Baby Cole has arrived!
And *drum roll* we have a DAUGHTER!
Carsyn Quinn Cole has graced us with her presence and we are forever changed and grateful.
I had the absolute best birth experience I could have ever hoped or dreamed of. I know this is not the case for many women – my entire pregnancy was filled with women telling me about their own birthing horror stories and really making it sound like the worst thing they’ve ever experienced. I am writing this blog post with the intention that by sharing my birth story, other women will feel empowered to listen to their gut during pregnancy and labor/delivery and ultimately be able to have the birth of their dreams.
My goals for her birth were to get her here as safely as possible and I wanted to remain flexible to what my body would tell me it needed in the process of labor and delivery. So if an epidural was necessary, I wouldn’t be too proud to take it; however, my plan going in was for everything to be as natural as possible. “Natural” here meaning no outside medical intervention for pain relief, just relying on what good old Mother Nature and the wisdom of my female body would provide. I opted for a hospital birth for the simple fact that this is what my insurance covered and since it was my first time giving birth, I wanted to feel as safe as possible that if anything went sideways, I would have quick access to everything I needed.
For anyone who wants the “stats” of the labor process, I’ll include the cliff notes version here at the beginning. If you’re someone who would prefer to read the magical details of my experience, keep scrolling!
Labor & Delivery Stats:
- 10 hours in labor, from what I perceived to be the start until the baby was born.
- All of the intense parts of labor were experienced at home
- 1.5 hours of pushing, if that, once we got to the hospital
- 1 baby born, 8 lbs 4 oz, and 1 gigantic placenta that was roughly 10 lbs.
- 3 people present, aside from myself and nurses/doctor, to witness our baby’s first breath of life.
- 0 epidurals, 0 Pitocin during labor, 0 medical intervention for pain management during labor
- 1 happy mother, father, and baby.
Story of my Labor & Delivery:
I was 5 days overdue and it felt like an eternity that I was waiting for our precious bundle to decide to arrive. I think what finally put the show on the road was using a breast pump, at the recommendation of one of my cousins. I used it for 30 minutes the night before I went into full labor and noticed that I was able to get some contractions going but nothing that was very painful or long lasting. I went to bed and the next morning woke up at 5:55 am to pee and just knew something was different about the way I felt. I wasn’t having noticeable contractions yet, but something just felt different. A sense of knowing that today was probably the day. I laid back down and couldn’t get comfortable at all. I had small twinges of pain, but nothing that had me screaming or crying. I used my hypnobirthing techniques and anytime I felt like I wanted to cringe and brace myself for the pain, I released every muscle in my body and breathed through it. This method was what I used for the majority of my labor experience.
I labored entirely at home, although I didn’t know that until I arrived at the hospital fully dilated. The contractions came in waves and I was able to rest and breathe between the short painful pangs. Austyn began writing down times of my contractions and duration of contractions. I started bleeding and we decided to call the advice nurse to make sure it was the type of bleeding in line with labor and not a sign of a problem. The advice nurse congratulated us and told me that essentially it was all normal and unless I was ready for the epidural, to buckle up and keep laboring at home until my water broke or contractions were closer together. At this time they were roughly 7-10 minutes apart, or at least that’s how it seemed.
I spent most of the time laboring between the toilet, the couch, and the bathtub/shower. Sitting on the toilet has always been my personal go to for horrendous period cramps so I knew this would alleviate some of the pressure and cramping I was feeling. I had Austyn draw me a warm bath, which helped amazingly. Sitting down in the tub was challenging, but being on all fours while he ran water over my back from a cup was heavenly and seemed to really help my hips feel open and ready. I decided to take a shower so I would feel clean when it was time to go the the hospital. Standing in the shower with the hot water rushing on my back and holding onto the shower curtain rod really helped alleviate the discomfort I was feeling. So did moaning during the contractions. Austyn was focused on keeping himself busy but available for me as I needed, and anytime I groaned in pain he told me “You’re in the home stretch! You’ve got this!” All I kept thinking was “He has no idea at all where I’m at, I could be 5 cm dilated and still have the worst ahead of me!” But, wouldn’t fate have it, he was completely right about where I was at in my laboring process.
There was a point after the shower where I was going back and forth between the couch and the toilet, walking through my contractions to make sure they were strong enough to warrant going to the hospital without being sent home – and I had the overwhelming urge to push. I didn’t even have to think about it or question it, my body was saying “Push!” So I did. I thought maybe I had to poop and figured it would be better to do that at home than all over the hospital bed! After a few minutes of “intense” contractions and my body deciding to push I figured I should just touch down there to see what it felt like. I felt something like a water balloon coming out and after Austyn did some investigating, we realized the amniotic sac was making its way out. After a quick call to the advice nurse, we decided it was go time.
