Bash was due in the late spring, right on the cusp of summer. As a teacher, I was pretty pumped that the timing was so perfect. I’d planned on using the whole summer as my maternity leave, since I didn’t have any paid maternity leave at the private school I taught at.
His due date was May 26, 2017. I knew from our Bradley Method classes that he would probably be late; first babies often are. The average woman goes into labor at 41 weeks and 1 day, and the due date is usually marked at 40 weeks.
So it wasn’t a surprise when May 26 came and went with no labor signs. I was patient for about 5 days after his due date. When we hit June and I was still pregnant though, I was done. No more pregnancy for me, please. I would like to have a baby, thanks. I’m pretty sure that extra week after my due date lasted about 6 months. I’d been preparing and preparing, and I just needed to starting doing.
It didn’t help that I never even felt any pre-labor pains. No Braxton-Hicks. Nothing. No signs to indicate labor was near.
I had an appointment with one of our midwives that week to check on baby and make sure they were fine in there. I remember that it was with our favorite of the 4 midwives at the hospital where we planned to give birth. I so hoped that Amy would be the one to help deliver my baby. She said that she was going to be on call that weekend, and that she would be surprised if we didn’t arrive ready to have a baby by the end of the weekend.
She left me with tentative hope that she would be right, but I was too afraid to get my hopes up! I went in for an ultrasound to check the amniotic fluid the day before I went into labor. I remember seeing the arrival of those results for the ultrasound in my online account when we were still in the hospital during our 24 hour stay after Bash’s birth.
I didn’t end up having any extra medical measures to help the process along. I didn’t have my membranes stripped or anything. There was lots of raspberry leaf tea and exercising happening in the Hoffman house though. And, well, *ahem* other things as well to try and get that ball rolling. I’m sure all of that helped, but I hadn’t done anything special for 24 hours before I woke up in early labor on June 3.
When I woke up on Saturday (June 3) at 5am feeling different, I wasn’t sure what it was. But at 10 months pregnant, of course I had to pee. And that’s where I discovered I was losing my mucus plug. I wasn’t 100% certain it was labor. I’d never done this before, right? I couldn’t sleep any more with all that apprehension making me alert though, so I sat on the couch with my phone (I had downloaded some app to help track contractions), watched Friends for a couple hours, and tracked what I thought were contractions. They were little more than twinges at that point, so I wasn’t even sure they were contractions. I figured if I tracked the “twinges”, and they were coming regularly for more than 2 hours, I would wake Kyle up to tell him I was in labor.
He was so excited when I woke him up and told him. I remember he jumped out of bed and said he wanted to make us some Breakfast Potatoes (our go-to weekend breakfast) and then mow the lawn (because who knew when he’d next get the chance?).
Yep. I tell him I’m in labor and his first thought is that he wants to mow the lawn. Stand back ladies! He’s taken.
Anywho, we ate a leisurely breakfast, all the while contractions came regularly, but not painfully at all. I was able to shower. Finished packing. I blow-dried and straightened my hair for heaven’s sake. The contractions started to feel painful that afternoon, around 3 or so. We’d been prepared for this though with our classes. I walked. Napped. Watched TV. Went to Walmart that evening around 5 (Kyle needed snacks).
The contractions were painful, but nothing unbearable for most of Saturday. We called the hospital when my contractions were 8 minutes apart and decided to go ahead and drive the 45 minutes to the hospital.
When we got into the car, I hit active labor. That’s where they really kicked into gear. They started to feel like what I’d expected contractions to feel like. For me, the clear sign that this was active labor was that I didn’t even make it to the car before I threw up.
To Kyle’s credit, he took care of me. There was no freaking out or gagging. He held it together, grabbed some paper towels and a small trash bin in case I threw up again on the way to the hospital. The nausea was something that only got worse throughout the rest of labor.
When the contractions were easy and I was at home, I was mainly just excited and nervous. It kind of felt like almost any other Saturday. Then, when the nausea hit and we went to the hospital, I remember the anxiety that my labor was going to take forever being in the forefront of my mind. It had already been like 18 hours and my water still hadn’t broke! I was barely dilated when they checked me in.
Plus, this hospital had a new, really nice natural birthing suite that was available to those who wanted to avoid medical interventions. It was where I particularly wanted to be because I knew the pressure for medical interventions wouldn’t even be an option if we were in that room. If there was an emergency, they could easily move us out. But, otherwise, once we were in that room, my natural birth course was basically set. I kept worrying that my blood pressure would be too high (even though it had been totally normal my whole pregnancy) or something else would happen that would keep us from being able to be in the birthing suite.
