Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Birth Story :: David Braden

This last month with our sweet boy has truly been one of the most amazing months of our lives. I never knew that I could love someone so deeply and so unconditionally. We cannot imagine our lives without him. That said, here is the story of little David's entrance into the world. I am waiting for some photos from my photographer and as soon as I receive them, I'll probably add a few to the post.

This was our first night home...look at those beautiful rosy cheeks! I could kiss them all day.

David Braden Woodfield
9 pounds 9 ounces
22 inches long

We welcomed our sweet little man, David Braden Woodfield, on Saturday, June 18th (on his due date! totally unexpected) at 6:36pm. I had the unmedicated, vaginal birth I so hoped for and it was the most beautiful experience. Our bodies are amazing!!! Birth is truly such a miraculous process. It was one of the hardest but most amazing things I have ever done. A HUGE thank you to our incredible birth team - to the best doulas, Raven Haymond and Ashlie Hashimoto of Beehive Birth Care, to the midwives at Better Birth in Salt Lake, and of course to our amazing hypnobirthing teacher, Lauralyn Curtis for the endless knowledge we gained in her hypnobirthing class to prepare for this experience. Take her class! And of course I could not have done it without my amazing husband, Braden. And also a little shoutout to all of my incredible friends and those I have met in the community who have had beautiful natural, unmedicated births - you are an inspiration to me!

I was in active labor about 16 hours. On Thursday afternoon (the 16th), I went to get a prenatal massage at Salt Lake Prenatal Massage (they are amazing!) and we used a little Clary Sage oil. I had not had any signs of labor (mucus plug, etc) whatsoever up to this point. Then my water broke Friday morning just after midnight without any signs of early labor or contractions. Braden and I were both so shocked when it happened. I was laying down to go to sleep and turned onto my right side and gush....my water broke. I waddled over to the bathroom and Braden started laughing and saying "This is it! This is happening!" It was the best, most surreal moment. So much happiness. 

I had a hard time sleeping that night because I was so anxious/excited (and of course I also had an RA flare - I'll write more about my experience with RA and pregnancy in another post). I was nervous for labor to start this way (with my water breaking) and it was one of my biggest fears in birth but I had the tools to work through that fear quickly and trust in my body. My husband also gave me the sweetest priesthood blessing that quickly calmed my fears. My doulas were also really encouraging and that kept my spirits high. During the day on Friday, I tried to relax -  I spent some time listening to my hypnosis and relaxation tracks and then we ran a few errands and went to a movie (Zootopia - "Try Everything" was stuck in our head for days after). I had a few stronger contractions toward the end of the movie but nothing stayed consistent. Finally, Friday evening (~16 hours after my water broke), my midwives encouraged me to get things going so they gave me an herb, cotton root bark, to drink over several hours and I used a breast pump for nipple stimulation. I started to have regular surges pretty quickly. I then walked hills at the park for an hour or so to keep the surges going. I was officially in early labor. One of our doulas came over around 11pm Friday and we tried to rest as much as possible between contractions. I was amazed at how quickly I found my birthing voice and relaxed through each wave. I used a low moan of "ahhhh" to work through each wave. It was so amazing to have a doula with us that night - Braden was able to get a couple hours of sleep while she helped me through each wave.

