I don’t know why I decided I was going to do a water birth, but I just did. The idea of giving birth unmedicated in water was completely wild to me. Given my personality type, I researched the heck out of birth, only to find that this method of birth would be the easiest to recover from physically, and the hardest to overcome mentally. When the time came to finally meet our baby boy, I remember thinking, am I really about to do this? Here is our story. Let’s do this.
In the third trimester, I became sick with COVID. Being that far along with a virus that only had 2 years of data for pregnant women, I was not super worried, but my midwife/doctors wanted to take extra precautions to make sure baby was alright, as the risk for stillbirth was slightly increased. This led to weekly ultrasounds leading up to birth to do a biophysical exam (BPP). On February 2, I went in for my BPP and this time, the OBGYN wanted an extra look. He pointed out there were many particles floating around in my amniotic fluid, and was concerned that it was either poop (aka not good) or it could be the vernix coating from babies skin floating around (normal). He recommended I be induced that evening, only 2 hours later, just to be safe. The only way they could know what it was, was to break my water.
At week 39, I went home, grabbed our already packed bags (thanks to my over prepared husband ☺️), took a breathe, called my doula, called my husband, and went to the hospital. At 8 pm they inserted a balloon into my cervix to start dilation the most natural way possible. The thing is- they can’t guarantee a water birth if you’re being induced, for many reasons that I will reveal along the way. Being induced was not a part of my plan, so I was a little nervous, but felt a lot of peace from God.
I remember having contractions and being uncomfortable when my doula recommended I put a peanut ball in between my legs to help the pain and get some rest. Vitor and I were dancing together to help with the pain- movement helped a ton, but I knew I needed to rest if I wanted to have any energy for what was to come. I remember feeling instant relief putting the peanut bell in-between my legs, as I fell right to sleep, which helped me feel more confident for labor. Rest is VERY important for birth, as they say, birth is like running a marathon.
At that point, my midwife was letting me eat, but after the balloon fell out, I took 2 doses of cytotec to help ripen my cervix, another way to help your body along the labor process. If those didn’t progress me further in my dilation, I would then have to start Petocin*, aka not a good thing for what I wanted during birth.
*Petocin is a man-made version of oxytocin, the natural hormone your body produces to go into labor. When you have petocin, it may add unnecessary stress to your body, where they would have to monitor me and the baby 24/7, which you can’t be monitored while in the bathtub. Most women get induced by artificial oxytocin, and the effects on their bodies vary when it comes to how their bodies handle it. But generally, everyone knows that it is making your body do something faster that should just happen naturally, as well as makes your pain level for contractions get worse and it does increase your chances of further interventions (like a C-section).
At 3:30 AM the balloon fell out, confirming that I was at 4 cm and it had worked!
The time came to break my water. Once my doula arrived, they broke my water and there was no poop or blood in my amniotic fluid! I remember telling my doula, before they broke my water, that I was scared because I knew things were about to get more intense. She let me have a moment to cry and gather myself. That was when my focus narrowed in. I no longer saw the people around me, I went into a trance-like state, riding the waves of pain that came and went. All I remember was hearing my doula remind me to relax my shoulders, take deep breathes, relax my face, etc. To have contractions, you need to be relaxed and remember to breathe with them, but the athlete in me wanted to push back. I surrendered my will to God, but had to continue surrendering with every contraction. I remember if I lost control of my breathing or started to let the pain take over, the contraction would be more painful. But if I surrendered the pain, kept my breathing under control, and let my doula direct me in movements throughout, it was bearable. My husband was watching me and told me that when I looked at him, he knew I was in a different world, because it was like I was looking right through him. He kindly encouraged me, held me dancing with the contractions, and worked as a great team member with my doula massaging me, moving me, and making sure that with every contraction, they were right by my side holding my hand. At some point I threw up both meals I ate before starting labor, and it provided a ton of relief to the tension in my stomach. The only time throwing up or being in pain is a good sign, is during labor 😅.
I dilated from 5 to 7 cm in a timely manner, to where they began to fill the tub with water. I think it was around 3 PM the next day. Once I saw this, I knew that my chances of having my dream birth were 100% despite having to be induced. Praise the lord! My midwife Virginia came in and out to check my cervix and make sure baby was okay. That’s right, my midwife’s name was Virginia. God is that you? Of course it is, I don’t believe in coincidence.
I remember moving to the tub and once I sat down, I felt instant relief for my muscles! My hips, my thighs, my butt, all of them were temporarily released of tension. I labored in the tub for about 45 minutes then took a break. This was when I became very tired. I told Mary “I can’t do this, I’m so tired” and she gave me apple juice with collagen to give me a boost of energy. Everything I went through, Mary, my doula, had a solution. She moved me to many different positions, and made me drink plenty of liquids to have the strength to carry on. I listened to a Christian hypnobirthing track the more intense the contractions were because my mind was beginning to feel tired, and I needed something to focus me again. I don’t know how long that went on, but I remember I was on the bed in my knees, with my hands hanging over the back when I told Mary “I need the tub” where she helped me get back into the tub for what we didn’t know, was the last time. I remember I felt the need to push, and I said “baby is coming, he is coming” to where Mary replied “really?” And she notified the midwife and the team to prepare for Mateo’s arrival. I had already begun to push!
Pushing was the most spectacular part of the whole birth. I remember my body going into action with all the strength it could muster, to push our precious Mateo into the world. My body bore down- my voice carried a warriors cry with every push. I changed positions for the last time, so they could easily access Mateo when he did come. I pushed and made noises I have never heard myself make, meanwhile my husband on the sidelines was crying of joy thinking about finally meeting his son, and probably crying because he thought I was dying with the noises I was making 😂.
He (Vitor) grabbed my left leg, Mary grabbed the right. I could feel with every push, Mateo coming out, and every break, Mateo retracting back in. I wanted him out! I gathered all of my strength, cried out one last time and felt his head pop out, my midwife Virginia grabbed him as I said “Get him out!” and that’s when I felt her pull the rest of his body out and brought him out of the water onto my chest. I remember feeling instant relief and joy as I finally did it! I gave birth to my beautiful boy with my dream birth! It was over and he was here! I immediately cried for joy as my husband came to meet him on my chest. My mom also came over to be with us to welcome her 3rd grandchild into the world.
The amount of support I felt was immeasurable. I had never had so many people coaching me on, helping me in my time of need, looking out for my best interest as I did that day. The bond between myself, my doula, my midwives was incredible. Surrounded by amazing women who created a safe space for me to give birth for the first time. The goal wasn’t just to give birth, but to have the best birth experience ever, and I did!
Mateo arrived at 5:40 PM on February 3rd, only 21 hours after starting induction. I want to thank my husband for encouraging me and never leaving my side, my doula Mary for jumping in to help with every contraction, my mom for praying over me the whole time, and my birthing team at Cone hospital! I have never felt more empowered and strong than I did while giving birth. God fiercely and lovingly created women for this!