Hayden’s Birth Story

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Hayden turned 6 weeks old yesterday, and the memories of his birth are still very fresh in my mind and my heart, but certain details seem to be fading just a bit.  I never thought I’d share a birth story of one of my kids, and I’ll be quite honest, I’m not sure how many of you will even be interested in reading this, but since a few of readers and friends had asked about my drug free birth, I thought I’d just put it out there.  Move along if you have no interest in hearing about this, but would of course love for you to stick around.

Let me start by saying that my reasons for having a drug-free birth are probably a bit unconventional.  They were largely based on my previous two birth experiences, and not a whole lot to do with trying to be a hero, or the potential risks, or because I’m a crazy granola crunching hippie (not that there’s anything wrong with granola hippies, I actually call quite a few of them my friends and I did encapsulate my placenta, so I guess I’m a bit of a hippie).

Let me give you a bit of history and Taylor and Syd’s births, as those experiences are primarily what helped me come to my decision to have a drug free birth with Hayden.  I was induced with Taylor 1 week prior to her due date because of some slight irregularities in her heartbeat.  I was a nervous first-time mom, and my doctor felt that to ease my mind and fears, induction would be perfectly safe and healthy for me and baby.  So induced I was, and the experience ended up being quite clinical feeling in nature.  At one point I had 4 different tubes running up me, and while it wasn’t necessarily a painful experience, it was very uncomfortable.  I just remember feeling like I was sort of at the mercy of the nurses and my doctors, and not necessarily in control, laying there on the hospital bed unable to move and even feel enough to know when to push. At the end of a 5 hour labor I gave birth to a healthy baby girl and everything turned out beautifully, but I was left knowing that it wasn’t the experience I wanted next time.

Syd came fast and furious.  I went into labor at 3 am and it was 6:30 am by the time contractions got painful enough that I thought I needed to go in to the hospital.  I don’t think I necessarily have a high threshold for pain, it just wasn’t that intense of a labor.  It was 7 am when we got to the hospital and to everyone’s surprise, I was already 9cm dilated.  I had never intended to try and go drug free with this birth, and I was scared as hell to push without any drugs, so I asked for an epidural, to which they surprisingly agreed to give.  By the time they got the epidural in and going, it was time for me to push and it never even took effect, something we discovered when the doctor went to stitch me up and I felt the first bit of needle hit me.  I remember thinking that having to stay still during the insertion of the epidural, while riding out a contraction, was horrendous, and at the end wasn’t even worth it.

And I’m cheap, and paying for that epidural was definitely not worth it.  Since we are self-insured, we have a high deductible, and then a 80/20 split after the deductible is met, so we still have to pay part of every procedure that takes place while in the hospital, and anesthesiologists are expensive.

If I look scared here, it’s because I was

Which lead me to my decision to not get an epidural with Hayden.  I figured if my labor was anything like it was with Syd’s, I could tolerate it.  It wouldn’t be a cake walk, but I felt confident that I could handle it.

I woke up at 2 am with slight contractions.  Within an hour they were 15 minutes apart and I woke Art.  My doctor had instructed me to go in as soon as they started to get more than slightly uncomfortable, and were consistently 10-15 minutes apart.  So we called my mom and mother in law, and we got ready to head to the hospital.

By the time we got there and got checked in, I was only dilated to 2 cm.  Womp womp.  I was so disappointed because already my contractions were almost as intense as they had been with Syd, and I was barely at a 2.  I told the nurses that I intended to go drug free and they all cheered me on and encouraged me, but I was scared guys.  At about 4 cm I started crying, in a sad sort of whimpering way.  I remember burying my head in Art’s shoulder and just saying over and over again, “I’m scared, I’m scared.”  Everyone told me that now was the time to get the epidural if I wanted it, but by that point I dug my heels in and decided I needed to just continue with the plan.

And guys, I’ll be honest, the plan sucked.  I had convinced myself that because this was my third baby, it was somehow going to be easier, quicker and less painful than the previous two.  Never had it even occurred to me that it would be harder.  But it was.

I did a lot of things to get through the contractions.  I prayed A LOT.  I asked God for strength, for courage, for Him to help ease the pain.  I walked the halls of the maternity ward up and down for about an hour.  The nurses had me check back in every 45 minutes to get hooked up to the monitor to make sure everything was okay, but in between being monitored I was free to walk around.  I rocked back and forth in Art’s arms with him rubbing my back.  But most of all I sat upright and swayed back and forth a lot.  I can’t imagine having to lie down during a contraction the entire labor. When they had to check me each time, it was pure torture to be in that position during a contraction.