We finally went to the birth center around 5am the next morning when my surges were lasting closer to a minute, every 4-5 minutes. I labored in the tub, on my birth ball, on hands and knees, on the bed, standing, and in virtually every possible position. These several hours were a blur and it felt so much longer than I thought it would be. After a while, I was starting to feel so exhausted (after not really sleeping two nights) so I slept between waves in the tub and then on the bed. The tub seemed to slow things down a bit. While I was resting and to get an idea of where we were at, I finally had my first cervical exam around 2pm and I was already at 8cm (amazing! I was so worried I would still only be at a 5 or so). I did not have them tell me at first but I can just hear Raven (doula) saying "That makes my doula heart so happy! Liz, you are already at an 8." I felt immediate relief - I think I cried tears of joy! I continued to labor and visualize opening up but was making slow progress. My midwife finally jumped in and checked again when I was about a 9.5. To speed things up, she helped me stretch and dilate my cervix to a 10 and get the head past the cervix. I can honestly say that to this point, the process was intense but completely painless. I thought it would be "easy" from there but this was the hard part - I had to push. I wasn't feeling the urge to push like I thought I would. I remember feeling like, from everything I had read, my body would just push the baby out but it was a lot of work. I wish I had been better prepared mentally for pushing. I tried so many different positions to push but really struggled. At one point, I said I would rather run multiple marathons - and my doula said something to the effect of "you are at the point in your marathon where you hit 'the wall' - let's work through it." This was exactly what I needed to hear - the perfect analogy. Finally, I went to labor on the toilet to be alone and Braden came in and we said a prayer together. This is when birth really became a spiritual experience for me. I tried laboring and pushing on the toilet and then relaxed in the tub for a few minutes. I originally had thought I really wanted a waterbirth and when I was in the tub, I tried to do some pushing but honestly, I just could not figure it out. I loved using the tub and water during labor though and would love to try a waterbirth next time. While I was in the tub, my doula and midwife gave me a little much-needed "reality check" (in other words, I really did not want to transfer to a hospital at this point, even if that is what I thought I wanted) and I went back in the room determined to finish. I truly felt the strength I needed to push through come directly from God. I sat on the birthing stool while my midwife used her fingers to help me guide baby out. My sweet husband sat behind me and coached me through each push. It was a huge team effort. At first, I was relaxing between waves but it was hard to keep the pressure there while not pushing. Finally I really kicked things into gear, got my second wind, and did one big push after another. I loved the encouragement I received from my birth team as they saw more of his head and his hair appear. It took about 2 hours total of pushing but it was so worth it when he finally arrived! He had a nuchal hand, his left hand up by his face (which he does all the time now), so that likely made pushing a little harder and I had a little tearing in my perineum - but it was not bad at all. My midwife did a great job of helping to soothe and stretch my perineum with warm washcloths as I pushed. I wanted to give up for a few minutes there at the end but I'm so glad I didn't. It all happened so fast and before I knew it, he was there in our arms. My cute husband was crying and we were both so filled with joy and peace. He was so beautiful...he noticed immediately how strong he was. Oh and his hair! So much beautiful, brown hair (which of course explains the heartburn :)). We were in love immediately.

The umbilical cord was short so it was difficult to hold baby on my lower tummy after he arrived. He wasn't breathing right away so the midwife did some CPR and a few other things and he was breathing within the minute. He had a little mucus in his lungs as well. We were never worried. Within a short time, his health and vitals were perfect. We quickly moved to the bed and spent some time bonding as a family, working to latch for breastfeeding, and relaxing. Our doula was awesome and helped us get some food and held baby for a bit as we were doing some cleanup, stitches, etc. After everyone was settled and our vitals were cleared, we fell asleep as a little family. We woke up a few hours later and headed home with my momma and sister. My mom was so sweet to watch him that first night while Braden and I got a good night of sleep. It has made all the difference and it has made the transition to having a baby so much easier.

In my preparation for birth, I firmly believed birth could be completely painless. I still believe this to for the most part, because pain is perceived, but I did feel some "pain" during my labor and birth. There is a difference, however, between good pain and bad pain - pain is usually felt to signal something is wrong but I clearly knew the difference in labor and this "pain" was good and necessary. It was part of the intensity of the experience. I felt the pain/discomfort more intensely when I was exhausted and then again when I was pushing. In my experience, it was all mental. Birth is one of the most intense experiences a woman will experience in this life. Our bodies are so powerful.

I would do it all again in a heartbeat. I learned so much and feel so grateful for all the preparation we did for this experience. I truly believe that it turned out the way it did because of how things were setup from the beginning (i.e. using a birth center/midwives) and because of the incredible birth team I had behind me. From what I hear, pushing should be a little (or a lot) easier with baby #2 and I look forward to that experience.

One of my biggest suggestions for someone wanting to do a natural birth, especially with a first baby, is to take a class and practice, practice, practice. You need to know the techniques in and out to be successful. Braden and I did a weekly "daddy doula date" together and I listened to the hypnosis tracks and affirmations daily. I was very diligent and it made all the difference when I was able to pull those tools from my toolbox during labor. And then of course as I mentioned above, have a great birth team. Those two things made all the difference for me.

I also want to add that I am so grateful for modern medicine and I absolutely believe there is a time and place for medical intervention. 

It is crazy to see some of the parallels from my own mother's experiences in birth. She had all of her girls right around their due date, we were all about 10 pounds and her water always broke before she went into labor. 

Welcome to the world, little David! You are our greatest blessing and our sweetest gift. 






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