My Baby Is Here: A Natural Birth StorySep 17, 2014
This story is long overdue, but those of you who are mommies know how crazy the first year is with baby...and then it’s quite possible that it just keeps on getting busier?! Those of you who aren’t parents yet, well yes, it’s busy busy busy but ALL worth it. I thought I understood before, but you will only truly understand when you have children. So a year and a half later, I am publishing my natural birth story. Thank goodness I kept a pregnancy, labor and birth diary, otherwise I would not have remembered everything clearly.
If you get “weirded” out by pregnancy and birth, STOP READING HERE. In this story I share a lot of intimate details so you can truly get a feel of my natural birth experience. I wanted to share my birth story to empower women to choose natural pregnancy, labor and birth. I can tell you that it’s definitely called “labor” for a reason. Although labor and birth were a-m-a-z-i-n-g, I wasn’t one of those women who had a typical relaxed, fast and painless natural birth. I’ll tell you exactly how it was. It was a lot of hard work and by far the toughest most painful thing I’ve had to do – in my life. But my labor and birth were almost exactly how I imagined them (maybe a bit tougher). I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. I was present and in control – the whole 10 hours of active labor!
You can also watch our natural birth story here on YouTube.
Here we go…
It was August 31st in Cascade, Trinidad and Tobago on the night of a full moon…a blue moon to be exact! And it was Independence Day. We were on the roof of our apartment complex, and the fireworks just finished. We decided to head over to our friend Cherise’s house (in the same complex). For some reason, I just had that feeling. I’m not sure how to describe it but something inside me was telling me that the time was approaching. I wanted to stay close to home. It was time for baby to come. Earlier on in the day, Stephan (my husband) and I decided to try out a few natural induction techniques; triggering pressure points on various parts of my body, going for a walk and drinking spice tea (a combo I made with fresh cinnamon, ginger and clove). Live Green is also a lovely natural health shop that I was able to get many of my pregnancy, labor and post-partum teas, supplements and items for mama and baby. Blissed Out Baby is another great one, with an awesome doula who runs it. I just finished my second cup of spice tea and we were leaving Cherise’s place to go home to bed.
As we were saying our good byes at her front door, around 12 a.m, I suddenly felt my underwear start to get wet. Although I felt like I was having to pee 24/7, I knew I had not peed my pants! As Stephan and I started to walk away, I whispered, “Stephan, I think my water broke”. He looked at me with excitement. We rushed into our apartment and he asked me to check my underwear. It wasn’t my imagination (or pee!), I definitely had something going on down there, along with a little bid of bright red blood.
About 15 minutes after what I thought was my water breaking, I started experiencing some slight contractions. Stephan and I took a walk outside and admired the full moon. My contractions progressed fairly quickly (about 3-4 minutes apart; from what I remember) and began getting intense enough that I couldn’t sleep. We called our midwife before we went to bed, and she told me to sleep as much as I could until contractions progressed to about 2 minutes apart. Well sleeping was easier said then done, mostly because of the intensity of the contractions, but also because I was so excited! Who wouldn’t be with such a special gift on the way! :) It was the start of a l-o-n-g two days without sleep.
Morning came and I didn’t sleep more than about 5 minutes at a time. Contractions slowed down a bit, so I was finally able to take a 20 minute nap. When I woke from my nap my contractions had almost stopped. I drank another glass of spice tea and decided to go for what felt like a long walk (no more than 15 minutes), until my contractions started again. This time they were more intense, but 4-5 minutes apart. They continued like that for a few hours.
Stephan went to have lunch at Cherise’s house while I tried to sleep. Again, not much sleep happened, partly because of the contractions but mostly because Stephan called to check up on me every 10 minutes! Anxious daddy ;) I wrote down all my contractions to keep track of their time apart. It was strange how my memory would forget from one contraction to the next, partly because I dozed off between them, but was woken every few minutes. At this time I began feeling restless and slightly exhausted, but thankfully my contractions progressed to 2 minutes apart very quickly, to the point where I could hardly walk anymore. It was time to go!