The first 2 hours I was at the hospital were grueling, and it seems to take my body forever just to get to 6 cm.  When they checked me in, they noted that I had tested positive for B strep so I was going to have to get antibiotics right away.  I wasn’t prepared for this, something my doctor must have completely forgotten to tell me at my last check up, and something I had forgot to ask about.  I guess the third time around you just sort of take things a bit more casually, on both sides.  Getting the IV was awful as always and I think the nurses doubted my ability to have a drug free birth based solely on my reaction to the IV, complete with sweat and tears.  Once the IV was in and the antibiotics started flowing I calmed down a bit.

The last hour was definitely the hardest, when I experienced the most intense pain.  I transitioned from 6-9 in that hour, and while the pain was never so intense that I “screamed”, I definitely remember doing a lot of moaning and tearing up.  I was listening to music to get me through the first part of labor, but in this last hour I had to have almost complete silence.  I turned off the music, and yelled at my mom to get out when she started to have a conversation on the phone with my dad about my progress.  This is also the time when I yelled at Art to do something and not just stare at me.  I know he was tired, but for a while in that last hour he was sort of in a trance at times and I just remember looking at him, just sort of staring through me as I tried to get through the pain and I got SO MAD.  I told him to do something, anything, to at least show me he was in the game.  Rub my back (he was afraid to touch me at that point), say encouraging words (he was afraid to say the wrong thing).  I assured him doing nothing was the wrong thing to do ;)

The thing I remember most vividly in that last hour or so is the counting.  I was now hooked up to the monitor continuously, and I was watching that my contractions were lasting about 1 minute, and the most intense pain was from 20-30 seconds in, and then it started to subside.  So I began counting, and I knew that if I could just make it to 25 seconds, I was half way through the hardest part and it would get better soon.  I counted over and over again and it was seriously the biggest help.  Within a few contractions I had Art, my mom and the nurses all counting with me.

The last time they came and checked me I was at a 10, and then it all happened so fast.  My doctor rushed in, they pulled out the stirrups and told me to slide down, and my doctor told me on the next contraction to start pushing.  I remember having a very real “what the eff?!?” moment.  I felt like there was no time to prepare, even though I had prepared for months theoretically.  The part I most feared was here and it was time for me to perform, and that terrified me to no end.  I started crying, after enduring 7 hours of labor and looked at my doctor and just flat out said, “I’m scared, I can’t do this.”  She could tell I was terrified and just told me I had to and that I was the only one that could get this baby out.  She was so serious and stern and it was exactly what I needed to hear.  Art also reminded me that we now were going to see if I was carrying a boy or girl, and that was a pretty big incentive to start pushing.

So when that next contraction came I pushed like crazy.  I pushed twice during that first contraction and got the crown of his head out.  In the next contraction, I got his head out in the first push, and then one more push and his shoulders and body came out.  2 contractions, 4 pushes, and 4 minutes later, Hayden was born, at 9:20 am.  Art yelled “It’s a boy!” (I think my doctor forgot we didn’t know so Art made the announcement), and they put him on my chest and I immediately thought he looked just like Syd.  He was just beautiful.

He wasn’t breathing at first so the baby nurse started suctioning and rubbing him on my chest and within a few seconds he let out a wail and started breathing.  I remember once I knew he was alright, then feeling intense pain though.  I started yelling “it hurts, it hurts!  Why does it hurt so much?”  I remember when they pulled Syd out I felt an immediate rush of relief, but with Hayden the pain was not subsiding once I delivered him, and seemed to be getting worse.  My doctor tugged on the umbilical cord and asked if it hurt and I screamed.  They then helped me deliver the placenta, which was such intense pain, and once that was out I finally felt better.  I remember being in so much pain that I couldn’t even touch him and I kept saying to him, “I’m so sorry baby, mommy will hold you in just a minute.” The nurses were just sort of holding him on my chest for the time being because I couldn’t even move.  I later learned that the pain of delivering the placenta usually gets more intense with each baby because more scar tissue builds up.  Anyone else experience this?

So once that God awful pain was over, I held him skin to skin for quite a while before they started to examine him, at least 20 minutes I would say, and I nursed for the first time, which he took to right out of the womb (later we would have some issues with him latching but immediately he did just fine).  We stayed in the labor and delivery room for about an hour, just the three of us, and the staff of course, and by that time my mother in law had picked up the kids and they came to meet their baby brother.