The drive to the hospital was uncomfortable, but not the worst thing I’ve ever experienced. I closed my eyes and breathed through it all, holding Austyns hand and hearing him repeatedly say “This is it! We are going to meet our baby!” gave me the strength I needed to make it to my next safe place where I knew I would eventually birth our baby. I prayed and prayed that I would be dilated enough to be admitted and that this process wouldn’t take me into the next day. I just kept thinking that I needed to conserve my energy during the drive because I had no clue how much laboring was still ahead of me.
After getting into a wheelchair and being taken upstairs to labor and delivery, they got me on a bed and checked me out right quick. It was maybe 2-2:30 or so. My contractions seemed to have slowed down and I wasn’t in as much pain as I had been in before. I was scared that my labor had slowed and that they would be sending me home. After the doctor confirmed I had not wanted an epidural and checked my cervix, she let me know I was fully dilated and that whenever I was ready I was allowed to start pushing.
I was shocked.
I looked at her and said, “Wait, that was it? I thought I was going to be sent home!” The hospital staff all giggled and told me to knock it off, that I had to be in pain. I wasn’t. And the pain I felt during my time laboring at home was NOTHING like the movies had shown and nothing like other women had told me. It was like the worst period cramps I’ve ever experienced, which have been bad… but I thought it was going to be worse. I genuinely believe hypnobirthing had a role to play in my lack of a painful labor experience.
They hooked me up to the monitors to see my contractions and watch the baby’s heart rate and I just hung out and breathed through any little pains I felt. By this point the most intense part of labor was over and I actually didn’t know I was having contractions. I just thought my back hurt from laying down and that I had to poop still. It was no where near what I expected pushing contractions to feel like. I was talking with the nurses and showing off my vagina nails and, unbeknownst to me, I was having contractions every 2-3 minutes.
After my sister, Brooklyn, and Gemma showed up I knew I was ready to get the baby out. Brooklyn had walked into the room and the baby was already crowning. I had been passively pushing, but nothing intense at all. The pressure in my lower back and butt were annoying enough that I decided I was done and wanted to get this baby out. I confirmed the sensations I was having were in fact contractions, because I could barely feel them, and then had the nurses instruct me in pushing and breathing. This is where I deviated from the hypnobirthing curriculum in that I didn’t want to entirely breathe the baby out. I listened to my body and knew that I wanted to push.
When it was time, Austyn held one thigh and our amazing nurse held the other up to my chest and I pushed for what felt like 20-30 minutes. The pressure in my pelvis was all I could feel. I could tell the baby was close. I buckled down, decided this was it, and prayed that the baby would shoot out. A few more pushes and she did just that. I could feel all the pressure in my body fully release and the feeling of her head and body leaving mine was the most intense and euphoric release I’ve ever experienced, aside from an outright orgasm. (Sorry not sorry, but that’s the truth!)
I felt the rush of fluids leave my body and heard Austyn excitedly announce, “It’s a girl!” as they lifted our daughter and put her on my chest. I was in a state of outright shock, excitement, and sheer euphoria. I couldn’t cry or think or do anything besides hold my daughter and soak her in. She was finally here and she was the girl Austyn and I both always thought we would have, even though my whole family had me thinking she was a boy. Austyn cut the cord and began our daughter’s journey of independence from the close connection we had shared the past 10 months. My whole body felt like it was floating in this moment where it was just me, Austyn, and Carsyn.
The nurses instructed me on how to breastfeed and Carsyn latched right away. I had torn during the delivery and needed some stitches so I opted for the drugs now that I had accomplished my dream birth plan. I also hemorrhaged after the delivery of my gargantuan placenta, which they said was roughly 10 lbs before they bagged it up for me. None of that mattered though. She was worth every needle prick and stitch I endured afterward. Which, even through the fentanyl, was more painful than the entirety of birthing her was.
The nurses in the delivery room kept telling me to not tell other women how painless my first birth was, or how quick. They joked that other women would be so upset to hear about my experience because it was just not the norm, even more so because it was my first baby. And while those comments stoked my ego and further confirmed that I truly am a birthing goddess that I always hoped I would be, I think other women deserve to know that their own birthing experiences, whether it’s your first or fifth time, can also be as miraculous and beautiful as the birth I experienced.