My Birth Intentions:
Before I found out I was pregnant, I hadn't put a lot of thought into a birth plan. But once we got those two positive lines I started to do some research. I have never been a fan of taking medications or getting hooked up to anything, In fact, even going to the dentist gives me anxiety. So I quickly decided I wanted a natural birth, preferably a water birth. I chose to use the midwifes at the Corvallis Hospital. It seemed the best option since that's where Cameron worked. Soon after I was established there, I found out the hospital was no longer doing water births. This disappointed me but I was okay with it as long as they let me labor in the water as long as possible. So I continued to get my prenatal care at the hospital for most of my pregnancy.
At around 30 weeks pregnant I decided to get a doula. At the first meeting with her, I found out she was pregnant as well and would be giving birth at the Corvallis Birth Center. I started to ask more questions and decided the birth center actually aligned best with my birth wishes. I had never stayed in a hospital, didn't want to be hooked up to anything, and wanted my labor to be peaceful with as little intervention as possible. So at around 33 weeks pregnant, I switched all my records over and had my first appointment at the birth center. It turned out to be an awesome idea, I was just sad I hadn't switched over sooner!
On April 6th, I started having light period-like cramping and the urge to clean my house. I spent a few hours cleaning each room and washing all the baby clothes, I didn't really believe nesting to be a thing until I found myself doing it! I had a feeling the time was near. I think there is something to be said about a mothers intuition. Even though I had always told everyone Avery would come late, part of me always knew she would come on her due date. That night, I went to a junk sale in Salem and as I was walking around the cramping started to get worse. After I went home and sat down the cramping seemed to lessen so I brushed it off as nothing and was able to get a solid 9 hours of sleep (little did I know that would be my last full nights of sleep). The next morning I started to have cramping again. I went about my day, Cameron and I took the dog for a walk before the weather started to turn nasty. It became a windy day with lots of rain. Little did I know it was foreshadowing the tumultuous night ahead. We decided to paint some rocks that we took from the Matterhorn on our trip to Europe last September. Doing so helped distract me from the cramping that seemed to slowly be getting worse. We then watched a movie, It was during the movie that the cramping started to feel like labor. The aches were starting to turn into shooting pain.
I debated on whether I should call my doula or not...I didn't want to hassle anyone for a false alarm but around 10:oopm I sent her a text informing her what was going on and then tried to go to bed. Laying in bed, my contractions started to feel more painful and I knew sleep was not going to happen. Cameron suggested I take a bath so I agreed and he got it ready for me. I sat in the tub for about an hour, things didn't seem to be getting better so we decided it was time to call the doula at about 12:30am.. By this time my contractions were lasting 30-45 seconds every 4-5 minutes.
The doula came over while I continued to labor in the tub. I kept the lights off and put on some relaxing music and just sat in the tub. We would time my contractions every so often and they seemed to be anywhere from 30 seconds to a minute so I decided to wait to call the birth center. Occasionally I would get up to kneel over my birthing ball but I was in and out of the tub for the next 4 hours. Cameron and my doula were great at keeping me comfortable and listening to my needs.
At this point the contractions were painful but manageable, I had to concentrate through them but I was still able to just focus on my breath. Around 4am my contractions started lasting. a minute each time so by 5am we decided to call the birth center. When I got a hold of the midwife she informed me they had just delivered a baby a couple minutes ago! They asked if I could wait 45 minutes before coming in so they could clean up. I agreed and stayed in the tub until it was time to leave. The car ride over was a bit uncomfortable, the birth center is about 25 minutes from our house so I had to brace through some contractions on the way. When we got there I found out the two midwifes on call had already delivered two babies that night. Luckily there was still one room left so I didn't have to go to the hospital.
Both my midwife and doula were pregnant with their first as well so I had to let them know how much they had to look forward to. That marked the last light-hearted comment I made, things started getting more serious soon after.
The bath was already drawn so after the midwife checked all my vitals, I immediately hopped in. I learned at home that the bath helped ease my contractions so that was the only place I wanted to be. About an hour after arriving my cervix was checked and I was at 5cm dilated and fully effaced. I wasn't sure if that was good progress or not, I just hoped the last 5cm would go quick. They never checked my cervix again but about an hour later my contractions got much worse. Before this point it was painful but I knew I could handle it. But this new intensity was something else, I started to to feel many new emotions during and after a contraction: despair, anger, anxiety, relief... . I wanted so bad for my labor to be peaceful and to calmly breathe through my labor. But at this point the only thing my mind knew to do was to yell. I tried to remind myself of the Lamaze breathing I learned from our birth class, but after attempting it I found it wasn't enough for me to cope with the pain so I went back to the yelling. I was a bit shocked at how vocal I was. But as the contractions continue to intensify I knew that this was how it was going to be. In-between contractions I wondered what everyone supporting me thought. Were they surprised how I was handling it? I made the mistake of not watching many other birth videos beforehand so I wondered if my reactions were normal. But then another contraction would come and I would go into my own world.
