In Celebration of Harley turning one, I want to finally share our Birth Story with you all. One year ago today, (May 26th, 2018) Harley James was born into this world at 6:24 AM, after 60 hours of labor! I would love to say that this was the best day of my life, and it was, but it was so many other things too. It was also the hardest, scariest, most challenging day of my life. My labor began like any other, easing into the contractions slowly and lightly. I had my first noticeable contraction Tuesday, May 23rd around 4pm. Colton and I were on our daily walk at a Lake near our house in La Mesa, CA. I was feeling small “surges” (what they call contractions in Hypnobirthing) every 20 minutes. They were very easy to manage and weren’t painful at all. They almost didn’t seem real because at the time I felt like it was “too good to be true” that the baby was finally coming. I was two weeks past my due date..TWO WEEKS people..two weeks. Throughout my pregnancy I saw an OB/GYN aaaand a midwfe. Colton and I decided we wanted to have a home birth about halfway through my pregnancy. I knew from the beginning that was what I truly wanted, but didn’t pursue it until about 6 months in. When we found our midwife and created a birth plan that could take place in the comfort of our own home we both felt so at ease with the whole birthing experience we were going to encounter. Even though we were SO comfortable with our midwife and trusted her and ourselves completely, I still continued to see my OB on the side. Mostly because her care was covered by insurance and the check ups were very minimal. The only downside to continuing in her care was once we passed our “due date” the doctors and nurses started to get “concerned”. They immediately started to talk about Induction and what the plan would be to "get that baby OUT”. Talk of this just made me anxious and nervous. Exactly what a pregnant/mama-to-be, doesn’t need. I already was having a lot of sleeping problems during pregnancy and this just made it even harder for me to get a goods night sleep. And boyyy do we need our sleep in the days leading up to birth! There was talk of breaking the sac, using drugs, and some other things I wouldn’t do, were mentioned. As the days kept passing without any signs of our boy making an appearance, I was getting more stressed about them wanting to Induce me. It was even getting to a point where my midwife vaguely was bringing up natural ways of “getting things going”. In my head and in my heart I knew there was no deadline. The baby will come no matter what, and he will come when HE is ready, and when my body is ready. Women have been having babies since the beginning of time and doctors, drugs, and Inductions were not always involved. So when I FINALLY began to experience natural contractions, I didn’t believe it was happening. Earlier that day I had my final OB appointment, they wanted me to have the baby that day because he was now officially 2 weeks past due (which is their deadline). I begged for just 1 more day and said I just wanted to go home and talk everything over with Colton. Plus we had planned to meet with our Midwife later that evening anyway, and I wanted to talk with her about her thoughts and suggestions. I just had this feeling, this motherly instinct, I knew he would come, I just knew. You can now Imagine how unbelievable those first contractions felt. I was so happy I listened to my intuition and that he was now on his way!
I continued to have light contractions, 20 minutes apart for the rest of the evening. Neither Colton or I were alarmed, we were both in a very calm state. We didn’t call our doctor or midwife, we just relaxed at home, had dinner, watched a movie, and talked. Around 10:30pm the contractions started getting closer and closer together. Colton decided we should start timing them. They were 5 MINUTES APART. Dang that sped up quick! They were still so mild though, I wasn’t experiencing any pain or discomfort at all. Each contraction was lasting longer and longer though. When they got to be about 1 minute long, and 5 minutes apart, we decided we should let my midwife know that I was in labor! I texted her around 11:30pm and let her know I might be calling her in the middle of the night. I thought this was happening! If you’re a Mom you already know that every single book, every single birthing class, every single midwife/doctor/doula, or even other Moms, will tell you; If you go into Labor at night STILL TRY TO GET SOME SLEEP! First off let’s just laugh at the suggestion together right now..HAHA! Okay we all know that sleep just isn’t going to happen. Your adrenalin is raging, your hormones are kicking, and your excitement is through the roof! But in my defense I did tryyyyy to get some sleep that night. I told my Midwife that I wasn’t in any pain and that I still felt vey calm, so I was going to try to sleep and call her when I feel we need her. Colton stayed awake wanting to be right there for me when I needed him. I insisted he try to get some sleep himself so he is well rested later when I truly need him. I tossed and turned all night long. I was to anxious to fall asleep, but in the most excited/ready to do this way. If I did dose off for a few minutes the next surge would wake me right back up. Morning time came, and I was still having mild contractions, nothing had really progressed yet. At this point I had been having contractions for over 12 hours. Each one was getting a bit stronger. Now when I would feel them I didn’t want to talk through them, but just close my eyes and relax. But I still wasn’t at a point where I needed my midwife to come yet. We got out of bed, headed to the kitchen and had some breakfast. Another thing all the books, and mamas tell you; Get in a good meal while in early labor. I was able to get down my regular breakfast of oatmeal with almond butter and fruit. It didn’t sound