Baby Sandee is here! I’m about to share very intimate pictures and my story in full detail with you all. Please know that this is very important and special to me. I’m sharing my story because I shared my pregnancy with you. The birth story makes full circle, and I hope it will inspire you, or assist you in making the right decision for YOU, or simply to empower you (or someone you may know) to know you CAN in fact do this. Most births are uncomplicated, and I was lucky enough to be one of them.
First of all, I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart for all your love and support via my social media channels, especially the Snapchat family who have overwhelmed me with love since I went into labor 2 weeks ago. I’m so excited to share this with you: the most intense and amazing 18 hours of my life.
I want to praise my wonderful husband, also my birth coach, certified via the Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth in preparation for this very moment! He has really transformed himself into super dad! We were excited once labor started. I did get inpatient at times, but was never scared; only because I knew exactly what was happening every step of the way, so let’s get this show on the road. We were at 41 weeks pregnant and so ready to meet Baby Sandee.
If you had a chance to read my previous post on how I ‘naturally induced labor’, you know I was in pre-labor for a full 24 hours before I went into actual labor. It’s almost like it wanted to be true labor, followed by a continuous annoyance all day. True labor started on Wednesday night, December 28th, 2016 and I knew it was the real deal right away.
My first contraction came exactly at 11:20pm, and I recognized it as being different than all Braxton-hicks combo contractions I had ever experienced previously. Everyone describes contractions as very strong period cramps, but I beg to differ. Perhaps my period cramps were never ‘that bad’ so with that, I just couldn’t relate.
Here is what it felt like: Deep lower abdominal and lower back pain accompanied by stabbing cervix pain, and yes, that is stabbing pain deep inside your vagina, but fear not…I knew this meant my cervix was dilating, and that is how you come to accept the discomfort. Yes, I say discomfort for lack of a better word. It really did hurt, so I’m not going to sugar coat it for you guys, you know I like to keep it real, but it’s the type of pain that has a purpose, and you know won’t last forever, so you endure it. The lower back and deep abdominal pain comes from the baby lowering itself down into the birth canal, so you know that’s unpleasant as well. Your body is meant to do this, or so you tell yourself, and take deep breaths between contractions. It’s nice to have someone reminding you of this. That person for me was my hubby.
My contractions started 18-20 minutes apart, and I knew I had to try to sleep in between them, after all, it was still pretty early in the night. I had Winecoach call the midwife on call at the birthing center around 2am to let her know we would likely be coming in that morning. This was happening!! The midwife picked up with a very sleepy voice (sorry to wake you Elizabeth!), and assured us we would probably be having her only later that afternoon/early evening. At that point in time I was convinced I would have the baby earlier, as the contractions continued to intensify, now around 10-12 minutes apart. I thought to myself, this is going faster than I thought!
Winecoach handled me well throughout the night, timing my contractions, at times waking me up so they wouldn’t abruptly awake me. He used all his tricks, back massage, belly massage, affirmations, imaginative suggestions, you name it. Back rubs helped the most when I was in bed. That night, we didn’t sleep but for 50 minutes when contractions let up a bit towards morning. They did return stronger, and shorter apart, lowering to about 6-8 minutes apart, and quite strong. I still had to pee all the time, so on a regular night it was already tough to sleep…on labor night I just knew it really wasn’t going to happen. The mucus plug aka bloody show that had “started” passing the night before, continued to be expelled, every time I went to the bathroom. I was starting to bleed a little more each time, and the pain got a little worse with each pee break.
Early morning when contractions were picking up, we tried the bathtub with warm water so I could relax and let this thing take it’s course until it was finally time to head to the birthing center. I really felt my cervix opening up with each contraction which was wild. I was a bit worried my water would break while in the bathtub but it helped me relax, so we stayed in there a while before returning to bed.