I remember in our birthing class the nurse said that women can have all sorts of unusual emotions while in labor. I didn't believe this would happen to me since I like to think of myself as a fairly level-headed person. Boy was I wrong! I remember at one point getting annoyed at everything, I didn't want anyone touching me but I wanted their hands there for me to grab. I didn't want to be in the tub anymore but getting out sounded way worse. II also started to feel despair. I was falling asleep between contractions, how in the heck was I going to push out a baby? I have ran a marathon, biked 100 miles and completed triathlons. But being in labor was different kind of pain. But I continued to endure because I knew there would be eventually be a finish line with the best medal yet, a baby.
At one point, the midwife told me I needed to be getting to the toilet to pee. At this point,moving around intensified the pain and I was not having it. I didn't want to move, I wanted to stay in the tub which at least helped me relax between contractions But after them reminding me a couple times I begrudgingly got out and walked towards the bathroom. I stopped halfway there kneeling over in pain. When I finally made it to the toilet I couldn't sit down, my body just wouldn't let me. So I did what any sensible person would do and laid my towel on the floor to pee on.
I never had my cervix checked after the first time, but I have a feeling it was the last couple cm's that took longest to dilate. At around 12:00pm, I was still laying in the tub laboring when the midwife came over and told me I needed to get out and change my position to speed things along. She lightly said Cameron and I could dance. I remember hating that idea and just sadly saying "why?" But I knew she was right, if I wanted to get this baby out of me I had to do something different. I waited a couple more minutes to work up the courage and finally got out. Cameron and I held each other and swayed back and forth. Not long after getting into Cameron's arms I started dry-heaving. Turns out this was a sign I was in transition. Cameron and I continued to sway for awhile. we tried other positions but would always go back to the sway, I decided having Cameron nearby to frantically clench onto was the best option.
Knowing that my labor was taking awhile I started to feel pressure to get it over with. Both my sister-in-law and mother-in law had shown up a couple hours earlier to support me as well. Having 4 people there just to support me was awesome. But as time went on I started to feel pressure to perform. I think this further stressed my body making my labor stall. So as if reading my mind, the midwife asked everyone (except Cameron) to give me some privacy, Being there swaying with just Cameron helped ground me. Whenever a contraction would hit I would squeeze him and bend over. We swayed for at least half an hour when I started to feel more pressure, like I had really to go to the bathroom. I told the midwife this but she couldn't tell from my reactions if it was time to push. At the same time, I started to feel the babies head crowning, (though at the time I didn't believe it so I didn't tell anyone). Fortunately, It only took a couple more contractions of me bearing down while still standing for my water to break. So everyone else quickly knew what I knew, that this baby was ready to come!
Initially I wanted to give birth in the water, but the midwifes didn't think that was a good idea since my labor didn't progress very quickly in the tub. So I started pushing on hands and knees on the bed. Everyone says pushing is a relief, my experience was it is still pretty intense on the body but it does give your mind a boost. You finally have a job to do and you know that the end is near. After I moved to hands and knees, my contractions started to slow way down, happening every 5 minutes or so (at least that is what I was told, at this point everything, including time, was a blur). After a few contractions on the bed, they decided to get the birthing stool and change positions, After just one push on the birthing stool, Avery's head came out. I remember feeling so relieved but then got confused when they told me I had to push again for her body to come out. I thought I was done! But I did as told and Avery slipped out into Cameron's hands, red-faced and crying. I had been pushing for about 30 minutes when she finally arrived. He immediately handed her to me and I stopped caring about anything else.
While all my focus was on the perfect baby I just birthed, the midwifes were working to deliver my placenta. My uterus had stopped contracting like it should so the midwife had to manually do compressions to help stop the bleeding. Luckily, she knew what she was doing otherwise I may have ended up hemorrhaging. I did end up losing more blood than the average birth but at that point I didn't notice anything but my baby in my arms.
After my placenta was delivered and my bleeding had stopped, I was moved to the bed and with some help was able to get Avery to latch. While figuring out breastfeeding was more awkward than I imagined, when she did finally latch it was beautiful. I was then informed that I had some tearing that needed to get stitched up. I had done quite a bit of preparation while pregnant to try to avoid tearing so was a bit disappointed to hear I still tore. But I was also thankful it was only superficial and would heal relatively quickly. It could have been much worse.
For the next few hours we laid in bed while family came in to see Avery. At one point I tried to get up since I was told it would be good for me to use the restroom. As I worked my way to the side of the bed I thought I felt pretty good, so I stood up. Instantly, I started to feel like I was passing out, my vision became blurry, and my ears were ringing. Luckily both midwifes and Cameron were prepared and caught me. Turns out I had lost more blood that I realized so going to the bathroom in an actual toilet wan't going to be an option at the moment. That was fine by me, I was just thankful that my care team was so attentive and caring. I never had to worry about things going wrong the entire birth or during recovery. We waited until I could stand up without passing out and then ended up heading home that night around midnight, about 11 hours after I delivered.
Avery is named after the Avery Park in Corvallis, which is where Cameron and I met at, where we had our first date, and where he proposed. The day we met was also April 8th, 2010, exactly 8 years from the day she was born.