Sabrina Isobel Martinez
Born at 3:39 pm August 29th
7 lbs. 14 oz
I had an extremely easy pregnancy with my second daughter. Morning sickness was mild and brief, the majority of my cravings were healthy foods (fruit, yogurt and granola) I excersised comfortably for a majority of the pregnancy and even moved into a new house at 38 weeks.
For some reason throughout my pregnancy I had the feeling that Sabrina would be born during the day, and past her due date- and that’s exactly what happened. At 42 weeks pregnant, I began to have contractions about 15-20 minutes apart. They continued for an entire day without picking up, but were mild enough that they didn’t really bother me.
When I went to bed that night Laila refused to sleep without her hand on my belly, she even woke up several times in the night to sit up, look at my belly, rub it, and then go back to sleep with her little hand resting on my belly button.
I didn’t sleep that much, as the contractions began to intensify a little and Sabrina was kicking and stretching most of the night.
The next morning I woke up and was thinking to myself how many days past my due date I was, and how miserable my inevitable induction would be.
Laila however didn’t feel like laying in bed anymore and pulled me into our bathroom to brush teeth before I could give any more thought to it.
It was while we were brushing our teeth that I felt a warm gush. At first I thought I had peed myself but then I quickly realized it was something else. I ran to the toilet and realized I had lost my mucus plug. Although losing the mucus plug isn’t an immediate sign of labor, I felt that losing mine did mean that labor was near.
I put on a pad and called my mom and husband to let them know that I thought labor was near. My contractions picked up that morning and I began packing my hospital bag when they hit five minutes apart.
I went into the hospital and was hooked up to a monitor and was given a cervical check. I hate doctors, hospitals, anything medical, so I immediately began to feel nervous and my contractions slowed back to ten minutes apart until they completely stopped. I was discharged and went home so frustrated, convinced that I had stopped my labor and would definitely end up with an induction.
Once in the car my contractions started back up. Over the next few hours they intensified but I ignored them, thinking that if I returned to the hospital they would probably stall out again.
I tried going to bed that night, but as the contractions intensified I couldn’t even lay down comfortably in bed. Finally I decided to count them and they were about seven minutes apart. They continued at seven minutes until about five in the morning when they hit five minutes apart and began to intensify a little more.
I decided to call the hospital and ask if I should come back in. They told me to come back in so I went ahead and woke up my husband, had some breakfast and then called my mom to come over and watch Laila.
When we got to the hospital I was already at six centimeters.
I hate hospitals, and I hate the idea of giving birth in a hospital, but unfortunately homebirth wasn’t an option for me, so I was very focused on making my labor/birth as unhospital like as possible.
Once I was in my room, I dimmed the lights, turned on the tv and pretended I was in a hotel room. A nurse brought me a tray of fruit to snack on and I brought my own snacks as well. I stayed hydrated by eating ice chips and drinking a mixture of coconut water and lime juice (a natural electrolyte) instead of being hooked up to an IV. A lot of doctors tell their patients not to eat when in labor. Not only is it torture for a pregnant woman to go hungry all day, but labor is physically exhausting and a woman needs food to keep her body energized. My midwife advised me to snack on light, but high protein foods during labor. I ate almonds, fruit, granola, and scrambled eggs. I had so much more energy compared to my last labor.
Another regular medical procedure I declined was continuos fetal monitoring. IVs make movement difficult, but a fetal monitor strapped to your belly via one giant itchy piece of Velcro makes it impossible. Instead of continuous monitoring, a nurse would come in about every 25 minutes and check the heartbeat with a Doppler.
I also would have declined hourly cervical checks for a laundry list of reasons, (they’re uncomfortable, unnecessary, and dilation isn’t an indication of how fast labor will go) but cervical checks weren’t something the midwife routinely did for the very reasons I just listed.
Besides the nurse coming in to check the heartbeat and the midwife coming in to discuss my birth plan with me, I was spent the entire labor just me and my husband. Our room was quiet and relaxing. We just watched tv and I moved through my contractions. I almost forgot I was in the hospital.
By about three I clock my contractions were two minutes apart and I was beginning to wonder if I would be able to go through with a natural birth. I didn’t know if I was ready to push, I didn’t feel that pressure to push the baby out, but I felt like my contractions were right on top of eachother and that it was time to have the baby. I called the midwife and told her how I felt. I asked her to make sure I was dilated and ok to push because I wasn’t sure what that was supposed to feel like. She checked me and I was fully dilated, but had an anterior cervical lip (not uncommon) and my water wasn’t breaking. My options were to continue to wait for the water to break or to let her break my water for me.
At first I declined having my water broken, but then another contraction came and the midwife told me that once my water broke, I would be ready to push. I decided to go ahead and have my water broken. Within minutes I was ready to push.
For me, laying or even sitting during labor was impossible, it took contractions from being extremely uncomfortable, to being downright painful.
I don’t know if I called the midwife to the room or she heard me cry out from the last contraction but the next thing I knew I was on the bed asking if they had a birthing bar. There was one attached to the bed that she pulled up for me. I quickly realized that I didn’t want to use it because I would have to be in a ten to fifteen minute squat while pushing the baby and I was way too tired for that having been pacing since about 9 pm the night before. I decided to lean against the head of bed and push. I started pushing and I could feel Sabrina moving down. About halfway I got scared and stopped. With my first daughter, she was turned wrong and I pushed for nearly four hours. I was so scared that would happen with Sabrina again.
The midwife reassured me that Sabrina was moving, and I wouldn’t be pushing for much longer. Relieved, I pushed again and she crowned. I held her there and waited for the next contraction, bit down on the mattress (weird, but it really helped) and pushed as hard as I could and she was out.
As I pushed I was surprised that the “ring of fire” wasn’t nearly as painful as I had expected. Even though I tore a little in the front, the whole thing felt like a pinch. During the last month of the my pregnancy I did perineal massage and I really think that made the difference. I also learned from another midwife about slow crowing – waiting for another contraction after the baby crowns – to allow everything to stretch and prevent tearing.
I couldn’t believe how easy the pushing had been. The nurse next to me tapped my shoulder and said, “look down, there’s your baby”. Looking up at me with the most beautiful grey eyes and a head full of curly hair was my little Sabrina. I scooped her up in my arms and layed down on the bed while we waited for the for the umbilical cord to stop pulsating. I went to feed her and she latched perfectly. Eder cut the cord and we stayed in the room unbothered for about an hour so the three of us could bond.
I’m so glad I chose the midwife and the hospital I did. Care providers make such a difference. Natural birth was an amazing experience. The labor and birth were more peaceful and the recovery was quicker and much less painful. In fact when I was discharged I got up, did my hair and make up and wore a cute dress home. Just a week later I was hardly bleeding and felt good enough to resume most of my normal activities, which include chasing a toddler.
In my experience OBGYNs and midwives view birth very differently. Sheila Stubbs said, “The midwife sees the miracle of childbirth as normal and tends to leave it alone unless there’s trouble. The obstetrician normally sees it as trouble and if he leaves it alone, it’s a miracle.” Very true. Childbirth is definitely a miracle, something intimate and incredibly special to be shared between the mother and father with as little intervention as possible. Every woman remember her birthing experience(s) for a lifetime. It’s been almost a month now, but no matter how much time passes I’ll certainly never forget how amazing giving birth to Sabrina was.