Nobody likes to hurt. We have this amazing thing called modern medicine and it can take away any twinge of an ache or pain. As a nurse, I have a personal belief in pain relief that is this — let’s fix it with medicine unless there is another way that can better the individual. Then, let’s help them learn how to overcome and become a stronger person. This is the same philosophy I chose to apply when I was planning the birth of my daughter.
What? No epidural? Girl, you so crazy.
Well, no, I’m not crazy. And while I have needed high-dose pain relief for that cavity I once had, I was ready to boldly go where thousands of women before me had gone: into the land of natural childbirth. It was the only thing I ever knew because of my mom. I honestly went into my labor and delivery clinicals in nursing school believing this is what most women did. I saw one woman have a natural birth while in school — and it was only because the anesthesiologist wasn’t available to get her an epidural. I will also mention I was a labor and delivery nurse for a little while and the experience taught me to get educated and take charge of my health care, especially the birth of my child. It’s my body and I wanted to avoid a C-section. The CDC estimates the current national C-section rate to be around 32 percent — and it’s on the rise.
In medicine, technology is a double edged sword. High-tech-low-touch is becoming the norm. Birth is normal (except for some high-risk situations) and it should be treated that way. Women should be encouraged to make informed decisions about their birth and what will best benefit the outcomes of their baby and their health. For me, this meant plans for a natural birth. Here’s my story of how it all played out:
I went to bed feeling a little down, so I prayed “God, I know this baby will come in your time, but do you think that could be rather soon?” Who am I to tell God what to do....
I woke up at 6:30 am on Thursday, January 27, 2011 to something different. It felt like Braxton Hicks, but different. Now, they wrapped around to my back. But it didn’t really hurt, so I went back to sleep. I became more aware of what was going on and decided to call my nurse-midwife friend, Helen, and use her as a sounding board. She reassured me that even if it was real labor, it was early. I agreed and became more relaxed but excited to know that our baby was getting ready to debut. She suggested that I try and call one of our other labor and delivery nurse friends, who lived close to me and have her check to see if I was dilated. I decided around 8:30 or so I would head on over to for a check. I didn’t notice the contractions were more frequent now, but my husband did because he asked, “Are you sure you want to drive yourself? I’ll drive.” Good thing he did, because I would have probably stopped at Walgreens or something to shop on the way home. I was 3 centimeters and about 90% effaced. Whoo hoo! Considering I had made zero progress two days prior, I was a believer that this was finally happening.
I went home and continued as planned with how I wanted to labor. I ate a nice healthy snack, fixed something to drink and sat on the birth ball and proceeded to watch The Price is Right. I would have contractions, Michael would come and apply counter-pressure and then I would resume my viewing while he installed the car seat (no time like last minute, I know). I even decided to fold some laundry and clean the kitchen all while stopping to have contractions. At some point I decided I might want to take a shower and put on make up so I didn’t look gross going to the hospital. That was when things got rough. The shower felt great — it calmed my nerves and helped me relax, I spent a lot of time praying and singing hymns that reminded me to “fear not” because God was in control. I was turning into a prune, so I got out of the shower and threw on a bit of makeup, but things were really happening fast now. I don’t know how I didn’t stab myself in the eye with a mascara wand.
I was nervous my mom wouldn’t make it in time coming all the way from Covington. Of course that morning when we talked I wasn’t hurting much so I figured we had time. Well, I think at about 12:00 Michael called her and left a voice mail telling her I was OK, but wondering where she was. To this day, she still has this voicemail — you hear me in the background, I am clearly not OK. We also called our doula and my OB to let him know. At this time, things got a little scary in my mind. The contractions kept coming, they hurt, I couldn’t keep focus and I was starting to feel “crazy”. Michael tried to help me as I labored in the tub, but I was on the verge of loosing it. Thankfully, Kira arrived and came to my rescue. She looked me in they eye and asked me: “What are you afraid of?” I looked at her and said, “I don’t know. I don’t know if I can do this.” She reassured me that I was doing great and that I was doing it and would soon have a baby. I went to the bathroom and realized my water was about to break. In my mind, my maternal instinct took over and I thought, “If this breaks here, I won’t make it to the hospital. I will have this baby here.” (Hindsight, this would not have been a terrible thing. I rather admire some of the women who give birth in a toilet at home.) I came out of the bathroom and declared I was ready to go to the hospital. This is when the torture began. To sit still was pure misery. Kira looked me in the eye again and said “The car ride is going to suck, but you have to go. We don’t have what we need here for a birth.” It took me about a half hour to actually get in the car because the contractions were so close together. And then, we hit every stoplight and if we would have gotten behind a school bus, I would have probably given birth on the side of the Pinhook.
I arrived at Lafayette General at 3:06, and Fallon, my rock star nurse, had my room all ready for me. I must mention I had been texting her all day with updates as she and I are former co-workers. She checked me and I was 8 cm. She called my OB to come to the hospital. The contractions were so frequent and intense, there was no time to get an IV started or to keep me on the fetal monitor, so she just did short doppler checks on the fetal heart rate. My mom finally arrived and then my OB arrived and I begged him to break my water because I knew it wasn’t going to break on its own and I needed the relief. Well, he did. And then I was ready he said — I didn’t see that coming. He told me I could push. I squatted on the side of the bed and pushed for a little bit, but I was quickly loosing steam because this fast labor was wearing me out. Michael and Kira helped me back in the bed and Fallon helped guide me to push because I was so close. I closed my eyes, gave it all I had and then at 4:05 pm, Stella Claire Walker was born.
She was beautiful and I felt like I could do anything; I wanted to climb a mountain — thanks to the surge of hormones. It was the best moment of my life and my labor was all I ever could have asked for. God gave me so much more than I ever deserved and it was amazing. I am so glad I trusted my body to do what I was made for: to give birth naturally. There were times when I wanted to throw in the towel, but I just kept telling myself:
“This will not last forever. There will be an end to this. And you will have a baby.”
Our Stella on her birthday
Not my most attracitve moment, but I felt great to finally have that little baby.
With the guidance of a doula, attending childbirth classes with my husband and communication, I reached my goals. Birth is not something you show up at and expect to win. Just like I would never sign up for a marathon and expect to get there on race day and be successful. I have a passion for birth and babies and improving best outcomes. I hope can take away something positive to share with someone else.For those who set out on a path similar to mine and didn’t get the same outcomes, know that it’s not for nothing — your efforts are amazing and you have the ability to share what you learned with other moms to help them have great outcomes. It’s about healthy moms and healthy babies.