Taylor was immediately smitten and took over as big sister right away.  Syd was not so sure and looked really scared.  He made Taylor come with him to say hi to the baby, and he didn’t want to hold him at first.  Both of their reactions were so true to each of their personalities in general; mothering and nurturing, and apprehensive and shy. I remember feeling so beyond complete when all 5 of us were together for the first time.  I know that sounds cheesy and all, but it was true.  It just felt right, natural.  Like he had always been a part of us, we were just waiting for him to arrive.  And you know what?  6 weeks later, and it still feels that way.

Recovery in the first 24 hours went really well, and I do think it was because I was able to get up and move around right after the birth, primarily due to the drug free birth.  Healing in general was the same as with the other two.

Friends have asked if I would go drug free again, and quite honestly, I’m not so sure.  Yes, I am glad I experienced it at least once.  I felt so proud of myself afterwards and elated that I had done it.  I was impressed with my body’s ability to work as nature intended it to work, without intervention from medicine.  But I was also a bit traumatized by the experience.  It was a really scary feeling, and as much as I felt in control, I also felt completely vulnerable and out of control if that makes sense.  The pain was what it was and there wasn’t anything I could do about it but just bear through it.  That’s a pretty humbling experience in and of itself.  At one point during the labor I looked at Art and with gritted teeth said, “I don’t want to ever, ever do this again.”  And my God I mean it.  I think if your intent is to go drug free, then you should try it, but I don’t think it’s a badge of honor that I need to carry around.  At the end of the day, no one really cares how he came to be in this world, via C-section, vaginal, drugs or no drugs.  He’s here, he’s healthy, and he’s perfect.

If you’ve read any of my postpartum journey on my other blog, you may know that I’ve dealt with Postpartum Depression after both of my previous deliveries.  This time around I decided to encapsulate my placenta, you can read about it here, to help with the PPD.  Six weeks postpartum and I am feeling as great as a tired momma of 3 can feel during this stage.  I have had no signs of the PPD creeping back in.  A lot of it has to do with the place in my life right now, I’m older and wiser and more experienced as a mother.  But I feel like a lot of my good health this time around has to do with those pills, even if my OB doesn’t think so.  At any rate, weather it’s hocus pocus, a placebo effect, or they are actually working, I’m happy and in love with this little guy, and I finally know what it feels like to be on a baby-moon.



Andrea is the founder of For The Love Of, a lifestyle blog dedicated to approachable, modern living. She writes about style, her love of DIY, and living a healthier life through wholesome, nutritious cooking. She is also a regular contributor at Babble. Get in touch: Facebook, Twitter You can find Andrea on Instagram @andreavhowe and @gwynethmademedoit

  • amber says:

    oh this brought tears to my eyes and ever so many emotions and memories of my time in the hospital just shy of 8 months ago.
    You’re a rock star for going drug free as I don’t think I’d have the balls to do that. I know what you mean about it feeling like he was always a part of you all – when Cam came to see her brother and Damon handed him to her I just cried because I felt like my heart was going to burst. This was MY family and it seemed like it was always this way. It truly doesn’t matter how he got here so long as he’s healthy, you’re happy and everyone is living and loving.

  • LOVE hearing your story!!! And I’m SO SO SO glad the PPD hasn’t hit you this time around. Praise God for a healthy bebe and a healthy mama!

  • Catie says:

    Thank you so much for posting Hayden’s amazing birth story. I’m 38 weeks pregnant with our first and your honesty and bravery is really inspiring, especially since I’m just getting to that point where everything is becoming very, very “real”, and also a little scary, if that makes any sense. Having a history of slight depression and fatigue, I’ve also been considering placental encapsulation so your reports back on that have been really helpful as well. Thank you for sharing these parts of your life!

  • Beautiful birth story! I loved reading it. Congratulations to you; he is just absolutely PERFECT!

  • Crying.
    Praise the Lord for this!
    I loved every minute of this story.

    God is good.

  • lori says:

    thank you for sharing haydens birth story! i loved reading it. i love the picture of taylor holding hayden, she looks so comfortable and proud!

    congrats again on your sweet family.

  • Beautifully written, raw, real and amazing! I am so glad you shared! You have a beautiful family, my friend!

  • Susan G says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. It’s important for women to hear the good and the bad, and it’s brave to put it all out there. Beautiful family!

  • Jules says:

    This was so great, Andrea. I laughed at you losing your temper with Art, and his reasons for sitting there like a bump on a log. He’s so sweet, and reminds me of my husband. He did the same thing during Mikey’s delivery!

