Finding the Warrior Within Me: A Birth Story

Baby K Birthday

My darling new daughter is almost four months old and I realize that I never shared my birth story in the chaos of the past few months of “single” parenting, my husband miraculously returning home from his deployment two months early, and keeping busy with my family as we reintegrate and enjoy the wonderful weather. Every birth is beautiful and personal, but this birth was particularly unique to me with the absence of my husband for half of my pregnancy and for the birth.

As many of you know I hired a doula earlier this year, because my husband was deployed in Afghanistan and I was trying to cover my bases since there was not a guarantee that family would be able to be able to come or time their visit for her exact arrival. Thankfully my mother was able to come for two weeks on her way to moving to the east coast from Japan (literally on her way– the movers finished packing her household goods on Friday and she flew to the U.S. on Sunday!). She arrived a week before my due date in case the baby made an early appearance and had a flight scheduled to leave a week after my due date.

The baby was four days “late” and after a few hours of labor on Monday night the contractions were getting more intense and at around 5-7 minutes apart I thought the time was nigh. It was after midnight by the time I called my doula and she and her apprentice came about an hour later, timed my contractions with me and we tried to rest until things started to kick into high gear. We were up a good portion of the night breathing through contractions, changing positions to get the baby aligned and find some comfort, and by early morning my contractions were about 3 minutes apart. We looked at the clock trying to decide whether or not to go in to the hospital for the end of the overnight shift or after the fresh 7AM shift began. That is when my kids woke up for the day and something in my body clicked into a “mommy mode” of some sort and the contractions spread out and became irregular changing the plan completely.

As strange and disappointing as it was after the excitement and exhaustion of the nine hours overnight, we knew that it was probably going to happen sometime soon since my contractions never stopped— they just spread out and became irregular. My doula was convinced that once the active labor and transition hit that it would be really quick, so she urged me to keep in touch as the patterns changed or got closer together once again. I had about 18 hours of irregular labor similar to this with my son before going into active labor and transition, so it was familiar yet as all births are, different. I tried to be conscious of my posture throughout the day to keep the baby aligned in hopes that it would help me have a shorter, more effective transition and was nervous and anxious about when my new daughter was going to make her appearance.

I had been in touch with my husband on Facebook during that first evening to let him know that I had started the early stages of labor and that I was no longer going in to the hospital that morning. I made sure I had my list of phone numbers to call to try and get a hold of him when it was time so that we could try and set up a Skype call for the birth. My friend Kori texted me during the day to check in to see if anything was happening and I will never forget our little conversation back and forth about labor and third babies. She shared her third birth story, which ended up sounding very similar to what mine ended up being like and she said “right when you think your body is going to give up on you, it is the end”. I was so nervous about the transition having experienced two births prior and hated the feeling of being out of control and frantic. What was the transition and this birth going to be like?

Fast forward to that evening after the kids were tucked into bed and by this point I had been having early labor and irregular contractions for roughly 26 hours so I was exhausted! The contractions started to get more regular and intense and I sat in the living room with my mother listening to music on Pandora and sang through my contractions to help with the pain. I remember laughing through a pretty painful contraction with my mother, because she was yelling for me to sing and I shouted back “I don’t know the words!”. As may of you know Pandora mixes in related artists who I am often less familiar with and this happened to be a song I did not know—that was definitely a funny moment looking back. I was running to the bathroom what seemed like every ten minutes at this point and I knew that the baby was dropping pretty low as I had no bladder capacity whatsoever! A little while later, the contractions slowed down just enough that I was able to rest on the couch for a spell, so I sent my mother to bed so that she could be rested enough to take care of the kids the next day.

About an hour later I was hit with significantly more intense contractions again and was no longer able to rest as they got increasingly more intense and close together. After the pattern the night before I was hesitant to call my doula too quickly in case there were still hours ahead, but tried to time the contractions the best that I could and breathe through them on my own. Although I should have felt alone and frantic I was somehow able to keep focused, breathe and have courage I never thought I had as I experienced something this significant alone. I called my doula to touch base and update her that I was timing my contractions again as they were about 3-5 minutes apart and I was trying to determine when I should meet her at the hospital. Not wanting to have another “just kidding” situation again we agreed we would touch base again in 20-30 minutes, but after hanging up the contractions were not slowing down and I must have made enough noise that my mother was downstairs with me again. At 2-3 minutes apart something in me told me I had to go NOW and this was not a repeat of the night before.