We had texted my parents, who were planning to come up for the baby’s birth and drive the 12 hours to our house or the hospital the second we gave them the word. None of us had really planned on them making it in time for the baby’s birth. We had just thought they could be there pretty quick after or be there to help that first week.
But, low and behold, they left around 3pm on June 3, arrived at the hospital around 1 am on June 4, and my water still hadn’t even broken. The nurses were preparing me for the strong possibility that they were going to break my water for me that morning (24 hours after my labor had started), when it finally happened on its own. And after that, I was just trying to take it one contraction at a time. I think 3 hours after my water broke is when I finally had them call my midwife in.
Standing or sitting in the hot shower was the best pain management technique for me. And I tried them all. I spent pretty much all of my active labor in the shower. In fact, I hadn’t been planning on a water birth because I just didn’t think it was for me. But I had researched all about them before making that choice.
It was a good thing I had done my research because the shower felt so good I changed my mind on the spot. If at all possible, I wanted the entire rest of my labor and birth to take place in warm water. I had no plans to ever leave the sweet relaxation of it. Praise Jesus for the unlimited hot water at the hospital. Kyle likes to say that having our baby at the hospital (instead of at home) was worth it for that alone.
I ended up getting out of the birthing tub after a few hours because the baby’s heartbeat had started to slow during contractions, and they needed to be able to hook me up to the monitor to listen for a longer period and make sure the baby was okay. I hadn’t been out of the tub for an hour before I started to push. Hooked up to the monitor and all. I pushed for about a couple hours, and in basically every birthing position possible, before Bash was born that afternoon at 2 pm.
We didn’t know if the baby was going to be a boy or a girl the entire pregnancy. I remember being speechless when they placed him on my stomach, until Kyle whooped, “It’s a boy!” I think that was the first thing I said, too. “It’s a boy. I knew it.” He was so beautiful and so perfect.
When your labor lasts for 32 hours, there’s nothing like that sweet feeling of relief after the baby is born. NOTHING. We did it; I did it; he’s here. There’s a real glow that particularly comes from a natural birth because there’s no medication there to cloud anything. It’s like everything and everyone has a halo. Even though I hadn’t done more than doze between contractions in 2 days, I barely slept that night, too. The post-birth thrill and giddiness is so intoxicating. I slept for 3 hours that first night with Bash. And we spent the rest of the night cuddling.
One of the big selling points of natural birth for me was that it tends to make breastfeeding easier, and I had really wanted to breastfeed. In our Bradley Method classes, we’d watched video after video showing how baby just latches on so naturally and makes that breastfeeding relationship so much less work when there are no drugs or interventions to complicate the breastfeeding relationship.
Well. That’s not how it happened for us.
Bash did not immediately take to breastfeeding. I couldn’t get him to latch until they had moved us to the post-partum room, and it was because they had given me a nipple shield to help. That was something new for me. No one had told me about nipple shields. What even were they? I ended up using it for 2-3 weeks off-and-on to help feed Bash. For us, that was what worked.
My postpartum recovery was pretty quick, despite my 2nd degree tear. I was sore. No one says that it will feel like you’ve been in a rough car accident. Muscles I hadn’t expected to hurt were sore (like my neck and jaw muscles!) And ladies, there is nothing scarier than standing up for the first time after giving birth. It feels like all your insides are about to fall right out on the floor.
Luckily, our Bradley Method teacher had prepared us for life after baby (Or. Well. Prepared us about as much as you can be prepared.) Kyle was ready to step up when I was sore, ache-y, and trying to take care of myself as much as our baby. When he couldn’t get swaddling Bash right the first few times, he had the nurse show him how she did it. He was the one standing beside her watching every move when she showed him how to bathe our baby. He (and my parents) changed all the diapers for something like 2 weeks.
I mean, I got up and moved some. We were out at the Pediatrician and the chiropractor 3-4 days after I had given birth. It wasn’t even that uncomfortable for me by that point. But our Bradley Method teacher had been very firm: I was supposed to rest and breastfeed and cuddle my baby. And that was it. Kyle, along with my parents, supported that goal.
Having a man like that be my partner in raising our newborn made those first few weeks so much easier. People warn you that having a baby changes marriage drastically. And they weren’t wrong. It was hard for both of us for a while. And, in some different ways, it still is. But it is hard in the best possible way. We aren’t even baby people (more on that in a different post), but taking care of our baby was and is so fun. And so frustrating. And so captivating. Becoming our own little family unit and raising a tiny human has been the best thing to happen to our marriage.
Written by Becca