Laura Palmquist: Our Birth Story, August 1st- August 4th 2012.
I finally decided to go to sleep about 11:30 on July 31st. I was just a few days away from my due date of August 5th and feeling pretty good for being so pregnant! I was prepared to wait for this baby to come whenever she was ready even if that had me waiting until 42 weeks. I climbed into bed about 11:45 p.m. I was just in that perfect state of drifting off but still aware of what was going on when “POP,” out of nowhere, a huge gush! I knew immediately my water had just broken. I got up and said, “My water just broke!” and started walking to the bathroom. My husband jumped out of bed so fast he almost beat me to the bathroom. I sat on the toilet, and my husband asked if I was sure, and I was. He started changing our sheets while I called our midwife, Linda. She asked me the standard set of questions about the color, and if there was any smell, and if I was having any contractions. Water was clear, with no smell, and no contractions. She told me it might be hard, but to go back to sleep, I will need my rest. I called my doula, mom, and best friend to put them on alert. And as hard as it was, I went back to sleep. It was about 12:30 when I crawled back into bed. I was surprised that I was asleep pretty fast, and slept pretty well. I woke up about 6 a.m. to what was my very first contraction. I had a few contractions that were short in length, and weak. I fell back to sleep and got up about 8 a.m. I was not having any contractions. My midwife called to check on me that morning and asked me to call if anything changed but to plan on coming in later that afternoon for my regularly scheduled appointment.
I had a few contractions on and off during the day. I went on a long walk, ate good food, and generally tried to keep busy and rest at the same time. I went to my appointment at 4:30 and talked to my midwife about how I was feeling. We talked about how I was very blessed to have tested GBS negative so that was one less issue to be concerned about. My temp was great, as was my blood pressure. We had not done any vaginal exams at any point in my pregnancy and my midwife said with my water broken they were not a good idea until I was in active labor as they could introduce bacteria and increase my chance of infection. She did say if I really wanted an exam she would give me one but she advised against it. I asked about the transfer policy and how long she would let me go with my water broken. Linda was great! She told us the general policy they have is a mother in labor by 48 hours, baby born in 72 hours. We asked about if we had not had the baby in 72 hours but were in active labor if she would make us transfer. She said she would not as long as baby and I had no signs of infection or distress. She gave us instructions to take my temperature every four hours and write it down and the time we took it. She told us to call if it went up or if we felt less kicks. She also told us to look at the pads whenever I changed them to make sure the water was still clear and had no smell. We talked about options for trying to kickstart contractions. We were offered misoprostol as an option and declined it at this time. We wanted to give my body as much time as we needed. I knew my body was made to do this. My husband and I both had great faith that labor would start on its own. My midwife was great with that and told me to relax and let my body do what it needs to do.
We went home and called our doula to update her on how our appointment went and what we were thinking. We tried to have as normal of a night as possible. We went to bed at the normal time and got a good night of sleep. I woke up early that morning, about 5:30 again with a few contractions but nothing too exciting. We decided to go to breakfast that morning and then get started on trying to get labor to actually start. We bought red raspberry leaf tea and lots of pineapple. I really freaked the lady out at the supplements store. When we asked where the tea was she asked if I was overdue; I told her “No, my water had broken” and she looked at me with big eyes and told me how I “needed to be at the hospital” and I “had to have the baby within 24 hours of my water breaking.” Little did she know I was already over 24 hours from it breaking! I was annoyed by her reaction, but managed to keep my cool and just told her I was following my provider’s advice. I went home and had a whole pineapple and several cups of tea. We also tried nipple stimulation which my amazing doula suggested.
By about 2 p.m. that day, just about 38 hours after my water had broken, and still no contractions, we started to feel like labor was never going to start. My doula came over and talked to us more about our options. She listened to our fears of inducing with misoprostol. My husband and I talked and prayed together about what we should do next and how long we should wait for labor to start on its own. Waiting was so hard but praying made me feel so much better. I was feeling fine physically and baby was doing great. I knew if I trusted the process that we would be just fine. We called and talked to the midwife and we agreed we would wait until the next day and if we still had not started contractions we would take the misoprostol.
The next morning came and I was still pregnant and labor was nowhere to be found! We called Linda and set a time later that morning to meet at the birth center to get the misoprostol. She gave me four doses of 25mg each and told me to take one and call her in four hours with an update on how I was doing. I went home and took the first pill and within a few hours I started having contractions.
