Honestly, I was kind of surprised by the skepticism I got when I told people I was going to do a natural childbirth.
Between people furrowing their eyebrows in confusion to saying “why would you ever do that” to saying “the epidural was the best thing to happen”, I was always just left to say “I just want to test my body and see what I’m capable of” even though there was so much more to it.
How do you tell someone that’s had an epidural that you believe it’s in the best interest of your baby having a vaginal birth if you go without meds? How do you tell a fellow Christian that you want to use this as an opportunity to connect with the Lord on a new way? Because none of those things are impossible if you do it the other way, it’s just simply how I wanted to go about it.
I knew it was an unconventional approach, but I was determined to at least try and was actually excited in the days leading up to birth to test my body.
Before l go into my birth story, here’s what I would suggest to prepare for the “pains and perils of childbirth” as my father says:
Childbirth in glory – so soothing and Christian based. They have bible verses and orchestral music throughout.
Hypnobabies CD – honestly this made me go to sleep, but I do think if to can get into it, it could help tremendously with a natural childbirth without pain meds by putting you into a state of deep relaxation.
Nancy Ray’s Labor and Delivery playlist on Spotify – she brings back the Christian jams from the 90s and I’m here for it.
My pre-webinar/ pump up jams playlist – I play this before I get on live webinars (because as entrepreneurs, we know how nerve-wracking it can be to have technology possibly not work + try to be upbeat + try to sell something).
Lindsey Roman’s LABOR playlist – this is what I actually listened to on repeat while I was laboring. It is 7.5 hours of encouraging and uplifting music.
After a 5 day/ 4 night hospital stay, I can tell you what is needed and what can be left behind. I will say, prepare for a week stay. You just never know. Most important? Your phone if you’re using those playlists, essential oils if you’re into that, a massage tool, a portable fan, water bottle, and snacks; you’re in this for the long haul and it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon (usually)! Here were the other things in case you’re curious:
Obviously I went in with the intention of an unmedicated, natural childbirth, however what I experienced was vastly different.
I started contractions at 9:30 pm on September 28 and planned to labor at home for as long as I could and then call my doula to help out and when I was 3-1-1 (contractions were 3 minutes apart, 1 minute in length, for 1 hour) we would go to the hospital, but God had other plans. The experience started out with the bloody show and I labored in the tub with contractions 5 minutes apart and then had another bloody show at 4 am. I was told to notify the nurse if this happened so I did. Because I was 41 weeks, they asked me to come in and get checked out. I took my sweet time making toast and avoiding going in. I just knew I wasn’t that far along.
Sam and I went to triage at 5 am on the 29th just to find out I was not very dilated (.5 cm to be exact). Baby wasn’t pushing on my cervix so I was contracting for no reason 👍 Usually you’d get sent home, but baby girl’s heart rate wasn’t great. The nurse said your baby is getting a B and I need her to get an A+ to send you home. This created a 48 hour journey of heart rate issues.
They decided to do low doses of Pitocin because of her heart rate. They wanted to be able to take it out at any time in case she didn’t respond well to it. But (curve ball) they couldn’t get any of my veins to work. After MUCH digging, they finally got the needle in and I was hopeful once again.
I labored for 24 hours and didn’t really progress a ton. I made it all the way to 2.5 cm 🤣 This whole time I had a nurse staring nonstop at the baby’s heart rate monitor. Her heart just wasn’t doing what it should (probably due to an old placenta being just as over it as I was). It would dip during contractions and not go up like they wanted. My body wanted to progress, but just couldn’t. It was so frustrating.
At this point it was the night of the 28th, I was exhausted, and all my tricks up my sleeve were beginning to not work (Christian music, foot massage from my doula with essential oils, focussing on my breath, nitrous oxide, different positions, etc.) In desperation I asked my midwife what choices I had to get some sleep since I figured I had at least another 12 hours of this. She said I could nap during the 2 minutes between contractions. That was enough for me to swallow what I had hoped for this labor, discuss my options with Sam, and decided for the sake of sleep to do an epidural. That thing is straight magic ✨ Time continued to tick on and I continued to not progress a ton so they put a Foley bulb in to help. At that point I was able to sleep and all I can say is PRAISE THE LORD! I was so hopeful that I would probably deliver a baby in the morning!