Around 9-10am contractions were 4-5 minutes apart, but they were lasting nearly 2 minutes, so I hardly had time to recover. I was getting serious now and I knew we were getting close. I told winecoach to call the midwife again. I could tell by the look in his face he knew things were getting real, and we probably should head to the hospital soon despite them telling us to only go when we were 2-3 minutes apart for 2-3 hours. I really tried to keep calm but things were getting intense. He called the birthing center and explained that I had been bleeding and the pain was quite intense, and despite contractions only being 4-5 minutes apart, they were lasting for so long it seemed like they were never quite stopping. By this time my mother and sister who were sleeping next door had woken up and noticed I was in labor. Funny, because my sister had massaged my ankles with Clary Sage essential oil just minutes before I went into labor, but I went into my bedroom without telling them. Throughout the night they had no idea and we wanted it that way. I can’t believe I managed to kept it quiet so we could stay calm, collected and focused.
The midwife said to go ahead and come to the birthing center. I thought I was moving faster than I actually was, but contractions are no joke. You really have to stop every step of the way. At this point, I was calculating how long it would take me to get down the stairs and if I could do it in between contractions. It felt better to labor on the toilet for some reason, but not really. It seemed there was no good place to “labor” and deep abdominal breathing was the only thing I could do to try to keep things under control and let my body do the work it needed to do to get this baby out. Granted, it is difficult to realize all this when you’re going through it, but at some point, in the madness of and elation of labor somehow you find a voice within yourself or a point on the wall that you focus on, and think, one more breath closer to meeting my baby. And you move along….it was like this at home and once I got to the birthting center. Don’t miss out on the tour I shared by clicking here so you can see exactly where I gave birth.
Speaking of which, finally, after being able to get dressed in between contractions, off we went to the hospital. The car ride was 20 minutes long, and I kept my eyes closed along the way. The day was pleasant for a winter morning: sunny and in the high 50’s. I wore very loose clothes and was as comfortable as possible, which was not at all. I’m thankful my family stayed quiet during the car ride , because it wasn’t easy for me. Every mile felt like 10, and every curve was nearly unbearable. I closed my eyes harder, while trying to relax but really, I just couldn’t wait to get there already. I was hoping to walk in to the hospital and march my “prepared” little butt to the birthing center, but the medical assistant was already waiting for us with a wheelchair. God was I so happy to see that wheelchair. Please, get me to the birthing suite, I thought.
As usual, the ladies in the birthing center were wonderful and welcoming. My fantastic midwife Elizabeth was waiting for me so we could get the dreaded cervix check out of the way, which guess what? This time it didn’t hurt AT ALL. I was already 6 cm dilated, which apparently is the perfect time to arrive at the hospital/birthing center. What I love about the birthing center is that you don’t have to be hooked up to monitors, IV, nothing. They check your blood pressure, baby’s heart rate periodically (I’d say about every 15 minutes), and if everything is good, and we just carry on.
I heard: “Your room is ready for you”.
“Alright, I’m dilated! Let’s get this started!” I imagine my face wasn’t the friendliest, but I did walk to the birthing suite from the main clinic.
Off we went to the Summer birthing suite, apparently the one I had chosen. I didn’t even remember anymore, or cared. The truth is all the birthing suites are beautiful, so it didn’t really matter, but the Summer room is beautiful and most private all the way in the back. The lights were dimmed and the atmosphere was perfect. I saw the bathtub was filled and the lights directly above it were on a bright green fluorescent color. I later used that as my main focus to keep my mind off the pain.
It was suggested I go in to the shower right away. Winecoach got in there with me (in his trunks. Yes people, have your hubby bring his swimsuit with him if you’d like this intervention) and was massaging my back when I needed him to. I was hanging on him half the time. As I write this I realize how much of a trooper he was. I was doing hard work but he was supporting me every step of the way. I maybe stayed in there 30-40 minutes? Something like that. Elizabeth suggested we try the bed for a while.
The pain was getting really out of hand by then, or so I thought. I believe this is the time I was going through transition, or the most difficult part of labor where a big part of dilation occurs. This is often the part where women ask for a more serious intervention, such as an epidural or even a C-section. It can be the ‘darkest’ part of labor and it was the most difficult for me. I asked for nitrous.
