When I was 20 weeks pregnant, my husband and I decided to look into an out of hospital birth. I didn’t know that was even a possibility until I read Ina May Gaskin’s “A Spiritual Guide to Childbirth.” It was empowering to read women’s stories about their natural births and how beautiful the experience was to them. I hadn’t even finished the book before looking into alternatives. Thankfully, my husband was on board as soon as I told him.
Fast forward 18 weeks and I had Olivia Rose at a birth center in Los Angeles. It was the most magical experience of my life.
On Thursday August 17th 2017, I went into labor at 38 weeks and 2 days. It started slowly with mild contractions happening every 30 minutes. I actually didn’t believe I was in labor and kept Googling early labor symptoms. Denial set in and I continued with my day i.e. packaging Sotela orders and doing last minute online shopping for Olivia. After a couple of hours, I emailed (yep, emailed) my midwife asking if I was in early labor. She lovingly scolded me for emailing because I was in labor and told me to continue monitoring my contractions and go about my day.
So I did what any good procrastinator would do, go to Target and buy things I needed for the birth center bag I hadn’t packed yet. I also can’t forget the grocery store to buy eggs because I didn’t want to be at home post labor without eggs. Ha! Walking around the store while contracting was not easy. I remember grabbing the cart and putting my head down for each contraction. Once I was home, I started my bag and cleaned the kitchen (you can’t bring a baby home to a dirty kitchen haha). I think J was also in denial because when he got home, he couldn’t believe my contractions were now 7 minutes apart. We decided to go on a last minute date to In-N-Out with our dog and walked around the parking lot because they was a classic car show.
Friday morning we go to the birth center because we think it’s “time.” My midwife checks me and I’m only 1-2 cm dilated. You can imagine my disappointment. She tells me to go home and relax because I will be having Olivia soon. I try to relax as much as possible even though I’m having contractions every 5-7 minutes.
Saturday I wake up disappointed that I’m STILL pregnant. At this point I’m exhausted because I hadn’t slept in two days. I try taking a nap and an hour into it, I feel the most intense contraction ever. I immediately think THIS is how active labor contractions must feel. From 5 pm to 1 am, I labor at home. It gets to the point where I just want to pull my hair to feel something other than the contractions. I think the back pain was the worst part. At 1:30 am my midwife calls me and J answers because I’m in too much pain. She asks how I’m doing and hears me moaning through a contraction. She finally thinks I’m in a good active labor pattern and tells us to go to the birth center.
We get there at about 2:30 am and my midwife tells me I’m 6cm dilated. I labor in the birth tub for several hours until I’m 10cm dilated. Let me tell you, that water is heavenly. It really helps with contraction pains because I felt so much better than I did when I was at home. I was even smiling and laughing with my sister. Once I started feeling the urge to push, I got out of the tub and onto the bed. I didn’t really want to have a water birth because I’ve read studies of women tearing more in water.
My water finally broke when I was on the bed and I began pushing. It took about 3 hours because miss Olivia made it challenging. My midwife had told me that part of my cervical lip was blocking my cervix. They had removed it manually, but it kept going back and blocking the way. It wasn’t until the second hour of pushing when they realized her ear was getting caught in my cervical lip. They were able to feel her ear first because her head was tilted toward her shoulder instead of tucked into her chest. So not only was her ear in the way, but I had to push with her head turned to the side. My midwives turned her 180 degrees so that she would come out with her head straight and tucked in. Once her head was out, they had to maneuver some more to get her shoulders out because they are really broad.
As soon as she was out my midwives told me and J to get her and we did. I held her arms and shoulders and he grabbed her feet. We put her on me and immediately had skin to skin. I can’t even begin to describe how it feels to have your baby on you for the very first time.
After about an hour she latched on and I breastfed for the first time. It was so surreal. After a couple hours, we went home as a family of three.
Olivia is almost a month old and she is simply everything we wanted and more. We are so in love.