super appetizing, but whatever, I knew I should eat. I mean the babies still in there after all! I continued to have contraction after contraction for the rest of the day, each one getting stronger and stronger. Colton rubbed my back, held me close, practiced all the techniques we learned in our Birthing Class. As the surges got stronger, guess what, I hated every single “technique” we learned, that I thought would help me. I didn’t want Colton to even touch me. I didn’t want anything really..just to close my eyes and focus. Focusing on the contraction is what helped me the most. I tried to mentally embrace each one. Some were harder than others. Counting them out helped, that may sound torturous to some women but it worked for me. Around 5pm (now in labor for 24 hours) is when it started to get INTENSE. I was feeling like these were now very strong contractions, I didn’t feel comfortable sitting, standing, laying down, or really doing anything. I was still aware of the time at this point. I saw that it had been about 24 hours..I thought, “it’s probably going to happen soon..its been 24 hours and I can’t imagine stronger surges than this.” Colton still trying to comfort me even though I pushed his touch away overtime, called our midwife, I was ready for her to come over now. Her and her assistant were both there within the hour. As soon as they walked through the door I immediately entered the “active labor” state. I heard Colton greet them as they came to the door. I was going to walk out of the bedroom to say hello but whenI got up, plans changed..I hit the bathroom and puked a huge vomit! Ugh now I felt even worse and I kept thinking, “the baby must be coming soon.”
For the next 24 hours you could say I was in “Labor land” Contraction after contraction, surge after surge. Everything was getting more and more intense, I couldn't imagine my body opening more than it already was. I wouldn’t say the pain was increasing or that I was even in pain at all. The intensity is what was growing. It’s really a feeling you can never fully describe or know until you go through it yourself. You see a contraction feels exactly like what it really is. It is your body opening up for the baby to come out. You physically feel yourself opening and widening. With each surge you expand and expand and expand some more, to where you think you body is just going to burst and explode and then boom contraction over. You know have a minute to breathe but then the next one starts coming. Even though I wouldn’t call them “painful” that doesn’t mean they don’t well..suck! haha! The problem was even though I was having active and intense contractions, they had no consistency, no pattern. I would have several close together, then they would slow down and space out. Then I would have a really long one, then a short one. Then they would stop again, then start again. I getting so confused, especially being over 24 hours in. My midwife tried some natural things to get things going. Some exercises, so body adjustments, a walk..the walk was pretty much a joke, I did one lap around our parking lot, taking teeny tiny grandma steps practically crying. I still didn’t want anyone to touch me and I also wasn’t enjoying or finding relief in the birthing tub either. I always pictured birthing my baby in the tub and thought water would be so soothing but nope I didn’t like that either. You see, the rest of the world kind of disappears in a sense. After hours and hours of these inconsistent contractions I decided I wanted to finally get checked, I had to see where I was at. I originally didn’t want to get checked at all, meaning to see how many centimeters my cervix was dilated, due to being afraid of discouragement. Imagine being in labor for 30 hours and being told your at 4 centimeters when you have to get up to 10 centimeters to have a baby. I layed on my bed, waited for my next contraction and let my midwife see where I was at. It was so uncomfortable and I was so scared to see what she would say. I was at 8 centimeters! Relief! I felt so good hearing this. I had this boost of energy and I thought, “2 more centimeters to go? I can do this!!!” I took on several more surges, I embraced each one, closed my eyes, counted them out, and breathed. It was now 2am. I was ready to have this baby. I was getting tired, very tired. I wasn’t sure how much longer I could go on. It still wasn’t time to push, my head hadn’t even broke yet. I started saying things I thought I’d never say, mentioning going into the hospital, and telling Colton “I’m never f****** doing this again!” My midwife suggested I try getting in the hot shower. I tried it. I liked it. This was the best thing I had tried so far. I let the hot water run down my back. I leaned on the shower wall through each surge. I hit the walls through each surge too. I wanted Colton in there with me, I didn’t want to be alone. He came in with me and guided me through each contraction with his words. He told me, “You got this” he said, “Harley is on his way” “You’re so strong” “We get to meet our baby soon” I was feeling like I couldn’t go on any longer and I wanted to pray. I asked Colton to pray with me. I asked God to let my water break. I said, “it has to, it has to break, I need a sign.” I stayed in the shower for awhile, until I just felt like "I should get out I've been in here too long” Immediately after getting out while I was just wrapped in a towel..my water broke. It broke..it freaking broke finally! Oh my god I was so excited, I screamed, “my water just broke!!!” I had the LONGEST most INTENSE contraction yet. It brought me to my knees. I was on the bathroom floor, on all fours, screaming, moaning, and crying. My midwife and her assistant both came crashing in. We all thought we were having this baby right then and there. In my head I was thinking, “this is it” and we all later discussed thats what