I knew I didn’t want an epidural because there was no way of getting one at the birthing center, so that was never an option for me, but I can totally understand why women ask for it now. One would need to move to the maternity ward for such an intervention at this hospital, and I was set on having the most natural birth possible, still, so I had to hang in there. I never had experienced nitrous oxide before either, but had heard from people that it helped them not care about the pain when they got dental interventions. I was really wanting some type of relief, so I asked for it. It felt like it took at least an hour to get the darn nitrous since the time I requested it, and it was administered via a non-rebreather mask much like oxygen, and I’m sad to report it did NOTHING for me.
I felt like I had the mask on for another hour until I gave up. I felt the pain of every contraction even more intense now. Could this be making it worse? Had time stopped? I was praying for it to be over soon. Lying there on my back and so uncomfortable reminded me of work, when all the patients that came into my physical therapy clinic stating they have 10/10 pain but literally walked into my clinic after driving themselves. I couldn’t even hold a conversation and wanted to cry. I figured this was as close to a 10 as I every got! Every wave of pain was pretty crippling, but again, didn’t last forever and I lived to tell the story. So let’s not dwell.
The midwife suggested we move to the bathtub. I remembered it felt quite nice at home, earlier that morning so I agreed this would be nice and it was. Plus I had to do something because I knew it would be too difficult to stay in that position. Lying in bed was just getting unbearable.
The tub was a nice change. Just what I needed. Elizabeth checked me again, I was at 9cm dilated. Wow. That seemed promising. Now I understood why I was hurting so bad. Something was really happening! Elizabeth had very reassuring words to me and I remember sniffing a calming essental oil. Was it lavender or peppermint? I’m not sure, but it was nice. She kept saying, listen to your body, your baby is perfect, you’ll meet her soon. I could hear the baby’s heart rate through constant monitoring, every 15-20 minutes. It was reassuring.
The discomfort was great, but the mobility in the warm water was the best place to labor in. I could go from one side to the other, hold on to the grab bars, and try to keep my cool. I could actually hold short conversations now in between Contractions. Look at Winecoach’ sweet face, drink my ice cold water, and suck on honey sticks my sister was constantly offering and I was constantly refusing previously. I needed energy but I didn’t feel like I was running out of gas yet. Just an internal battle with myself to keep going. Another fetal heartbeat check, temperature and blood pressure check for me .This didn’t annoy me because each time I was reassured baby was happy and her heart rate was fine.
THE TURNING POINT for me was when the midwife told me to reach down and feel the baby’s head in the bag and it didn’t even sound weird to me. I freaking love midwives.
I was in the water so it felt natural. I placed my finger in there and hit what felt like her head, because it was!! I did feel the bag of waters very distinctly! What a wild sensation. Elizabeth’s words were so empowering: “This is all you, you listen to your body and you’ll meet her soon. Take deep breaths and push when you want to. Do whatever your body is telling you to do, you know best.” And she was right.
It was like a light bulb when off in my head. I was in that bathtub for what felt like another hour and a half…something like that, and having the urge to push some, and I did just that more than a few times. It’s like I could feel her moving along but not quite ready to come yet. I asked for another check. We were at 9.5 cm dilated. So very close to the necessary 10cm. Just a little longer…Winecoach thought I hit the natural alignment plateau and at the time I agreed. Looking back I don’t think so. I think it took exactly the necessary amount of time that was needed to get her here.
Elizabeth suggested I try squatting which is all I wanted to do my whole pregnancy. Squatting opens up the pelvis 10-15% more when it’s time to push, so it seems like the optimal position to push right? Well, I didn’t feel that way at the time. I literally felt like my “butt was going to fall off”, or so I kept saying that. This is something else you may not hear alot, but there so much pressure in your rectum that it literally feels like it’s going to fall off every time you push! TMI? Maybe, but this is what it felt like to me. I leaned over the sink and was bearing down trying to push her further in the squatting position, but it was just too uncomfortable back there. It’s funny now, but not at the time! Elizabeth reassured me it wasn’t going to fall off but I wasn’t convinced, so she suggested I go back to bed and rest.
