I started to go into labor during dinner. We were over at a couple's house from church and they had made a delicious meal, but I was kind of uncomfortable and kind of having contractions. They prayed our boy would come that night.
Earlier that day my doctor had stripped my membranes and was hoping to put me into labor soon. I was huge. Not just kind of big or kind of uncomfortable, but uncomfortable and oh-so-large. I was so excited and terrified to meet our boy and just wanted to get the whole labor thing over with.
I started having heavier contractions around 4:30am, October 29, 2009. Like most nights, I ended up sleeping in the recliner to aid my painful pelvic region and lower back pain. On that early morning, the pain was a little different and a bit stronger. My hopes were high that that was the day we would greet our boy.
I had done a lot of research and after talking to many experienced birthers, we decided to go all natural during the birth. We would still be in a hospital, but we wouldn't get an epidural. I had a wonderful doula who answered every question I ever imagined and was able to be with me throughout my entire labor and delivery. She is a gem and I will forever be thankful for the way she aided Jack's birth.
We also did a style of birthing called hypno-birthing. The idea is that it is possible to have as painless of a birth experience as possible. I had written out cards of breathing techniques, done the exercises with John and filled him in on the importance of the husband's role. He kind of got fuzzy eyed whenever I brought it up, but he was on board either way. The stuff works, I tell you. It truly made a difference and really helped me keep the mindset to relax. Which, let's be honest, is hard for a person when they are in serious pain. They made it sound so simple. Freaking out = tensing up = painful labor. Relaxing = less tensing up during contractions = less pain.
As the birthing process began we focused on breathing through each contraction. I had made a playlist for the labor and it was awesome. I listened. I meditated. I breathed. I joked between contractions.
As the contractions got more intense we called our doula and she came right over to the house. Thankfully, she is also a midwife so she was able to see how dilated I was. When she arrived I was at 4cm, I think. She helped me into the shower and that made a world of difference. I sat on the birthing ball. I drank lots of Gatorade. Things were going well and my heart was swelling with the anticipation and arrival of our Jack.
When she checked me around 2pm I was at 6cm and she suggested we head to the hospital. I was so excited, but the contractions were getting stronger. I had my ipod on and focused on the music, on breathing, on relaxing and just being. I tried not to pay attention to nurses and the bustle of the hospital or the fact that these contractions were beginning to tear my body in half. I still had transition to hit and I could feel the panic rising.
You know, so many friends told me what it would be like when I got to the hospital. I tried to block out their opinions, but it was true. Once they hooked me up to a monitor it made laboring in a relaxed manor pretty tricky. I couldn't move around and if I did I had to wait until the nurse came to unhook the machines. I was exhausted (and so was my patient and ever-present husband. He was just incredible.) I tried laboring in the shower and that helped a little. I was starting to get discouraged.
When the nurse came into to break my water (it wasn't breaking on it's own.) the floodgates of heaven opened and water was everywhere. (no joke.) If I thought labor was for real before, I was misled. Here was labor. Ready or not.
And the music still played and John tried reading me my breathing cards (imagining the alphabet going across the screen in my mind, a-a-a-a, b-b-b-b, c-c-c-c, etc. It worked. For a while.)
But when transition hit I was a gonner. I screamed, I groaned, I prayed for Jesus to make it stop.
But how He brought rest. Between contractions I slept, I'd awake to serious pain, but then float off to exhausted rest again. It came in waves, just like everyone had said.
My doula was so encouraging. "I know this is hard, but when you feel like you can't take it any more that means pushing is right around the corner. You'll love pushing."
I didn't feel the urge to push. But I did feel like my life was almost over so I grabbed hold of the sides of the bed and pushed with all my might. I was done with this transition buisness.
note to self: during the next labor, don't push before you're ready. there may or may not be consequences to you jumping the gun.
The doctor arrived (kind of cold and having to leave her dinner at Olive Garden. Sorry, doc.) and got ready to catch our little guy.
I started to panic because, I'll just be honest, the pain was unbearable.
Why wasn't this hypno birthing working? I thought I was just supposed to feel pressure. Yeah, I felt a whole lot more than pressure. I felt the most excruciating pain I'd ever felt in my life.
My doctor is a gem, but wasn't too keen on our whole birth plan. She thought it was silly. She thought I was silly for not getting an epidural. In my birthplan I asked her not to direct my pushing. (What was I thinking?) So, sitting there spread eagle before her, she said.
"Well, ya told me you didn't want me to direct you, so I don't know what to tell you."
I could (should) have kicked her.
I looked at my doula for mercy.
"What do I do!?"
She told me I was doing great and rubbed my arm.
The next few minutes are a blur, but I do remember pushing, screaming like a woman warrior and continuing to beg Jesus for mercy (no joke on that one.) I looked at the mirror for a brief second, (not my fav) and couldn't believe what was going on.
I pushed again. My man told me I was doing great and he could see his head. I was surprised he was even looking.
20 minutes later, precious Jack Stephen Dickerson Jr was placed in my arms and I could feel his chubby legs and tiny bum and my heart literally exploded with love.
"Hi there." I mumbled. "You are going to do mighty things for God's kingdom." I tried to memorize every piece of him in those first few minutes. I looked at his fingers, his toes, his big (courtesy of Grandpa) ears and full cheeks. He was just perfect. Everything I had dreamed of and more. John leaned over and we admired him together. He was finally here. The wait was over and just like it says in John 16:21,
"A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world."
Nothing felt more true than that. Every ounce of the pain was gone and I felt like a true warrior. I could have had two more at that rate. (Not really.) But I felt grand.
Jack didn't nurse right away (which is another story for another time.) and he just wanted to sleep. Like his daddy. That was okay, I didn't see a need to rush it. We eventually figured it out together.
My parents and sister came and we admired him together.
Although I don't know if I can do another all-natural birth, I'm thankful we did it. For the experience.
It was truly magical. So thankful to Jesus for our little guy.