Is it just me or is anyone else obsessed with birth stories? Whether it’s natural, with medical help, or on the side of the highway, each story is so individual and amazing in it’s own way.
Today’s Monday Mama is the beautiful Merilee. She went to BYU and graduated with an Exercise and Wellness degree. She married Derek within days of graduating. Before her son was born she worked as a personal trainer and corporate wellness coach. Now that he’s 8 months old she’s recently become a full time homemaker and stay at home mom and is loving it. She currently travels like crazy between Utah and Texas. Since having her baby she’s struggled to figure out who she is and who she wants to be. She still feels like her future is a blank canvas where she can paint and decide what she wants it to look like. She loves fitness, sushi, reading, social media, family time, and lazy days at home. She’s very comfortable talking about her natural birth and loved her experience.
Here’s her story:
“I wanted to share my story because having a natural birth with Benson was one of my greatest accomplishments. I realize not everyone chooses or is able to have a natural birth, and that’s okay, this was just my choice. One of my favorite things to do is encourage and empower women to birth however they choose and to make the most of their choice, because it is one of the most precious experiences life can bring.
My son wasn’t due until March 20th 2014, but on Friday March 7th, at about 4:00am I awoke with my first contraction. I knew that the difference between Braxton Hicks and real contractions was that real contractions don’t go away. These ones stayed. Even so, I was in denial all day with unwavering constant contractions. I was actually in denial until I checked into the hospital later that evening!
Heading to the Hospital:
Around 3:00pm, my contractions were getting more painful. This is when I began thinking this could be the real deal (you’d think the 11 hours of labor and losing my mucus plug would have been enough of an indicator…). My husband was going to work late, but I texted him with an update and said he better get home pretty quick. He zipped right home. At 4:00pm the contractions were extremely close together, within 2 minutes, so I finally called my midwives. I decided to labor more at home before checking in to the hospital, so I took a bath and tried to relax. By 5:00, I was ready to be at the hospital and get settled, thinking it would help me along. We grabbed all our gear and threw it in the car and headed in, arriving to St. Lukes Baptist Hospital in San Antonio, TX between 6:30 and 7:00pm. I wish I could capture in a bottle Derek’s scurrying to get our stuff ready to go and in the car. It was really cute.
Checking into the Hospital:
My very first check at the hospital was at 7:30pm and I was 100% effaced and 2cm dilated, so that was good. My midwife (this was the first time I had met her since I had only moved to SA 4 weeks prior!) Erin said I could admit now and continue laboring, go home and keep laboring, or stick around the hospital grounds for a few minutes laboring until it got stronger. I didn’t feel quite comfortable going home because we did live 30 minutes away, and I didn’t want to check in completely at only 2cm. So, we chose to walk around the hospital and labor a little bit before being fully admitted. We drove to the CVS and got some water bottles, snacks, etc. and my husband got some dinner. Then we checked in again. At 9:00pm I was 3 1/2 cm, so I was dilating at about 1cm an hour which is good. We got officially admitted, and then it was go time.
I hated getting monitored, it was very inconvenient and invasive. That was every hour. I started to get into the zone and Derek was right by my side the whole way. I chose Hypnobirthing to help me deal with the labor, it’s basically just deep relaxation and positive affirmations. Not real hypnosis. My mom is a midwife by profession and Derek’s mom was a doula once, and we were fully expecting both moms to be there to help me. Because the baby came early like a thief in the night, neither was able to make it! It was just me and my husband. No family, sisters, friends, not even the nurses or midwives helped with labor a single bit. Derek kind of left me alone mentally, but physically he was right there for me. Words were very short. Miraculously, all I had to do was say a single word or flick my finger a certain way and he knew what I needed. I labored on the ball, walked a little, took a shower, etc. I used my Hypnobirthing techniques. It was extremely difficult, but I was determined. Things were fine and dandy (partially kidding) until 5:30am the next day… it was a normal, slowly progressing labor. Then, at 5:30am something was changing- I could feel it picking up and reaching an intensity I was not prepared for. Transition. Oh, how I was not prepared.
Transition and Delivery:
At 5:30, Erin broke my water. I was 8 1/2 cm. The transition phase is indescribable. There is nothing like it. I felt like Hypnobirthing had prepared me for the other contractions and that was all very do-able. This was not like that, this was insane. I was not prepared. Is it even possible to be prepared for that? It was so hard. With the previous very difficult contractions, with 3 very deep breaths, focus, and relaxation I could get through a contraction. But this was not the same. 20+ breaths and it still wasn’t over and it was way more painful. I was basically screaming and writhing in pain. Not to be negative, but that’s real. I have no idea what time I started to get into the pushing phase but my guess is about 6:10am or so. I couldn’t really hear or connect with the midwife and wasn’t sure if I was supposed to push, but I felt like I should, so I did. I didn’t know if he was 1 push away or 10 pushes away. I didn’t know where his head was, if he was a few inches up or crowning, I had no idea. Then, in one big push he just popped out! I didn’t know this until later, but apparently my midwife didn’t have time to get her gloves on so he kind of just plopped right onto the bed. It’s no big deal because it was just an inch or two away (I was squatting) and she just scooped him up and I heard his first little cry.
At this point, I had just felt his entire body come out of me in one big whoosh of relief but I was completely exhausted mentally and physically. I was practically out-of-body. I was completely hysterical, crying and bawling. It was physical and emotional. The physical relief was instant but I was emotionally spent. Erin said “turn around so I can put your baby on you.” But I said “I can’t, I can’t, I can’t move.” I think I looked back at Derek before I actually turned around. It took a good half minute before I was able to turn around and see my baby, and there he was. Erin was holding him and she put him right in my arms. His little body wasn’t covered in vernix. He was just freshly purple and wet and… perfect. I just cried. He stopped crying and his eyes were open and he was just staring at me as I bawled. I remember saying “My baby, this is my baby.” “Oh my gosh, oh my gosh” between sobs.
Post Birth Care:
Erin delivered my placenta and it was super easy for me. Derek’s mom arrived that night, and we had a nice hospital stay. We were able to go home the next day with our little guy who we named Benson.
Luckily, my recovery physically was easy and fast. I honestly thought that through Hypnobirthing I would have a very peaceful birth and could avoid a lot of the pain of labor and delivery (that’s what it teaches). After experiencing it, I have no idea how anyone could “avoid the pain.” Bless them, but I couldn’t do it apparently! It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. But I would do it again in a heartbeat, and I plan to. I absolutely do feel a great sense of strength and empowerment for having him naturally and with very little outside help. To know I fully felt and experienced every ounce of his birth is precious to me and in a sense, I cherish that pain. Despite the challenges, I do not regret having a natural birth at all. It was the best choice for me. I don’t feel like Benson’s birth was a flowery experience. But I’ll never forget how within minutes I was bonded with my sweet little baby that I had worked months and months to grow, and hours and hours to deliver. And in that very instant he was placed on me and the pain was over, I felt in a very very deep place within me that life was now beginning.”