Rest sounded like a good idea at the time, and it did feel like contractions were giving me a break now. Either that or I could just tolerate them much better in the water and it had calmed them down for a bit, but now, contractions came with an urge to push, so I knew it was getting closer and closer.
I walked back to bed and laid down on my left side. Elizabeth placed a big peanut exercise ball between my legs and covered me nice and warm. The lights were turned even dimmer and I tried to rest a little. Winecoach was right next to me just being him, which is all I needed. I was getting annoyed by people’s voices and didn’t really want to talk. Contractions were strong, so strong. I placed my finger in the birth canal one more time and noticed she was at least 50% closer than when I had checked in the bath tub. I measured my finger, not very objectively but it worked for me. When I was in the tub I felt my middle finger entered about half way to reach her head, and now it was just the very tip. Was I really this close? YES.
It was just hubby and I in the room at this point while I was “resting”. I felt the urge to push with everything I had with these contractions now, so I had him hold my right leg and went for it. Later my mom and sister walked in to check on me and noticed they saw something. Could the baby be crowning? I checked again with my fingers and felt her closer, really the top off her head was right there! Baby Sandee was coming.
GET THE MIDWIFE, I barked at my sister.
At this point my mom jumped in to help winecoach with my right leg. I really was pushing with everything I had so my mom pushed against my right foot to assist. Elizabeth came right away, like an angel through the door. NOW, it was showtime. She continued to empower me and I pushed harder and stronger each time. I felt baby’s head coming like a ball of fire. I heard Elizabeth saying, “look down and feel your baby, she’s in the bag of waters!”.
I looked underneath my right leg (remember, I was lying on my left side facing winecoach, so we both had to peek through my right leg to see her head coming, still covered by the bag of waters which never did rupture. I just realized my water never broke. What!? How! My baby was coming inside the bag of waters which only happens to like, 2-3% of all births. Wow. But not to steer away from what I was feeling, now I know why they call it a “ring of fire” which is precisely crowing, and it’s a very distinctive burning sensation. It’s really difficult to describe what it feels like to have a head hanging out of your vagina, but really, IT JUST BURNS like a round ring which is the circumference of the opening around he baby’s head/neck.
“It’s so HOT! It burns!” is all I could say. Over and over again.
I now remembered all the videos I watched at the Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth classes where I heard ALL the women say “Just get it out!”, and could definitely relate. I felt Elizabeth pouring some cooling water/gel-like liquid (could it be chilled lubricant?) which helped some until the next contraction so I could keep pushing through. It was quite uncomfortable having her head sticking out of me and I just couldn’t wait to push the rest of her out! I always heard that once you get the shoulders out you’re home free, so I was anxiously waiting to get there!
I pushed for what felt like hours, but really I think it was less than one hour. As a matter of fact, once baby dropped into my birth canal it was around 30 minutes of pushing till we met her. I had a moist towel and was holding by butt because I was still convinced it was going to fall out. I did that myself, the whole time I was pushing. It’s all a blur, but this story is a good approximation of what happened. All I know is that each time I pushed, it was with more might. I knew she was coming and could feel her moving down. At some point things happened so quickly, and I had to get one last push in there even before my next contraction. I wanted her OUT!
Elizabeth cut the bag of waters and I pushed harder with the next one, and Alexandra Maria came; I did feel a little more burning, could it have been a little tear? It didn’t matter….she came out and right into my arms at 5:56 pm that December 29th 2016. The placenta was delivered immediately after she came, and winecoach did the honor of clamping and cutting her umbilical cord.
She never did cry too much but did sneeze…twice. That was the most amazing sensation of our lives! One because I was no longer in pain and the other because I finally got to meet my baby! Tears of joy as I looked at her, looked at him, looked at her, at my mom, my sister. What a moment of pure joy. I held her in my arms, she had these big bright eyes and was very much awake. I couldn’t believe we made her, she grew so big in my belly! I did this?! Wow…Our bodies are amazing. I couldn’t believe I had just pushed her out. What a process, what an amazing process. I was elated, so much happiness and I felt like a million bucks!