I want to pause here and talk about the AMAZING nursing staff around me. I seriously stand in complete awe of these individuals. They were at a job, yet the passion, compassion, and attentiveness they had for me was absolutely incredibly. My night nurse would come in and ask how our drama queen was doing. She always kept me smiling with her spitfire attitude and spunky personality. When she left the night shift the next morning she said “next time I see you, you will be holding a baby!”
Next time I saw her (12 hours later) I was still laboring and she handed me a gift and said “for our drama queen”. She had brought me lotion, baby wash, unicorn booties, and a tiara. Nurses really may be angels on Earth.
In the morning I was checked again and had progressed!! To 4 cm… talk about dejecting. I labored throughout the day without nearly as much intensity/ pain as the day prior (thanks back prick). And then all at once nurses, the anesthesiologist, and God knows who else, rushed in.
Baby had what I thought was a little heart deceleration at 8:30 am (later found out she went from 145 to 60 for 8 minutes) and my sweet nurse came in and tried flipping me into different positions to make it go up. As I continued moving positions, the flurry about the room happened and they prepped me for a C-Section. I wasn’t going to be awake for my daughter’s birth and my husband wasn’t going to be allowed in the OR. They gave me some medicine to help my uterus which was contracting at a rapid rate and put an internal heart rate monitor inside me which also broke my water. My nurse had me get on elbows and knees and I felt an instinct to get on my hands. I really feel the Lord compelled me to do this and almost immediately baby must have found a good spot and her heart rate returned to normal. Physically I was feeling great, but it was an intense 8 minutes with a lot of people in the room and I had been at it for 37 hours.
We had a sweet moment where my husband, doula, and I prayed over baby girl and it really helped me be at peace.
Now that my water broke, I was given a time frame of her needing to arrive the next 18 hours or I would need a C-Section. I tried everything to help this baby along. By 7:45 pm we had to talk about the inevitable. I would need to get a C-Section unless she turned. She was occiput posterior (sunny side up)and they were worried she couldn’t go much longer. I had another really bad dip (although I was able to help baby recover after 3 minutes) and at this point the surgeon came in and really tried to convince me it was in the best interest of baby girl to move forward with surgery.
With tears in my eyes I asked for some time to discuss it with my team. My midwife Charlie said “I really believe we don’t give baby’s enough credit. I truly think they can tell us what they need and I think your baby is trying to tell you something.” We prayed, I asked for one more hour of labor, and then made the final decision to head to the Operating Room.
An CRNA came in and explained to me in the most relaxing voice what was about to take place. She said it would seem like a flurry, but it was all okay. I was at peace with the decision and so very thankful I would be awake for baby girl’s entrance into the world (although I did at one point express my anxiety around how much this was going to cost. Typical Bekah).
I entered the OR and they weren’t lying. This crew had their act together. I cracked some joke about how they were more impressive than a race car pit stop team getting their tires changed. At one point I heard “hi Bekah”. My running buddy was my NICU nurse who would be one of the first to hold and check out baby girl. The Lord had his hand in my delivery in SO MANY WAYS. The procedure happened, baby girl was brought over to the warmer to be checked out, I heard her cry and had a deep sigh of relief, and my husband headed over there to talk to her.
Once he got over I yelled over “So do you like her? Should we keep her?” and I made everyone in the OR laugh 😂
My midwife was able to hold my hand as they continued the procedure and I told her we just need to continue talking so I don’t think about what is currently happening. I told her all about my marathons, honeymoon to Italy, and God knows what else. Finally Eliza Grace was brought to my chest and intently stared up at me. I couldn’t believe how much she looked like me as a newborn. And I couldn’t believe she was FINALLY here.
This has been the MOST helpful! I am sure there will be more ups and downs as I process the experience (after all it has only been a week), but having a midwife come process with me and discuss what ifs, etc. really helped me to come to the conclusion that there was nothing I could have done differently and it all worked out.
In the end, I wanted an experience with labor where I was able to connect with the Lord and my husband and deliver a healthy baby girl. I am so happy I got that.