. So, thanks haters ;-)
Flynn Ryan Annan
Born 11/6/2011 at 5:30 am
7 lbs, 3 oz. 19” long