Stephan went to start the car - to our surprise it was not starting! What are the odds? Let’s just say we have a new car now! He called cousins Stuart and Adrian while I bounced on a yoga ball and tried to breath calmly and keep myself composed. This was the time to practice all the breathing exercises I learnt in my Pre-Natal Yoga (every day!) and Childbirth Classes. We loaded the car, cousins, hubby, baby bump and I. That was the longest car ride ever! Straight out of a movie scene…but I like to think I remained pretty calm…I think.
At approximately 6 p.m we arrived to The Mamatoto Natural Birthing Centre and our beautiful room with a large jacuzzi-style birthing tub awaited us. I must say, we felt quite at home. It was inviting. Stephan set up my candles, relaxing music and lined up the snacks and beverages I prepared, which included a mix of salty and sweet natural foods (whole fruits, brown rice pasta, coconut water, protein bars, energy gummies, etc). I popped a few calcium-magnesium tablets to help my pelvis muscles relax and ease the contraction pains. I sat and bounced on the yoga ball for a while, while Stephan and my doula massaged me. She pressed a pain-relieving pressure point on my back and talked me through every contraction, which was so helpful. Stephan was like my partner, coach, supporter, massage therapist, chef, water boy, and everything else the best daddy-to-be could have possibly been. I got my first examination and was told I was about 4 centimeters dilated, which seemed like so little after all the time spent contracting already. We got to hear our baby’s heart from inside my belly one last time.
Although my contractions kept going, they slowed down a little bit so one of our midwives (we had two midwifes and a doula present) asked me to walk around. My lack of sleep for the last few days, and previous night of contractions was definitely catching up with me. Everyone made sure that I ate my snacks and drank my fluids regularly (coconut water to be specific) to keep my energy going. That was one of the greatest aspects of natural birth; I was allowed to eat and drink what I wanted! As a holistic nutritionist, that was important to me. And without refueling, I’m seriously not sure I would have had enough energy to get the job done. I continued walking around the centre (it was nighttime and we were the only ones there) with Stephan and our amazing “pressure point-pressing” doula. I must of walked up and down that little hallway over a hundred times! Seriously.
A few hours passed. We eventually went back into the room. Our midwife continued to check baby’s heart beat once in a while. They told me I was about 6 centimeters dilated but that my water had not yet broken. I was confused because I thought it had broken back home, but perhaps it was just a leak? My contractions were getting so intense and I was getting very exhausted. I could hardly cope with the pain anymore, because my body was overwhelmed with exhaustion and fatigue. It’s amazing how much concentration and “energy” it takes to breath deeply to manage pain. I had been having contractions for close to 10 hours. At this point our midwives decided to manually assist with breaking my membranes (breaking my water). I laid on the bed on my back, which tremendously increased pain. Thank goodness natural labor and birth permits you to choose your position of choice! As I contracted, she popped my membrane and I felt some warm fluid run down my legs and some pressure on my pelvis. My labor quickly went from manageable to the worst pain of my life. And to call it the worst pain of my life doesn’t seem to give it justice. Lets just say all my marathons and training seem like a breeze now! Labor and birth were definitely very empowering – the experience made me a stronger woman.
Contractions soon progressed to less than 1 minute apart and they were very very intense. The bathtub was quickly filled with warm water. Stephan entered the tub and helped me in. We both sat and “enjoyed” the warm water. At this point I started getting an urge to push. Our midwives examined me and told me it was time. I had imagined this part to be the most relieving but it was in fact the most painful. Keeping in mind that all of this was completely natural without any medication or manual assistance (besides the assistance with breaking my membrane for water to break). I began pushing.