they were thinking too. Then, again just like that contractions slowed down. slowed way down. This boy just did not want to be born. I was delirious and I didn’t understand. I kept asking my midwife what was going on, but she really didn’t know either. She kept trying to “drop my leg” a body repositioning, give me some natural herbs, she also would have me sit on the toilet, she would ask me, “why don’t you try to go pee..?” I didn’t want to, everything was uncomfortable and I started realizing that she didn’t really think I had to pee but she was trying to get me squatting! I went in and out of the birthing tub trying to find relief, in and out of the shower a couple more times. We went all the way through another night and another morning. God damn it I couldn’t take it anymore. It had now been several hours since my water broke. Once the water brakes, baby is supposed to come soon. If he doesn’t this opened passage way increases babies chance for infection. I brought up the hospital again to Colton. He reinformed me that I could do anything I wanted to do and he would be there for me. He also did remind me of how much he knew I wanted to do this at home, and how he knew I wanted to do this Drug free. He suggested we try just a little bit longer, and I agreed.
I didn’t know at the time but throughout my labor my Mom was texting back and forth with Colton checking on me. She was worried and was wondering why she hadn’t received a call saying the baby was here yet. Now that we were on day 3 of labor my mom was begging to come over and see me. Colton said no at first trying to honor my wishes. When we talked about our birth plan I made it clear that I didn’t want my Mom there. I love my Mom but she some times gives me anxiety and sometimes we argue when we disagree, which stresses me out. I didn’t want to chance any of that during Labor. I also wanted it to be an intimate experience with just Colton and I when the baby first arrived. But at this point I wanted my MOM! When Colton vaguely mentioned that she wanted to come over I said, “Yes! Tell her to come!” I needed my Moms support. My Mom is a strong believer in prayer and I wanted her to be there to pray with me. I really just wanted any help and support I could get. My Mom arrived shortly. She sat with me through several contractions. Her on one side, Colton on the other. Labor had picked up again and I was experiencing more discomfort than I did before. I was squeezing one of my Moms hands and one of Coltons hands. Later they told me they didn’t even know I physically could squeeze so tight! They said it felt like I could brake their hands, they felt a strength they never knew I had. (A lot of that comes out during birth!) I also let out my surgery by pulling Coltons hair (poor Colton) I don’t know what compelled me to pull his hair, but I would grab his long hair with fists and freaking tug! Again he later told me he really thought I was going to pull all his hair off of his head! I could tell how worried my Mom was about me and she could tell how much stress I was in. She suggested I let Nicole check me again and see where I was at. I was even more scared then the first time, “what if I haven’t progressed at all” I thought. I still let her check..I had to be close. I layed on the bed again, waited through another contraction and let her check. It felt like she was in there checking foreverrrrr. “What is she doing in there? “ I thought. She tweaked around and said, “You feel like a 7, a solid 7.” “A 7?!?!?!” “Last time I was an 8???” I somehow went back a centimeter..I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, I was so confused. She explained that I was so swollen before that she couldn’t get an appropriate measurement. This is exactly what I was afraid of. I was so incredibly discouraged. My stomach dropped and so did my heart. I wanted to cry. I literally took a step backwards, when I was trying as hard as I freaking could. I knew in my head what I wanted to do. I couldn’t believe I was about to make this decision, but I wanted to go into the hospital. I wanted help, something, anything. I also wanted and needed REST! I hadn’t slept in almost 4 days (remember I didn’t sleep at all the night before going into labor either, due to stress.) and I hadn’t eaten since that first breakfast when Labor began. My midwife would chase me around the house offering a bite of oatmeal here and there, maybe a bite of Vegan yogurt every few hours, and I would take it but it wasn’t much. I felt week and tired. My midwife said to take a minute alone with Colton and my Mom to talk things over and discuss what my thoughts were. She also mentioned that in her 20 years of delivering babies, she only experienced one birth longer than mine..only one! We were also all still worried that the water had broke SO long ago now. We weren’t sure if something was wrong. I sat in the bedroom with colton and my Mom, holding their hands again so when a contraction started I could squeeze it out. They both fully supported my decison to go into the hospital. I asked my Mom to come along with us. We always did have an “emergency” plan incase this happened. Although it wasn’t an emergency or even a “home birth transfer” because I made the choice to go on my own. It got to a point where I lost the whole point of this journey, I wasn’t thinking about the baby anymore, I honestly forgot about the baby (if that makes sense). My mind was now filled with thoughts like, “get me out of this” and “is it over yet”. When I reminded myself of the whole point to this chaos..to have this baby. I was able to think rationally. I was feeling so week and tired that I now was thinking, if the baby comes now, theres no way I can stay up all night (again) to take care of him. How will I care for a crying baby through the night, how will I feed the baby through the night? I still won’t get to rest.