We bonded for 1-2 hours uninterrupted. All they did was literally use that snot sucker to get any “gunk” out of her and checked her lungs which had a bit of fluid, completely normal and cleared up shortly thereafter, especially for a baby born in the bag of waters. We just looked at her, trying to figure out who she looked like, her ways, everything about this little human that was finally out. HAPPY BIRTHDAY ALEXANDRA!
I tried breast feeding her but she wasn’t latching. She didn’t act hungry and preferred looking at us, interacting. The nurse said this was normal, and because she was in the bag of waters she probably had residual fluid in her little stomach so wasn’t hungry yet. You can tell she enjoyed being close to the boob though.
I told daddy to take off his shirt. “Hold her against you, skin to skin”. We bonded. We were a family now, our very own little family. It was the most beautiful day of our lives, and I just can’t believe she’s 2.5 weeks old now.
HOW I FELT. Immediately after.
Physically, After she was born it’s like I went back to feeling like myself immediately. Better yet, I felt like super woman, really! I could do anything! I felt powerful! I realized I was hungry. So hungry. The last time I ate was at 2 or 3 am earlier that morning. It been in way too much pain to eat after that! Those honey sticks my sister made me suck on and all the water I was drinking saved me. I also realized I hadn’t peed in a very long time because the baby was compressing my bladder for the majority of the time I was in the birthing center.
As we were bonding as a family, my super midwife was checking on my downstairs which apparently was in need of 3 internal stitches close to my urethra, and that was the extend of the ‘damage’. I was sore, but otherwise, felt pretty good, and she did what she had to do which I barely felt at that point. The fundus massages every 30 minutes-1 hour I could have done without, but is extremely necessary. That’s when the nice nurse comes and pushes on your uterus so you can expel more afterbirth that needs to come out, sporadically but is really uncomfortable. Anyway, I had just delivered a baby naturally. This was nothing! Bring it on nurse.
The same nurse brought up a good point: she walked in with some menus and asked us if we wanted to order some food, because the kitchen closed at 7 pm, so we hurried up and did that! I was starving! We got plenty of orange juice, as per the Bradley Method way of celebrating a natural birth, the couple always cheers with OJ, and so we did! When the food came, we went to eat and Alexandra was taken to get measured right in the room with us!
Alexandra was 20.5 inches long (52cm) and 8 pounds, 11 ounces (3.95 kilos). I call it my overcooked to perfection baby as she came exactly at 41 weeks, at the turn of the new moon, as my grandmother in Brazil had predicted. I’m not a big believer in the moon stuff, but that’s the way it happened.
Because I birthed naturally in the birthing center, we had the option of going home 4-6 hours after the birth, and bringing the baby back the next day for testing, but since we had not taken the early discharge class, we weren’t eligible. Our second option was to stay at least 24 hours in the hospital, meaning we had to move to the maternity ward for the night (most people stay at least 48 hours) so she could get her tests done in the morning and at exactly 24 hours of birth before discharge, so that’s what we did.
Winecoach and I spent the night watching her and learning from the nurses, our first night as a family. We’re talking breastfeeding (which is very hard!), diapers, swaddling, burping, all stuff we didn’t know. Finally, on December 30th, we were discharged at 7pm and went home!
Thank you for reading our birth story! I hope it inspired you to consider having a natural childbirth one day! It is tough, but so rewarding. I wanted to make sure I shared this with you guys before I forget the details. Apparently everyone forgets what labor pains are really like, which is why people do this multiple times! Now, I’ll never forget, but I would do it ALL over again…for her.
Please share your birth stories below! I would LOVE to hear them plus any feedback. I hope you’re inspired!
I want to reiterate that all information found on this blog post reflects my own experiences and opinions. Please visit with your doctor or midwife regarding any of the interventions described here to ensure your safety and the safety of your baby! Thank you for stopping by, I hope you benefit from this blog post. Please share your story with me below! Also leave your comments and questions below as I’d love to know about your own experiences and what worked for you! Don’t forget to follow @ColorfulPregnancy on Instagram for my nutrition tips during pregnancy!
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