About 30 minutes later, I was still pushing. Things were progressing but not very fast. Every time I pushed I felt like baby was being pulled back in. Well apparently she actually was. After she was born we noticed that her umbilical cord was only a couple inches long...so it was pulling her back. Not sure why. I never expected to be one of those women who screamed during transition, but it was almost like primal instincts took over my body. I don’t think I opened my eyes often; I was so consumed by what was happening internally. It was intense to say the least. After everything, my husbands words were “I was scared for your life!”. But thank goodness he never showed it in the moment. Thanks hubby! ;)
Our midwives eventually told me to stop pushing as baby’s head was starting to show but part of my urethral opening was stuck and holding her shoulders back. This felt like the “burning ring of fire”, as my friend Laura had warned me about! Our midwife helped position everything “down there” and I was finally able to push again! Resisting pushing was so difficult as it was a natural urge. The warmth of the bath helped ease the pain a little. Baby’s head was starting to come out. I was able to feel and see baby’s dark hair (in a mirror). For the last 8-10 contractions in the tub, I felt like I had to give up. I was reduced to begging for someone to help me and telling them I couldn’t go on. But, every single support person I had in that room lifted me up. My sister in law Shivonne kept repeating, “you are doing it”. My mom kept telling me I was fine (grandma and grandpa to-be were on Skype from Canada in the waiting room and our midwife was kind enough to keep them updated). Our midwife told me, “you are birthing your baby”. And my husband did everything in his power to help me out; talking to me, breathing with me, rubbing me, pushing me (even though he later told me he had thoughts that I was going to die!). What a trooper!
Our midwife showed me my baby with a mirror again. After a little over 2 hours of pushing, they questioned why she wasn’t coming out with my pushing (it was the short umbilical cord), so they eventually helped me stand out of the tub and sit on a stool for gravity to assist me. A few hard pushes (and a bit of tearing, ouch!) and baby’s head popped out completely. I heard my baby’s first cry and all the pain in the world couldn’t have mattered anymore. I gave one last BIG push and there was my baby! My first thought was “that just came out of me?!?” In my life I had never felt such relief of pain! I quickly pulled my baby to my body and daddy and I hugged and caressed baby. Baby stopped crying immediately. At this point we thought baby was a boy, as our only ultrasound had indicated (doctor said it was 75% chance boy), but to our surprise, it was a beautiful little princess! A baby girl. The joy that I experienced holding my baby for the first time was unbelievable. I fell in love with her at first sight, and never stopped loving her. The love a mother feels for her child is a bond like no other in this world!
We welcomed Skyla Shivonne Subero (although she was nameless for the first day because she was “supposed” to be a boy a.k.a. Skyler) at 7 lbs 10 ounces, healthy and beautiful! She was born on September 2nd at 2:31 a.m on a full moon, about 10 hours after arriving to the birthing centre.
To bring my baby up to my chest, the cord had to be cut sooner than what I would have liked, but I was able to give them permission. Daddy cut the cord. We were so happy and relieved that our birth plan had been followed, and that we were asked and not pressured into any decision we had to make throughout our labor and birthing experience. Note: Earth Mama Angel Baby has the best online Free Birth Plan creator. We filled it up and printed three copies (one for us, one for our midwives and one for our doula). Our little girl came out very clean and perfectly healthy and vibrant. I could sense a slight burning feeling “down there” but at this point I didn’t really care anymore. Our midwife gave me a few stitches and everything was as good as “new”. We lay in bed with our precious little girl and she latched on to my breast for her first milk feeding…colostrum to be exact…a.k.a liquid gold! My mom and dad soon entered the room on Skype to meet their first grand child (thank goodness for technology). They were overjoyed. The first thing I told them was “I’m never having children again”. It’s funny how the memory of pain soon fades once all the special moments happen. Otherwise not many women would have multiple children.
Our midwife examined Skyla and I. Everything was a-ok! We were able to catch up on some sleep and spend the night in our private room at Mamatoto. Stephan and I slept in our comfy bed, and baby Skyla spent her first night in her little bassinet inches beside us (we were simply too exhausted to co-sleep that night). She never left the room and went out of our sight. That was the best sleep I’d ever had! Thank goodness our midwives and doula checked up on us all periodically throughout the night.
We woke up so happy beside our little bundle of joy. I felt great. I experienced a bit of post-partum bleeding for the next few days, but there’s nothing an adult diaper can’t fix! It was totally normal and gradually decreased as my uterus contracted back to its original shape and size. Our midwife assisted me for my first steps out of bed in the morning to ensure I had not lost too much blood. I was fine and never felt better! I was so excited to bring my baby girl home. We left within a few hours.