  • kristen says:

    This made me cry! We don’t even know each other, but I am so proud of you!!! Due to complications I had to have my two kids via c-sections and I have the UPMOST respect for you and how you brought your sweet Hayden into the world. Thank you for sharing your story with us. {{hug}}

    • Andrea Andrea says:

      I think even though we don’t know each other, as women and mothers we can all relate on some level when it comes to the birth of our babies, no matter how they came to be in this world :)

  • Miranda says:

    I loved reading all the details – nicely done friend!

  • Heather says:

    Thanks for sharing your story. I am always fascinated by other womens’ birth stories. I was induced both times (for different reasons) and I sort of feel like I missed out on something. But at the end of the day, both my kids were healthy so it doesn’t matter how they got here. Thanks for your honesty!

  • Natasha Rooney says:

    Thanks for this Andrea. I love birth stories. I had an epidural with my first after an unsuccessful hour pushing and the contractions easing off. For my second and third I had only entonox or “gas and air” as we call it in the UK. I have noticed that this drug does not appear to be used in the US for some reason. I found it absolutely amazing. Still very painful but it took the edge off and made me feel very in control of the labour. You breathe it in through a tube, which encourages you to take huge deep breaths of oxygen which is good for the baby. My second labour was the best. Gave birth on all fours, which I think helped a lot. Felt mentally most in control with my third though. Would never have an epidural again if I could avoid it. Sometimes it is necessary though and I would certainly never judge anyone who has one. As you say, it doesn’t matter one bit how they come out. I was also very surprised by how painful the passing of the placenta was the third time around. I recall finding it almost painless second time around and was expecting the same once my third was born. Recovery after my third was also a little slower but four months later it already feels like a distant memory. :)

  • {darlene} says:

    thank you for sharing!!! beautiful. strong. momma!

  • Look, look, I’m commenting! ;)
    Thanks so much for sharing this with us, and with such honesty and openness.
    Glad you all made it through your first 6 weeks!

  • Corinne says:

    I can relate to this story in so many ways! I too (I instagrammed you about this :)) felt SO much better emotionally after my drug-free birth. I swear the baby high lasted for months. (Part of it was– I couldn’t believe that I.did.that.) Labor went faster for me when it was natural for some reason. And when I felt the urge to push, the urge was so strong I felt I could not stop it, that my body was going to push whether I liked it or not! My baby was almost born in the tub becuase of this :), but the nurse and my hubby helped me to the bed just in time– that baby was coming out! The doc missed it. :) And you are right, that placenta hurts like crazy! And I hurt for 20 mins or so after, but then I felt GREAT. The only thing I missed was bonding with the baby right off the bat with no pain– I was kind of focused on the crazy pain in my rear end for a few minutes. :) I totally agree that it helped my labor not knowing what the gender was, either– gave me an incentive to make it through! If I could do it again, I’d mentally prepare myself better, if that is possible, and maybe even pay a Doula. When you’re in the throes, it would help so much to have a supporter!

    I loved your story and your pictures– so beautiful. You have such a refreshing blog. Sorry for the mini post. Here is a link to my post: http://www.iamamormonmom.blogspot.com/2011/05/its-boy.html

  • Jane says:

    Such a wonderful story! I can relate: My son (my first) is almost 5 months, and his birth was a wonderful experience. I went drug-free as well, telling myself for months that my body knew what it needed to do, etc. My labor was really fast: went from 3 to 6 cm in an hour, and 6 to 10 in 4 minutes, so that also contributed to the experience. I can honestly say that it wasn’t pain, but super intense pressure. I definitely couldn’t have done it without my husband.

  • Vanessa says:

    So glad I moved over today from fourflights, because I really wanted to read this! Thank you for sharing. You look so pretty in those first pics after Hayden was born!

  • Stephanie says:

    Thanks so much for sharing your birth story! And a huge high-five for doing it drug free. That is amazing! I also have 3 kiddos and had my last baby 7 months ago. I was induced with my first and 3rd and had an epidural with all three (but it didn’t work with the first). There were many things in your birth story that were similar to mine, except, I wimped out and had the epi all three times. With my second, I was also 9cm when I arrived at the hospital. I thought I could brave it out and not get the epi, but I gave in and got one. After both my 1st and 2nd babies were born, AS SOON AS THEY WERE OUT, I felt immidiate relief, but not with the third…. I was still in so much pain and I didn’t know why. It wasn’t until I delivered the placenta that I felt relief. It makes total sense what you said about having scar tissue so delivering the placenta with each subsequent baby hurts more. I had always wondered why I was still in pain until the placenta came out… now I know! Anyway, sorry for the long comment. Thank you for sharing your story and I love, love, love your blog…. I’ve been following at Fourflights for a few years now. Enjoy that little baby of yours! It goes by so fast (as you already know).

