As many of our friends and family know, Brandon I decided to use the Bradley Method for childbirth way before children were even on our radar. I took a women's studies class while at Wesleyan that led to a discussion with Brandon at the time (and many subsequent discussions) and ultimately the decision to use Bradley. The Bradley Method focuses on husband-coached relaxation techniques with the goal of a completely unmedicated childbirth experience. Also, based on conversations with friends (mainly my friend Whitney) and our research, I knew that I wanted to have a water birth. These were decisions we made long before we knew we were pregnant.
As soon as I found out I was pregnant, Brandon and I began praying for our unborn child. We prayed for his (at the time, of course, we didn't know the gender) health, his happiness, his intelligence, his salvation, and anything else we could think of.
Pretty immediately I attempted to find a Bradley class in our area. Unfortunately, the closest class was an hour away, and that just did not fit with our schedule. So, Brandon and I purchased the Bradley materials from Amazon and set out to teach ourselves.
I also attempted to start the Brewer Diet (recommended to go hand in hand with Bradley Method) right away, but morning sickness and a hyper-aversion to eggs hindered that somewhat. However, when I was able, I tried to stick to the diet pretty closely. The main thing with the Brewer Diet is getting enough protein (I shot for 80-100 grams per day). It was difficult to do, but I am so glad I did. (More on why that protein paid off later.)
Early on, we visited the Family Birth Center at the Medical Center of Central Georgia. We were very excited to learn that the Medical Center was starting a program facilitating water births. They were in the process of purchasing birthing pools with disposable liners that could be rented. This meant that we would not have to be responsible for purchasing our own pool and setting it up, which was a huge relief.
At 20 weeks we found out we were having a boy (yay!).
Skipping ahead a good bit, I made it all the way to 40 weeks with Eli on Tuesday, April 4, and I had a doctor's appointment the day after my due date, Wednesday, April 5. At the appointment, I faced some disappointments. First, I was supposed to meet with one of the two midwives with whom I had developed a very good relationship. Both midwives were unavailable (they were delivering babies!) so I had to meet with one of the doctors I had not seen since my 12 week appointment. She told me that there had not been much progress from the 39 week appointment, but Eli was stationed well (about -1) and I was 3 cm dilated, so he was ready to go at any time. However, because I was past my due date, she wanted to schedule me for an induction the next week. I'm not going to lie, I was pretty upset. To most people, it will seem very silly that I was upset over the simple possibility of being induced, but my goal all along was to have an unmedicated birth experience. Not only was I facing the very real possibility of needing Pitocin, I also knew from research that when Pitocin is introduced, contractions are much stronger and most women end up receiving some type of pain medication.
(Side note: Brandon was a champ of a Bradley coach. He went to every single appointment and served as my rock. But more on that later.) Brandon knew I was really upset after the appointment and tried to encourage me. We prayed that the baby would come when he was ready and we asked God to give us a safe delivery with a healthy baby in whatever way that needed to happen. I was already eating a load of pineapple, drinking (at that point) 3 cups of red raspberry leaf tea per day, and walking, so I kept up the routine. I even had a pedicure because I read somewhere that the foot massage often induces labor. (The pedicure was a real sacrifice on my part, but I was trying to do what was best for the baby. haha)
|Beginning at 36 weeks I drank one cup of raspberry leaf tea per day. At 38 weeks I kicked it up to 2 a day and at 39 weeks 3 a day.|
I had been experiencing Braxton Hicks contractions for several days, and on Friday morning, March 7, the contractions started back up again. I walked on the treadmill hoping to get something going. After I walked, I took care of a few housekeeping matters (I made homemade laundry detergent haha), and the contractions stopped. I actually texted Brandon around lunch time that the contractions had stopped so I figured it was just false labor again. Giving in to an old wives' tale, I decided to eat something spicy for lunch in hopes of triggering labor. I ate lunch and decided to walk again afterwards. As I was putting on my tennis shoes about 1:00, I had a pretty strong contraction. I decided to wait and see if I had another one. Six minutes later, I had a another strong contraction and six minutes after that another. I texted Brandon that I was having pretty strong contractions six minutes apart and that I was going to get a shower but he should not leave work yet. When I got out of the shower, the contractions were five minutes apart. I called Brandon and asked him to come home. Brandon pretty much flew home and by the time he arrived the contractions for about four minutes apart and ninety seconds long.
Our plan had been to labor at home for several hours and then leave for the hospital once my contractions were four minutes apart. Needless to say, our plans were moot. We threw everything in the car and drove the hospital as soon as Brandon arrived home.
When we got in the car, the radio was on, and the song playing? "Best Day of my Life" by the American Authors. Brandon and I shared a smile and agreed that, yes, it was going to be the best day of our lives.
When we got to the hospital at 1:50, my contractions were three minutes apart. I was dilated 5 cm so they put me in a room pretty quickly. I was informed that my midwife, Jessica was on the way.
When Jessica arrived, I was in a lot of pain. Brandon had been coaching me through the contractions like a champ, but I was ready to get in the pool. As a result of some miscommunications, the hospital staff was giving me a hard time about using a pool. Thank the Lord Jessica is the person who wrote the plan for use of birthing pools at the Med Center so she was able to work her magic and get me moved to a room that could accommodate a pool. By the time my pool was ready I was well into transition contractions and was 6-7 cm dilated. I got in the pool about 5:00 and Brandon continued to coach me through the contractions. When I tell y'all that that man was a champ, I mean it. He coached my breathing, made sure I was drinking water, rubbed my head, rubbed my back, did whatever I needed him to do. He was my rock through that delivery.
I started pushing around 8:00 and my water broke at 8:44. Insane, right? Protein! I am telling you. So many people told me that eating a lot of protein was a huge factor in making it full term and keeping the bag of waters in tack and they were right. Just a few pushes after my water broke, my sweet Eli was born at 8:55.
Jessica put him in my arms and I fell immediately in love. I will never, ever forget the look on my sweet baby's face or how I felt the first time I held him. There was something so magical about that moment. All of the pain, all of the tiredness, it all disappeared. All that mattered at that moment was that I was holding my sweet little tiny.
We waited for his umbilical cord to finish pulsing and then Brandon cut the cord (scared to death).
I got out of the pool and I held Eli skin to skin while Jessica did all of my post-labor unpleasantness. (The weak stomached can skip the next line.) Thankfully, in line with my birth plan, I did not have an episiotomy, but I did have a tear that needed stitches.
We were given our "magic hour" of just mommy, baby, and daddy time. Brandon held Eli and my heart melted into a little puddle on the ground. I could tell instantly that he was going to be the world's greatest daddy.
When our hour was over, the nurse came in to weigh and measure Eli. He was 7 lbs, 12.9 oz and 21.25 inches long.
|Just a few minutes old|
|Our wonderful midwife, Jessica|
|Daddy and Eli|
I praise God that my labor and delivery experience was a good one. I have very fond memories of the entire experience; as odd as it sounds, I can say with honesty that I enjoyed my labor experience (as much as one can "enjoy" labor). When you're pregnant, everyone loves to tell you horror stories about labor and delivery, but it honestly does not have to be a scary, horrible experience.
Please stay tuned to our blog as we attempt to update it each month with little Eli's progress.
Until next time...