I called a girlfriend who had offered to drive me if it was in the middle of the night and the kids were sleeping and at this point I couldn’t even get through more than a couple words at a time, which made it clear to her that she had to come right away. She just said “I am coming now”, before I even finished rambling about contractions, sleeping kids and doulas. My mother was trying to apply counter pressure to the bottom of my spine like the doulas had done the night before as I was rocking my hips through my breathing and I was in pretty crazy amounts of pain at this point. I Facebook messaged my husband a number of times to keep him updated and then to let him know I was heading in, but he was not online so I prayed he would get the message so I would not have to go through my list of numbers to try and reach him overseas while I was going through these contractions. I let my doula know that I was heading to the hospital and to meet me there and a few minutes later my friend knocked at the door. She grabbed my duffel bag and we waited for a little window in between my contractions to try and get into the car, but I had to stop, breathe through while rocking my hips a couple of times before getting in the seat. I remember being horrified at the thought of having to sit still in a car through this stage of labor and thinking “how am I going to get through these contractions SITTING DOWN and strapped in a car?”

The drive there was intense, but my friend Jen was so calm, kept reminding me about my focal points and she was the rock that I needed for this stage of my labor! The weather was odd and I had her roll down the window as we drove on the highway as I felt the need for some sort of distraction from the intense pain as the cold, sleety rain beat on my arm. Jen actually gave birth to her second child when he husband was deployed four years ago so this was a neat experience for both of us as she had been in my shoes and I did not feel uncomfortable accepting her help, because I knew that she understood in a way that only women who have endured the same trial could possibly know. We got to the E.R. entrance about 20 minutes later and they insisted on taking me in a wheelchair to labor and delivery. They said that they had to and I probably gave them the craziest look of horror, irritation and disbelief as that was the last place I wanted to be shoved in while going through these contractions.

Jen asked if I wanted her to stay until the doulas arrived and since I did she went to park the car and bring in my duffel bag. I somehow made it up to the third floor and as I got checked-in they insisted on taking me to a room to monitor my contractions and the baby. At this point my contractions were about one minute apart and I was dying—the last place I want to be is laying down in a bed with monitors on me especially after I just got up and out of that darn wheelchair. They got me hooked up to monitors in a bed and the midwife came in briefly to check me and I was only a 6. I had thoughts of disappointment as it seemed like the end was nowhere in sight and these excruciating contractions were going to go on for hours and I would have felt defeated at this point if the contractions did not keep hitting me which took all of my energy and focus.

Jen was back by my side at this point and as she and the nurse talked me through the frequent contractions I remember looking at the clock on the wall at one point thinking “I can’t do this any more”. Just as the thoughts of anesthesiologists and drugs began to cross my mind it happened. The “ring of fire” as I have heard it called, then my friend Kori’s words went through my mind, which gave me the extra courage and perspective to remind myself that I could do this, it was almost the end (plus the common sense in me said that it the pain would be over sooner by pushing than waiting for some drugs that would be too late to administer at this point anyways). I yelled out “I feel burning. Can I push?” and the nurse looked at me a little surprised (remember I was supposedly a 6 just a few minutes earlier) and called for the midwife to come down the hall. Sure enough I was a 10 and ready to get this baby out!

BirthingRoomAfter a few minutes of pushing I had my new baby in my arms and I remember repeating “that was crazy” multiple times over the next hour and after requesting delayed shots and medication so I could spend time with my little darling it all seemed so surreal. There is nothing like the feeling after the pain stops and you are holding new life in your arms. I was high on hormones, adrenaline and pure joy at this point and when they asked me who I wanted to cut the cord I urged them to hand the scissors to my friend Jen who had coached me through all of this. Then we realized we needed to tell my husband and call my mother as it was so fast speed that it didn’t even cross our minds to grab my phone and try to Skype or keep anyone updated. Jen grabbed my smart phone from my duffel bag, snapped a few pictures, messaged my husband and then we briefly talked to my mother to let her know about baby’s swift arrival. Just then my doulas entered the room out of breath as they had tried to get there as soon as they could, but just a few minutes too late!