  • Tracie says:

    Thank you for this honest account. You write in a very open and non judgemental way. I am just so sick of the birth story where everything is perfect and there is lots of self congratulations. But congrats to you on your 3 beautiful kids. And well done, that did sound like a lot of hard work!

  • Katie L says:

    What an amazing birth story. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences. Those are the intimate moments of your life that shape the person you are, and its really awesome that you wanted to share Hayden’s moment of entering the world with all of us. I’m expecting my first baby in April and I can’t thank you more for your honesty. Thanks for taking the time to write this post, I know I appreciate it. You have a beautiful family. God bless :)

  • Emily says:

    This totally made me cry, recalling this August 27th and my own labor. We were laboring at the EXACT same time while our well-meaning husbands sat quietly (too quietly!) watching and waiting. I’m laying in bed nursing Jackson as I type this; there’s a massive lump in my throat and my eyelids are threatening to give way any moment. I look at him and I smell him and I hear his tiny, snorty breaths and I’m just so overwhelmed with gratitude for having had the chance to do this one last time. Five is our perfect number, too. Thank you for sharing this! I so loved re-living our son’s (questionable apostrophe placement, there) birthday with you. :)

  • Anna says:

    Oh, such a wonderful story! I’m sitting now and crying my eyes out, rememembering the birth of my boy, 20 mths old now. You are AMAZING, to go through that without any pain relief! I had such an easy birth, planned C-section (he never turned and was big), I personally never had any regrets whatsoever. But your post was just so great, a reminder how many ways they choose to come to us!

    P.S. I’ve read your post about comments and can’t agree more, in fact :)

  • Susan says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. I love that mothers everywhere can connect through our experiences. I’ve given birth to five babies now, and each of them has their own unique story of labor and delivery. My first was through induction on his due date, and it was an extremely clinical experience, as you described. I was only twenty and was sadly very willingly ignorant and went along with whatever I was told to do. That includes an epidural, elective episiotomy, stirrups, the works. I love my son dearly, but after his birth I made an internal note that I would never labor that way again – if it was within my power to choose. Number two was born in a birthing center with the help of three midwives. That is an Easter morning that I will never forget. I couldn’t believe the difference I experienced in being able to feel the transition period and as scared as I was to see what the pains of labor were like without pain medication, I learned that, for me, they were tough, but not as horrifying as I’d imagined. I needed only one stitch and went home about six hours later. Number three was born with the help of a midwife but in a hospital. I honestly don’t remember much of her birth, only that as soon as I allowed the realization that I HAD to push out another kid, it was quick and even easier seeming than the second. “Mind over matter” I joked. I required no stitches, but learned during the last recovery with number two that being cared for in the hospital is something I appreciate – when you are far away from family and friends, especially! Number four was at a hospital in a birthing center with a midwife and doula. And never again will I labor without a doula. She was amazing and is now a dear friend. I consider that labor to be a complete and total miracle. I can say with all honesty that the pushing part was completely pain free – I did not even realize she was coming and within one minute she was in my arms. I had been standing up, and made the mental note to deliver any future babies in this position. Best labor ever! No stitching required, but… The after contractions were so painful that I was in tears many times on into the next morning, despite taking the highest recommended pain medication dosage allowed. Number five was just born this past November, and because of number four being pain free and so quick, I was expecting/hoping/counting on the same. My doula was there, my mind was focused and had accepted that I had to gently push out my baby, and I attempted to deliver while standing, but there would be no miraculous pain free birth story this time – and this baby ended up being almost two pounds smaller! I describe her birth as intense and quick, but certainly not pain free. In fact, after I had birthed her head, I was certain that I must have birthed her entirely – even though I knew that was impossible. However, my recovery afterward was amazing. Our first night together was peaceful and painless. And I’ll take the pains of labor over the after pains any day! Every birth story is different, just as every child is. Again, thanks for sharing yours. I think it is beautiful to see how our labors and children can shape us in such wonderful ways.

  • Susan says:

    I also meant to comment that these pictures are just as beautiful and honest as your story. Fear, relief, pain, joy, family… Blessings.

  • What a beautiful story! I had my first child 9 months ago and it was certainly an experience, but perfect for me. :-) I battled PPD for a couple of months and I still resent all of my fellow mommy friends who were immediately in love with their babies. You’ve definitely given me hope that if I’m blessed and have another baby, I may not have PPD again. Hayden is perfect and job well done mommy! :-)

  • Jaime says:

    Thanks for this! I teared up during the part where you described the counting out loud, for some reason! I have 2 babies and my second was without meds. I told my husband that next time, Im getting the epidural! ;)

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