When I found out that I was pregnant with Kate I knew that I wanted to have a natural delivery. I had had an epidural with all three of the other kids, and as Kate was "our last", I really wanted to try the natural route. I never had a bad experience with any of my previous labors or epidurals, I just wanted the experience of natural childbirth. Bryan thought I was crazy and was very vocal about it. According to him, he didn't want to see me suffer and he always asked me why I would want to put myself through voluntary pain. For me, I wanted the experience. That's as simply as I can put it. I figured that God created women to give birth and so why not experience what we were created to do? Yes, I am completely aware that many people, including family members, think I'm crazy and that this isn't a good enough reason; but for me, it was.
I planned all along to go natural and I prepared myself by reading a book on hypnobirthing. It helped put my fears aside and gave me a "method" to get through labor. I always hoped that I would have a fast labor so that I wouldn't have to endure the pain for a long time, and talking to my doctor and a family friend that was an OB, based on my previous labors, they both felt that I would have a fast labor, a labor that would probably be 1.5 hours. Well, yep. They were absolutely right.
So here is the very detailed version of Kate's crazy, fast birth story.
I had a doctor appointment on Thursday, June 9, at 4:00. I was officially one day overdue. As I went to the doctor, I had my hospital bag packed and the kids' suitcase packed in the car to stay overnight at my parents just in case. I had a feeling that that night might be the night she came, so I was prepared. At the appointment, the doctor checked me and I was dilated to a 4 and 75% effaced. He stripped my membranes (again) and told me that he wouldn't be surprised if I was back later that night. I told the doctor to keep in mind that I lived in Eagle Mountain (and we had to make it to Riverton hospital) and asked him how far apart my contractions should be when I needed to go to the hospital. He told me I needed to come in at 5 minutes apart because he felt that I would go fast.
That evening I was having contractions here and there and we decided to leave the kids at my parents' house for the night. This ended up being a very wise decision. Bryan and I went home and relaxed. Okay, not really. (*Sidenote: I went home and started vacuuming. Bryan refused to let me "ruin my hearing" with our extremely loud vacuum. He made a quick impromptu trip to WalMart to buy a new vacuum while I relaxed and breathed through contractions. He came home, assembled the vacuum and I finished vacuuming. Classic Bryan and Ashlee story before a baby is born.)
I was still having contractions that evening. They would be regular for a bit and then stop for an extended period of time. I wasn't really able to fall asleep because of the contractions, and at 11:30 pm I started having regular contractions at 8 minutes apart. As much as I had prepared with hypnobirthing, that went out the door. I didn't feel like the hypnobirthing was working for me and I felt I could get more relief various other ways. I got out of bed and walked around the house, played Solitaire on my phone, and tried to breathe through them and relieve them in various positions while Bryan got a little bit of sleep. Pretty quickly to contractions went from 8 minutes to 5 minutes. At that point I went in the bedroom and woke up Bryan and told him that we needed to go, to which he woke up with the reply of a very loud, "Ughhhhhhhhhhhh!" To which I replied, "Excuse me? What are YOU groaning about?" Apparently for him it wasn't "good timing". Ha!
Bryan quickly grabbed the things he needed and we loaded into the car and headed out. It was about 12:40 am, and as soon as we got going the contractions dropped to 4 minutes apart. As we got to Camp Williams on Redwood Road, the contractions were then 2 minutes apart and getting harder. I wondered how much longer I would be able to handle them. They were intense. We turned onto Bangerter and when we did that, the mother of all contractions hit. WOW!! This contraction came and it kept going and going. I think I howled in pain - no, I know I howled in pain. I ripped my seatbelt off, put my foot up on the seat and pushed up off it to try and help relieve something! I always wondered how I would know when I went into the "transition" stage of labor where the baby would drop down into the birth canal and I would be in the final stage. Well, now I knew. This contraction went on "forever" and brought a sharp pain with it and I literally felt the baby drop.
Bryan really started speeding at this point and we were only a few minutes away from the hospital. We hit a red light one stop light away from the hospital and I yelled at Bryan to turn right and go a different way. We were a few blocks away when another contraction hit and oh boy, the "pressure" contractions set in. It was if her head was right there and I cried, "Oh my goodness Bryan, she's coming!" Panic set in on Bryan and he REALLY started to speed because there was no way he was going to be delivering that baby in the car. We pulled up to the hospital doors, Bryan turned off the car, grabbed the bag, and raced into the hospital to try and find a wheelchair. Luckily there were two security guards to assist us, one got a wheelchair while the other got the elevator. Meanwhile, I got out of the car and started walking into the hospital and made it between the two double doors when another contraction came. Bryan turned around to find me hunched over with my hands on my knees and groaning. I literally looked at the dirty floor mat and contemplated getting down on my hands and knees hoping to find some relief from the pressure. The pressure was crazy. Like women have said before, it felt like I needed to poop REALLY bad. But at the same time I knew even doing that wouldn't bring relief. It was like there was a heavy balloon filling up inside of me and expanding and pushing down on my bum. (Graphic enough? Well, that's what it felt like.) They wheeled me up to the Labor and Delivery floor and as we turned the corner there were a few nurses standing at the desk. When they saw me the charge nurse, said, "Oh we have one." I gave her THE look and she said, "Oh, okay. Let's get you in here and check you."
