Harper Joy Klingensmith rapidly made her debut into this world on her due date, May 11 2012 at 9:31 in the morning.
Here is my birth story:
After being told by nearly everyone that has more than one child that the second and third baby often arrives sooner and faster (and sometimes bigger!) than the first, I was pretty frustrated when weeks 38 and 39 passed me and my growing belly by. (Avery was born 3 days before her due date after a 12 hour labor.) A few promising doctor's appointments reassured me that I was indeed dilating and effacing (1cm 50% at 38 weeks; 2cm 80% at 39 weeks) so I was expecting labor to come...eventually.
I did a few things at home to speed up the process at 38 weeks. I drank literally gallons of red raspberry leaf tea which is supposed to encourage the uterus to contract. I also took 2000mg of evening primrose oil tablets a day and I tried to walk and eat spicy food as much as I could. I had my membranes stripped at both my 38 and 39 week appointments, and my due date appointment which was actually the day before.
At that last appointment they gave me a non-stress test which consists of an ultrasound to measure amniotic fluid levels (mine were well within normal limits) and monitoring of baby's heartbeat and my contractions. All was frustratingly normal! I made an appointment to be induced at the hospital at 41 weeks, Friday May 18th which was the soonest my midwife would schedule it. I was disappointed and had given up trying anything, and decided to use the extra week to spend time with Avery and get other errands done. Well, Harper had different plans for me!
The morning of May 11th, I woke up at 4:30am with some contractions, which I had been having on and off for weeks and hadn't really timed before. Well, I went to the bathroom and then laid back down, noticing another contraction. Exactly 8 minutes from the first. Hmm. They were like strong cramps but not sharp or really painful, more uncomfortable. I stayed in bed for an hour, dozing in between each one and waking up exactly 8 minutes later. Since I was awake I decided to call the nurse at the hospital and see what she thought. As I was speaking to her, she heard me having a contraction and said I might as well come on in considering we live about 40 min away, it was my second baby, and I was due that day. She said the worst-case scenario was they would monitor me and send me home if nothing was happening. I decided to take a shower first and give myself more time to keep track of them. I woke Alex up and he got Avery ready while I was in the shower. Boy, did they kick up a notch then! He saw me doubling over in the shower and I asked him to look at the clock a few times...4 minutes apart now. And they hurt pretty bad.
So in the car we go! I have contractions every 4 minutes on the drive and I am definitely in pain during them, but in between I feel incredible relief. We check in around 6:45 and by the time they check me I am 3.5cm 80% effaced. They asked me to walk around the L&D ward for an hour and then they will check me again. So, Avery and Alex and I walk around, while I am leaning over and gripping the handrail every 4 minutes. My mom is on the way to pick up Avery and around 8 she arrives, braids my hair, and Alex walks her and Avery down to the car. While they are gone, I am still contracting, waiting for the nurse to check me and I am in EXCRUCIATING pain and they seem to be coming every 2 to 3 minutes. She finally comes to check me just as Alex is walking back in, and I was at 5cm with a "bulging bag of water". They decided to admit me (duh!) and I immediately asked for the epidural. The nurse informed me that I need to have 1 L of fluids in through my IV before I can get it. She started my IV immediately, I felt my water bag break during a DOOZY of a contration, while the best doctor EVER, Dr Cantu, came in to check me. She informed me that I was now 8cm dilated 100% effaced. She asked the nurse where anethesia was and she told her about the fluid, said I was less than half-way there. The doctor said "Forget about the fluid, let's get her some pain mediation." I could have kissed her if I wasn't in so much pain! She told me to let her know if I felt the need to bear down and at that moment I am curled up sideways gripping the side rail of the bed and I yell "I need to push!" She checked me and says, "Honey, you are complete and the baby is right here. I am going to break your water (apparently there are 2 bags, only a smaller, first one had broken before) and you are going to push this baby out." I said to her, very, umm passionately "NO!! I cannot push this baby out without drugs! I pushed for almost 2 hours with my first daughter, I can't do it!" She calmy said "Honey, yes you can. I promise you she will be out in 2 pushes. You can do this!" She later told me the panicked looked in my eyes when I realized this was happening right NOW AND WITHOUT ANY PAIN MEDICATION, was priceless. I clearly had no choice in the matter and at 9:20, I got my legs in the stirrups, the bottom half of the bed falls away and all the amazing nurses in the room yell at me to PUSH!! And I did, with almost all of my might (I was TERRIFIED) and I felt the baby coming out! It was/is an incredible, and of course terribly painful, feeling. But compared to the complete lack of feeling I had with Avery because of the epidural, it was sort of amazing to feel my effort actually doing something. While I am taking a break between contractions, I feel like I am going to throw up so they hand me a sick bag, and they take the opportunity to coach me to stop yelling so loudly (umm, yeah, I was yelling and cursing and whimpering like they do in the movies, not my finest moment!) and use that energy to PUSH!! So I did, and her head is out! I can feel that it is out! It feels like a relief but then it felt like I needed to push again, so I did and then at 9:31, 2 pushes later as promised, MY BABY GIRL IS BORN! And I survived! And I actually felt AMAZING! I absolutely can not believe I did that and lived to tell the story. I was as much in love with my daughter as I was in complete disbelief that had all just happened! I hadn't even updated my Facebook yet!! The whole thing could not have gone any further from my "plan" if I had tried.
So, the million dollar question: would I do it again unmedicated? Without even a second thought, my answer is ABSOLUTELY NOT. Although there are many many pros to having a natural delivery, such as a super fast recovery (I had only 2 Motrin following delivery), minimal tearing (I had one 1st degree tear, requiring only 1 stitch), and a very alert baby (Harper had/has zero problems with latching or nursing in general, and we were nursing within 30 minutes of her birth), I joked with the doctor that I would move into the hospital at 39 weeks with my next one and have a continuous flow of medication until my baby is born. I was so scared during the delivery, and I'm sure poor Alex was frightened as well. It was a complete 180 from the delivery room during Avery's birth, which was calm and empty until she was crowning.
That being said, I cannot believe how good and clear and aware I felt immediately after Harper was born. I remember commenting to the nurses that the hour or so following Avery's birth was blurry and I don't recall parts, but I felt so present this time. I didn't miss a single thing. And I walked to the bathroom an hour later. Our bodies are so incredible and I have a new found respect for mine, to say the least!
Thanks for reading this far! As your reward, here are some pictures from that amazing day. Enjoy