By about noon that day August 3rd I was excited I was having contractions! They did not seem very intense or long so about 4 hours after I took the first dose I took the second. This is when things started to really pick up! I started having some much more intense and longer contractions. By about 9 p.m. that night I asked my husband to call our doula and have her come over. When she got there things seemed to slow down which she said was pretty normal. She brought some essential oils with her and did some massage on some of my pressure points to help things keep moving along. I bounced on my ball with her supporting me while my husband got a few hours of sleep. After he woke up we sent her home as things seemed to be slowing down. I stayed on the couch while having contractions and trying to get some much needed rest. By about 5 a.m. that morning the contractions were really intense, and getting closer together. We decided to call her back to join us. I continued to labor at home with their help while things got more and more intense.
By about 8 a.m. that morning August 4th I had been laboring all night, and contractions were about 4-5 minutes apart and lasting a minute plus. We called the midwife and decided to meet her at the birth center. This is the first time I had a vaginal exam my whole pregnancy/labor. I was disappointed to only be 1cm dilated. We headed home and I continued to labor through really intense and long contractions. Many of the contractions were lasting a minute and a half to two whole minutes and by afternoon were coming one on top of the other! I was having a really hard time and I remember at one point saying “I just need some drugs, give me some drugs.” My doula looked at me, and nicely asked me why I had not wanted an epidural. I told her the reasons and I never asked for drugs again! My doula encouraged us to pray together, and praying with my husband gave me some renewed hope that I was created to do this. Later that afternoon, we went back to the birth center to check on my progress and see if we were ready to be there for the birth. I was checked for only the second time and found to be 3cm dilated. At this time the midwife gave us the option to stay or go home to continue laboring. We decided to head back home again. It was about 4 in the afternoon at this point.
I went home and continued to labor through very intense contractions. It was about 7 p.m. when I started getting a “pushy” feeling. We quickly called the midwife to meet us at the birth center. She was at the center with another mom in labor and told us to head straight there. We were only a 5 minute drive from the birth center and when we arrived about 7:20 I was put into a small waiting room to labor while Linda delivered the other baby! I was having some really intense urges to push and my body was pushing. I was told not to push with it and just let my body do what it needed to do. At about 8:30 or so Linda checked me for the 3rd time and I was 6cm. I was so happy that this was the real deal! My contractions were intense, and resisting the urge to push was the hardest part. Linda was concerned that I might get cervical swelling pushing too soon, so I continued to just let my body push but not push with it. I was finally able to move to the birth suite and get into the birth tub at about 9:00 p.m. The urge to push was so intense, and I was having a really hard time with contractions one on top of the other and my body pushing even though I was not 10cm. After what seemed like an eternity in the tub I asked my midwife to check me again as the pushing was getting stronger and lasting longer. She did, and I was at 10cm! I started actively pushing at 10:56 p.m.
I was so excited when I was able to start pushing. What a relief to start working with my body. Pushing for me was the best part. It seemed easy, and mostly pain-free compared to all those contractions. I was so ready to be done, and I just kept pushing as much as I could when contractions hit. At one point, you could see the top of her head, and my midwife asked her assistant to get the mirror and asked if I wanted to see and feel. I was so exhausted I said “No, I want to keep pushing and get this baby out!” But I did reach down and feel for a second before the next contraction hit. I remember my midwife telling me to take a break and not push during my next contraction, but I was so ready to be done and I pushed anyway! She was afraid I was going to tear as I was pushing really hard and fast. Baby girl came out and I will never forget Linda saying, “Laura reach down and grab your baby!” It was the most amazing moment in my life! We had done it. She was born just 26 minutes after I started actively pushing and at 11:21 p.m. August 4th just shy of 96 hours from my water breaking. She was 8lbs 8oz and 20 inches long. A perfect baby girl.
Reflection on my birth
My birth did not at all go how I thought it would, or planned for it to go. Waiting for nearly 96 hours for my daughter to be born after my water breaking was very hard. I never could have made it through those 4 days if it was not for my faith. I believe God created my body perfectly in his image and I knew I could birth my baby without a bunch of interventions. When I found out I was pregnant I knew I wanted to have a natural birth because I trusted that God created me to do this and he would give me the strength to bring my baby into this world in the most natural way possible. My husband shares my faith and he had so much confidence in me and my ability to give birth. My doula was such an amazing support person and I know they were both my gift from God, and helped me in my times of doubt. While my birth did not go as I thought it would, it was still an amazing birth. It brought me closer to God, and to my husband. It taught me that I can do anything, and I can lean on God and my husband for the support I need.
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