My mother was unable to go back to sleep after we had left and had been messaging my husband to try and catch him online and he was able to call the hospital and be transferred to the delivery room shortly after the doulas arrived (so probably about ten minutes after the birth). I will not lie it was a slightly awkward call with all of the staff and doulas surrounding me, but it was exciting to be able to hear his voice and talk to him so soon after the big event. My only regret about this birth was that we were unable to set up the Skype phone with him so that he could be virtually present for the birth, but it was a whirlwind from 1AM when my friend came to pick me up to 1:50AM when I delivered my baby that I cannot think of how we would have gotten it up and running in time!

This birth taught me more about my own strength and courage, how to trust my body and what it is capable of and as my friend Kori put it when sharing one of her birth stories with me, that “I am a Queen”. And no matter what your birth story is, we as mothers are all queens. Just look at what we can do!

{If you enjoyed reading Finding the Warrior Within Me: A Birth Story I would be tickled pink if you left a comment. To read more about my green(er) parenting aspirations, advice and adventures be sure to subscribe to my RSS feed or get updates via email.}
Emi

Emi

By Emi Stapler. I am a cloth diaper advocate, green parenting blogger, mother of three and a military wife who enjoys sharing my motherhood adventures and advice. Follow me at The Cloth Diaper Report on Facebook, Twitter @TheCDReport , Google +, Pinterest and Instagram.
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Comments

  1. Amy Roberts says:

    Amazing Emi. The strength and courage mothers are endowed with is a miracle indeed. I loved reading your beautiful story!

  2. Such an amazing story Emi! I hope to be able to finally meet my little cousins later this year! You have so much strength and courage! I am proud of the wonderful person you have become! You have a beautiful family! I love you Cuz! 😉

  3. You are amazing! Congratulations. You are so fortunate to have a wonderful friend like Jen!

    • I am blessed beyond measure. She is still my cheerleader as I have gone from a mom of two to a frazzled mom of three! I am starting to get my rhythm though.

  4. Darcy Swymeler says:

    This was a wonderful story to read first thing this morning with my coffee. You are a courageous woman, and I can’t imagine not having my hubby there when I gave birth. It sounds like you were surrounded by wonderful women, understanding, and love. Thanks for sharing! <3

  5. Congrats on your girl. I know she is already 4 months, but congrats. :) Reading your story brought back so many memories of my two labors. With my first, transition happened in the car. I know how that is. How a woman in labor, better yet transition, manages a car ride is beyond me still. :) With my daughter (2nd) the time to push from being 6 cm not too much earlier happened fast and no one was expecting it. my water broke while on the birth ball and they wanted to check my progress. My doc barely got up to his first knuckle, she was that close. The emotions and hormones rushing through you right after birth is just amazing. I loved that feeling every time. A woman’s body is an amazing thing.
    Thank you for sharing your story!

  6. Beautiful story Emi! And congratulations on your little girl! I can’t imagine having two little ones to take care of and a husband away and to still find the strength to push forward. Truly amazing!

    • Thanks Kendal and congratulations to you for your recent marriage. How exciting! Are you back in WA now? We need to meet up while the weather is nice. 😀

  7. Emily Stacey says:

    Wow. It actually sounds very similar to the two hours Tessa’s birth took. I was in shock at how quickly the whole thing went. The car ride was torture. Thankfully they didn’t make me sit in a wheelchair. It was intensely fast. I’m glad Jen was there as your support to remind you how strong you are. Thanks for sharing. I love a good birth story.

    • The wheelchair was torture! I think it was one of those silly ER rules since it was after hours and I couldn’t go straight to L&D.

  8. Really proud of you Emi…..What a wonderful example of an Army wife you are! Love to your sweet Family….miss you~

    • Thank you! Military life is definitely an adventure, but has made me stronger and it is military spouses like you who I frequently look up to for courage and inspiration!

  9. Thanks for sharing, Emi! Reading your story makes me ready to birth again!

  10. I loved reading about your experience. Giving birth to my baby girl is the greatest thing I’ve done.

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