Although birth was by far the most painful experience of my life, it was never scary or out of my control. My labor was completely lead by ME, and it was drug-free as I had wanted. I never felt alone and I never felt left in a room. I felt in control and never felt like things were being done to me. And that alone was worth the pain.
I’ve read a lot of stories about natural birth and some seem like such peaceful experiences. Mine wasn’t. It very much felt like a thunderstorm! But I feel a sense of power that I weathered that huge storm and that I birthed my baby. If I had to do it all again, I would do it the exact SAME way.Naturally and in control.
Thank you to my husband Stephan for being the best labor coach ever, to our prenatal birth teacher Marilyn Stollmeyer (and her lactation advice), to our two midwives Debrah Lewis and Ava Joseph Wawe, to our amazing doula Allison Lau, and to my sister in law Shivonne for supporting me through all the pushing and sticking with me at the hardest moments. Also to my mom and dad who sacrificed their cottage vacation to stay up all night on Skype as our midwife kept them updated in the waiting room on a computer (they planned to come but I gave birth a week early; they came in the room minutes after baby was born to greet us on Skype). To cousins Adrian and Stuart for driving us to the birthing centre (our car didn’t start!) and sticking around for support, and to my lactation consultant Adepeju Oyesanya (from OMO and Best Start) who was so helpful in those first few days as a new mommy. I am so grateful for everyone that was able to prepare us well. To our friend Laura for her much needed breast feeding and new mommy advice, to our friend Raeisa and her family for all the post-natal support, to our baby’s god parents Cherise, Shivonne, Daniel and Adrian, and to all our babysitters in those first few months (Cherise, Shivonne, Raeisa, Kathy & Robert, Cindy, Sonelle, etc), to the best grand parents ever as well as to all the wonderful, caring and genuine staff at the Mamatoto Natural Birth and Resource Centre. And I can’t forget my running coach Dexter Simon, and entire +One A Week Running Club family. I know they all held their breath and thought I was crazy while I ran my last race just two weeks before I gave birth. Thank you for supporting and greeting baby bump and I at the finish line! If I forgot to thank anyone, please don’t take it personally, it’s my “pregnancy brain”! ;) I’m sure I forgot someone actually. We love you too! We are so grateful for everyone who supported us throughout pregnancy, labor, birth and becoming new parents. I’d also like to mention that locally, I was able to get a lot of support on the Trini Moms Facebook page. Great resource!
I hope that I was able to inspire you with my natural and real birth story. I also hope that I didn’t traumatize you! Just know that I would do it all over again. I can say that becoming a new mommy was tough, but it was also very rewarding and empowering. My advice to any parents to-be is to get informed on your choices. Take control. If you aren’t sure where to start, or need some inspiration, there are plenty of really good resources I’ve shared below. Before I even knew anything about pregnancy, labor and birth, I watched The Business of Being Born and it really opened my eyes and encouraged me to do my own research. I suggest you do your own as well. Knowledge is key.
Was your birth a peaceful experience? Or was it a powerful thunderstorm like mine?
My favorite pregnancy, labor, birth and post-natal resources:
Books I love:
- The Natural Pregnancy Book by Aviva Jill Romm
- Birthing from Within: An Extra-Ordinary Guide to Childbirth Preparation by Pam England, Rob Horowitz
- Ina May's Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin
- Beyond the Sling by Mayim Bialik, PhD
- The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding by Diane Wiessinger, Diana West, Teresa Pitman
- Naturally Healthy Babies and Children by Aviva Jill Romm
- Natural Baby and Childcare: Practical Medical Advice and Holistic Wisdom for Raising Healthy Children
- Sprout Right: Nutrition From Tummy to Toddler by Lianne Phillipson-Webb
- Baby Led Weaning by Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett
Looking to source quality foods, supplements, and nontoxic home products? This vetted list put together by Beyond Vitality can help!
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