This birth story series is sponsored by HCA Midwest Health.
I did everything right to prepare for my first birth. As someone who wanted to give birth without an epidural, I knew I had to prepare my body and mind ahead of time if I was going to be able to do this.
I took prenatal yoga classes and did all the recommended stretches. I hired a doula. I did all the research. I did squats. I listened to podcasts and read books. I wanted to be READY when this baby came.
My water broke around 3 a.m.: I had been coached by everyone in the natural birth community NOT to rush to the hospital if my water broke, but to wait as long as possible before going, to avoid being pushed into an epidural. So I labored at home as long as I could.
By 6 a.m., the contractions were getting to be pretty painful. My husband (who is a lawyer) needed to run to work to hand off some physical documents so that another attorney could take over an urgent legal case in his absence. He asked me if it would be better to go now or after the baby is born? I told him to go now—it was 8 a.m. at this point, and obviously, this was a terrible decision! I then labored in the tub alone with my loyal dog, Marty, during some of the most painful and scary contractions.
By 9 a.m., my husband was still stuck in traffic on his way back from the office, and my doula was dropping her daughter off with a caregiver and hadn’t yet arrived. Around this time I called the hospital to let them know my water had broken and that this baby was coming soon. The nurse on the line didn’t believe me—at my insistence, she reluctantly agreed to let the hospital know.
My husband and my doula arrived around the same time, around 10 a.m. At this point I felt like we needed to go to the hospital.
When we arrived at the hospital, I promptly threw up in the lobby. They brought me back to triage, and by that point I was in transition. Despite the fact that I was intense labor by this point and obviously puking, they insisted on checking my dilation to “see if I was close enough.” I had to be on my back for this, which is the most painful position to be in for a woman transitioning without meds. It was a horrible experience, and the nurse checking me in was less than compassionate.
While she was checking me in on the computer, my body started pushing. The nurse started freaking out and yelled at me to stop pushing. I told her “I can’t control it!” This baby was COMING. Before I knew it, multiple nurses were rushing me down a hallway on the triage bed—it was like something out of a movie. Once we got to a room, a doctor I had never met ran in to help me deliver, and my pushing stalled. I was still on my back, but in so much pain that I felt like I couldn’t move to any other position. The doctor seemed irritated that I didn’t know how to push. After explaining it to me a few different times and everyone yelling “PUSH!”, I pushed with all my might and the baby came out after 6 minutes. All of the yelling for me to push was stressful, and my intense pushing resulted in a second-degree tear. The baby came out (with a full head of dark hair!) and they put him on my chest.
From the onset of real contractions to the time that I was holding my son was 6 hours; from the time we stepped foot in the hospital lobby to when the baby came out was 45 minutes. That child came in fast and furious, which is very consistent with his intense personality.
Both mommy and baby were healthy, thank God. But we had a rough start. While still in the hospital, I was in shock and had a panic attack, and once we were home, I had nightmares about the birth. It definitely was not the powerful birth I had in mind.
My second birth—nearly 2.5 years after the first—was a healing experience. This time around, I decided to skip the doula and rely on my husband for support (no offense to doulas, but I wanted to try this round on my own). I didn’t bother with yoga classes. I had also found a doctor in the area who promised to be the one to deliver my baby, so that I wouldn’t get some random doctor yelling at me to push.
This birth experience was, thankfully, so much different than the first! It went so much slower and the intensity progressed at a “normal” speed, which I was so thankful for. The night before my daughter was born, I kissed my oldest goodnight and his grandparents put him to bed, while my husband supported me in our bedroom as I labored. Around midnight we decided it was time to go to the hospital.
I birthed at a different hospital this time around, and was in intense labor by the time I got to triage, but thankfully wasn’t yet in transition. This nurse was SO MUCH KINDER than the one I had in triage when I was in labor with Silas. She kept telling me, “You’re going to have a great birth experience here.” When they tried to check my dilation, I started to PANIC, just remembering how traumatic it was last time. My angel of a nurse was able to calm me down and was so respectful. She told me that there was a nurse working that night who was super quick at checking women, and would I let her check me? I agreed. Sure enough, this nurse was able to get the job done without much discomfort on my part. To this day, I am so thankful for that thoughtful triage nurse and her kindness, which set the tone for my entire birthing experience.
I had requested a room with a tub, and spent much of the time laboring in the warm water. My sweet doctor was in and out of the room and stayed with me while I labored, which is so unusual for an OB. I asked her if I could labor on the floor, and she had the nurses put down blankets for me. I went into transition on the floor and started pushing while on all fours. The nurses were panicked and thought they needed to get me to the bed, but my doctor told them that I was fine where I was. So that’s how I birthed my daughter into this world: I knelt on the floor on a bed of blankets, with my arms wrapped around my husband’s neck for support.
It took about 15 minutes for me to push her out; my doctor caught her and immediately threaded her through my legs and handed her to me, umbilical cord still attached.
I stood up holding her, like some sort of Amazon woman, and walked over to the bed and laid down so that I could be stitched up. I felt so powerful!
Even though I had a second-degree tear with both births, I felt so energetic and strong after having my daughter. With my son, I was in pain for months, but with my daughter I drove to Kohl’s to get some more newborn clothes the day after we got home from the hospital. Rosalie’s birth was so beautiful and such an empowering experience.
My first birth was very scary, but it brought me my sweet boy; I’m really thankful that I got a second shot at having a positive birth experience.
For labor and delivery expertise, more moms in Kansas City choose an HCA Midwest Health hospital. Our OB/GYN teams at our delivering hospitals – Centerpoint Medical Center, Menorah Medical Center, Overland Park Regional Medical Center and Research Medical Center – ensure every woman has access to top-quality maternity care, including specialized services for women with high-risk pregnancies. By delivering more babies than anyone else in the region, our maternity hospitals deliver experience and safety. Learn more at hcamidwest.com/delivers.