Birth Story: Daniel Lee

{first baby, home birth}

This is the birth story of Daniel Lee, born in July 2012, as written by his mom just days after his home birth. I was honored to be the doula present at this birth!

I thought I started labor a week and a half before it truly began. I had tightening of my uterus with no pain regularly and unceasing for the next 10 days. But I could eat and sleep no problem so I just stopped talking to anyone but my husband and turned off my phone and tried not to think about how badly I wanted to be in labor and get this pregnancy over with.

True labor was rough. Beyond rough. 10 straight hours of contractions that burst through my back, abdomen, pelvis and then down my hips with such velocity and power it felt as though my muscle fibers were all desperately resisting being ripped into tiny shreds. They started around 6 pm Wednesday evening, lasting around one minute with decent 4-5 minute breaks but then quickly accelerated to a minute and a half long with increasingly smaller breaks. Soon I could no longer simply keep my body still through the ravaging power of the contractions, and began moaning to help myself deal with the massive pain, pain I never imagined possible. Counter pressure, a cool washcloth, and soothing words from my husband and doula were extremely comforting while I attempted to control my breathing through what felt like attacks on my body by some supernatural force. I began to scream and cry out to God and felt that I could no longer go on right before my midwife told me I was eight centimeters dialated. I then moved to my tub. The warm water felt great initially but soon the contractions again began ravaging my body-1.5-2 minutes long, 30 seconds break between the waves of unbelievable pain. I then switched techniques and began deeply breathing in and slowly as possible breathing out during the contractions. I would count my breaths, starting at one and telling myself just to get to five, that if I just got to five breaths the peak would soon end, that I could do five of anything and that the contraction would end even if I only got a little break at least it was something. Often I would count to five, five very deep and long breaths, 3 or 4 times before the contraction would start to wane, and quite often the decrease in intensity was only incremental enough to keep me from feeling as if I were truly dying. But I just kept telling myself it would end soon, and that I could do it, and even though I was tottering on the edge of the grand canyon, on my heels, leaning back, using all of my strength to keep my balance, that it would end eventually.

While in the tub I began submerging my face in the water as I exhaled, as if I was swimming. This was very helpful – I swam quite a bit during pregnancy and used this same breathing technique. Eventually though, I nearly drowned myself and had to be helped out of the tub. At this point my body began to completely surrender to the contractions. I could not walk, stand or sit without considerable support. My vision was blurred and sideways. Vertigo set in. On the rare occasion I opened my eyes it was as if I was in another world, another dimension. I was aware and immensely thankful for my birth team. I was constantly aware of the fact that I could not function without them, yet I also was not fully conscious of where their physical presence was. I just knew they were there, taking care of me. I accidentally punched and poked my husband a few times but he didn’t even budge.

I then moved to the bed where I stayed for the rest of the labor until pushing. The contractions somehow began to get even stronger, I could not understand it, I kept begging for a break, but there were none. The contractions amped up to 2.5-3 minutes, I believe. Right on top of one another. I know this because I was continuing to take the deep breaths, counting to five 3-5 times before they would subside even a bit, and each breath was easily 8 seconds long. I attempted a hands and knees position and collapsed immediately on the floor. I was beaten up badly and fighting nausea, sipping water when I could and unable to urinate despite an overwhelming urge because every time I’d make it to the toilet I’d sit down and suffer terribly for 2-3 contractions. I loved my pillows. For the 10 seconds between contraction peaks, I was in love with my pillows and so thankful for my husband and doula. And then I would feel as if I was fighting for my life again. Then the contractions began to change after about 8.5 hours, near the peak I would bear down on my bottom and the contraction would kick through me and I would grunt out uncontrollably. After about eight of these I asked for my midwife and she said I could start pushing. I was so happy because I knew it would soon be over.

Little did I know the new searing pain that would soon descend and rip a new part of me up. But it was still exciting and relieving to know this journey would soon end. I thanked god repeatedly and was so thankful for my breath. I got into a sitting squat on the floor on the side of my bed and waited till a contraction started and then took two deep breaths and on the third, at the peak of the contraction I would push. I’d hold my breath, push my chin into my chest, and push my breath and energy down for as long as confortable. Near the end of most contractions the pushing would just burst out of me and I couldn’t help it. Besides these moments though I never felt an uncontrollable urge to push. As he descended and crowned the burning ripping tearing apart pain began and did not cease until he was out. My midwife, doula and husband urged me along as I neared the end, with a massive scream and every ounce of energy I didn’t know I had I leaned into my husband’s body in a full squat, sweat pouring down my body, praying to God, and pushed out his head. I then pushed out the body and was so happy. My midwife unwrapped the cord from his body and his beautiful scream began. I quickly pushed out the placenta and said to my baby-Mommy’s done! Because I had been dreaming of that moment for so long. I quickly gulped down two huge glasses of water as I held my gorgeous crying baby in my arms. I always thought I would cry when my baby was born and in my arms, but I was in so much pain I could only be thankful it was over and be in the moment and stay focused and begin to recuperate and take care of myself and my body. The fatigue was incredible post delivery. The peach I ate was amazing and the water I drank immensely satisfying. But the sleep I had been dreaming of for 10 hours was so so sweet.

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