I got into my delivery room and my nurse, Wendi, told me that I had to get undressed so that she could check me. I literally threw my jacket off and all modesty went out the window as I stripped down in front of three nurses. In fact, I ripped my shirt off forgetting that I had put my bra on and I got all entangled in it with my arms pinned up by my head. Awesome. So finally after getting undressed the nurse checked me and I was of course fully dilated and engaged. The nurse told one of the other nurses to call my doctor and to call him at home. He only lives in Daybreak and so he should have been able to get there quickly.
I laid on my right side and gripped the hand rail and held on while the other contractions came. As Bryan said, he thinks I left imprints on that hand rail. Wendi, my nurse, sat by my side and coached me through the contractions. At this point it was the pressure that I had to endure, and I held on and "ooohhhhhed" my way through them. I'm proud to say I wasn't screaming and hollering, it was just a low moan and I was able to remain in control. Wendi just kept saying,"Don't push Ashlee" as I held on and breathed. They were just waiting on my doctor. I didn't care if the doctor was there, I just wanted to deliver this baby!
The pressure kept coming and soon I got to experience "The Ring of Fire". And yes, it is just what it sounds like, a. ring. of. fire. The burning sensation wasn't as "hot" as I thought it would be, but it was still quite uncomfortable. On one contraction my bag of water partially came out which I thought it was the baby's head (and it felt like it), and I asked, "Is she here?" Bryan and the nurse told me no, but that they could see her head. At that point the baby's heart rate started to drop and the nurses then said, "We need to deliver this baby." My doctor hadn't arrived yet and that didn't matter anymore, she was coming. There was no more waiting for Doctor Slowpoke.
Wendi took control and told me that I was going to push with the next contraction. Two contractions and three pushes later, Kate made her way into this world at 1:15 am on June 10, about a whole 15 minutes after arriving at the hospital. What a whirlwind! She was beautiful, healthy, and tiny. She was 6 lbs. 8 oz. and 20 inches long. She had dark hair and a dark complexion and looked nothing like our other three, but she was beautiful just like her siblings.
The doctor finally made it in time to deliver my placenta! He came in to do all the clean up work. I actually tore a little bit and had to have a couple of stitches and so he stitched me up. No, I did not feel the actual tearing. I had no idea. I actually felt fine after delivering her. The pressure and burning left with the baby, and I had no more pain or discomfort. It's amazing how fast it all left and how back to normal I felt. It was great to be able to move my legs on my own, sit up on my own, and just feel normal. The way a woman's body goes through labor and recovers so quickly from childbirth truly is miraculous.
Of course I had some tenderness and soreness over the next few days, but I felt better quicker than I did with the other kids and when I had episiotomies versus this time when I slightly tore. Truly the worst part of this recovery was the contractions and cramping I would get when I nursed. I felt that was a little unfair since I already went through labor unmedicated and every time I nursed I felt like I was going through it again. Any medication I took was to relieve the pain and discomfort of postpartum contractions.
So the question is: Would I go natural again? I have to be honest and say that if I had hours worth of labor, I most likely would have gotten an epidural. That is why I am grateful that my labor was only 1 hour 45 minutes long and I didn't have a choice even if I did want an epidural. It would be extremely difficult to not get an epidural if it was hours worth of hard contractions. However, IF I were to have another baby (and I'm not planning on it), I can't say I wouldn't go natural. The fact is, if I were to have another and I was not induced, but went into labor on my own, it would most likely be even faster and I wouldn't have the chance to get an epidural and would have to go natural again. If you're wanting to go natural, it's kind of nice to be forced into it and not be able to back out. So, would I go natural again? Possibly. Probably.
Maybe it's my outlook on life, maybe I have a high pain tolerance, or maybe I just have a bad memory; but as crazy, insane, and intense as my labor was, I would never say it was absolutely horrible or one of the worst things I've ever experienced. I'm grateful that I was able to experience natural childbirth and I'm proud to be able to say that I did it. For me, it was worth it.
My rockstar nurse, Wendi, and the deliverer of Kate.
Our first family picture.