We grabbed our pre packed hospital bag, got in the car and headed to the Women's Birthing Center here in San Diego. Yes, the birthing center, it actually wasn’t the “hospital”. Like I said this wasn’t an emergency, but a choice. The contractions I experienced during that car ride were the worst of them all. I felt car sick and couldn’t wait to find get out of there. We arrived finally! I was looking a mess and leaning on walls through contractions. Everyone around knew I was in active labor, they got me to a delivery room right away! Unfortunately Colton had to check us in so I was alone at first. (the first negative to the birthing center). By now I was one of those ladies screaming, “GIVE ME THE DAMN EPIDURAL” haha not really, but I was in my head! I did make a point to mention right away that I wanted an epidural. They are required to check your cervix before giving any drugs, I was at 8 centimeters. OMG I progressed back to 8. I was a little disappointed that I was that far along and about to get the epidural, but at the same time I didn’t care. I experienced one more contraction, this time holding the nurses hands and apologizing for squeezing so tight. Clearly this was nothing new to her, she laughed. The epidural kicked in and I immediately felt relaxed. An epidural is made to numb you from the waist down. There are several different levels of having one though. I went for the very minimum. I didn’t want to be numbed out but just to find some relief. I still felt every time my body was opening, it just took the intensity level down). I also felt myself pushing when baby came, but it wasn’t painful (okay I’m sure this part hurts but ill never know). After receiving the epidural I was able to take a nap. I slept for a few hours actually (dozing in and out, adrenaline was still pumping). My midwife joined us a few hours after arriving, and so did my Mom. We were all so exhausted but still on our game. We arrived to the birth center at about 6pm, and now it was about 2am..yep still no baby. The doctors were monitoring my contractions now, guess what they slowed down AGAIN. See, you can’t push until you are 10 centimeters dialated and are having consistent contractions one after another. My contractions were all over the place..WTF! We were all starting to worry that the doctors were going to want to perform a C-section. Oh god I would be so scared and upset if that happened. I felt as though my original birth plan was already shattered and now a C-section?! What was I going to do? My original OB came to check on me. She checked my cervix and casually informed us, “Oh! There was a piece of the sac that was broken” “WHAT?!” I thought. She rephrased and said, “Your water didn’t brake all the way” Oh my god my water didn’t brake all the way how did my midwife not notice that?! The OB broke it with her finger, water gushed out, contractions sped up, it was almost time. The doctors left the room while I worked up to 10 centimeters. At about 6am they came back for the nurse check me one last time and said she could feel the babies head! They told me it was time! Time to push! I wanted to cry. I was so nervous I couldn’t believe “it was time” and that the baby was ACTUALLY coming. It’s the weirdest and I most say most unnatural feeling, when you aren’t physically experiencing the contractions, you’re laying on a hospital bed, your calm and relaxed and all of a sudden..oh hey time to push. It was weird and I must admit I felt way less connected to the experience than I did before. I was still so determined though! I was ready to get this baby OUT, I was so not about to be one of those women who have to push for hours and hours, “were getting this done!” I thought. Guided by my midwife and the nurse (who we actually loved) I embraced and got the hang of pushing quickly. I kept thinking about “poop breathing” a technique we learned in Hypnobirthing, to breath the baby down and not to bring him back in. I practiced this and now put it into play. I could see Colton's face lighting up, I could see my Mom looking like she was gunna cry. The doctor said his head was out and that he had hair! My midwife kept looking me in the eyes saying “you can do this Rachel!” It was 6:24am and I did it! 20 minutes of pushing and our baby boy was born. Colton cut the cord and they handed him to me, I held him close to my chest. I was in the weirdest state. I couldn’t believe this baby was inside of me. There was now a real live baby in my arms. This was the craziest most surreal feeling I ever experienced. Harley was finally here!
Home birth vs Hospital Birth
(my thoughts/what I would choose next time)