An Accidental Natural Birth Story – A Hinsdale Adventist Hospital Birth Story

natural birth story, drug free, Western Springs,

I didn’t really have a birth plan.  I assumed I would want an epidural, but also thought let’s see how everything goes. I was due on Saturday, April 11th.  On each visit to my ob-gyn throughout the last 3 weeks of my pregnancy I had no dilation during my cervical checks.  On my visit a few days before my due date, I ended up crying at the appointment and begging my doctor to set an induction date for Monday the 13th.  She would not do it and calmed my hysterics by telling me that I was young, healthy – that there was no reason I couldn’t do a vaginal birth, and that setting an induction date too early increased chances of a c-section.  She set my induction for April 17th, but warned that if I had no signs of dilation by then that she would not induce unless it was medically necessary.

I was still working, so I passed my time focusing on getting things done at work.  I drank raspberry redleaf tea, walked as much as a 9 month pregnant lady can, etcetera, all in the name of getting labor started.  I remember waking up around 2:30 am on Sunday the 12th with period-like cramps and was excited, but nothing else happened, so I just went back to sleep.

On Sunday the 12th (Easter), I remember feeling off and would randomly have period-like cramps.  I also had diarrhea a few times.  These signs made me hopeful that my body was heading in the right direction.

Monday April 13th, (2 days past my due date), I got up and got ready for work.  My plan this week was to work shorter, half days until my induction date and just hope for the best.  I was still having the period-like cramps, but nothing really consistent to track.  My mom had told me this could go on for days, so I wasn’t feeling too positive.  At work, I jokingly would tell my secretary and boss when I would have them.  At one point, maybe around 1 pm, I realized that I had had 3 that lasted over a minute each in the span of 45 minutes.  This was the most frequent they had ever been, and to be honest, I am used to bad period cramps, so I kept thinking when is this really going to start?  I ended up leaving my office at 2 pm to go home and rest.  I said “see you tomorrow!”  to everyone, really thinking that I would.

When I got home, my husband had just gotten home early and I gave him the update.  I thought I would take a nap, wake up, go to Target to get a few last minute things.  At that point I was continuing to have mild contractions 10-15 minutes apart.  Pain wise, I would still categorize it as serious period cramps.  I remember talking to my mom on the phone telling her what was up, and talking to my mother-in-law as well, but I still didn’t think I was in labor.  

My husband left the house around 4 to do a quick errand.  In the hour or so he was gone, I went #2 (which I was excited about because I was hoping to empty out before going to the hospital!  Crazy pregnant girl thoughts.) and realized I was losing my mucus plug.  I also felt that all of a sudden these contractions were coming so fast and so unexpectedly that I was struggling to catch my breath.  The pain was considerably worse where I felt like I had to lay on my side and breathe through each contraction to get through it.  I began timing my contractions on an app, though I don’t remember how fast they were coming at this time.  I remember thinking this is happening so fast, and this pain already is so bad!

When my husband came home at 5, I was in the fetal position on the couch breathing through a contraction.  I think he realized I was actually in labor before I did.  He made a few calls (to work, to make sure our dog would be taken care of, etc), and then made me scrambled eggs, sausage, and toast, which I had said I really wanted to eat in the middle of a contraction!

The next 3 or 4 hours are a blur to me.  I think I ate a little bit in between contractions, and then decided I needed to take a shower and do my hair and makeup, anticipating that I would go to the hospital at some point that night.  Bad idea.  The water hitting my body felt like knives, unexpectedly making me feel nauseated.  I was laying in the shower trying to convince myself to finish, while my husband stood outside the shower timing contractions.  He kept telling me we should go to the hospital, but I had myself so convinced I would be turned away and that my contractions weren’t frequent enough.  I have no idea why I thought this, because looking back, they were 3-4 minutes apart and I felt like I had no break to catch my breath.  I had to mentally talk myself through the steps of getting dressed between contractions, one article of clothing at a time.  Around 9 pm we called the hospital and decided it was time to go.  I had to psych myself up mentally for each step of putting on shoes, walking to the door, getting into the car, etc.

The 5 minute car ride to the hospital was hell.  I swear, it felt like a half hour car ride.  I already knew I would not be able to walk into the hospital.  All I could think was: “Get to labor and delivery. Get an epidural immediately”.  The security guard grabbed me a wheelchair, and up we went to labor and delivery.  

When I got there, I vaguely remember filling out a form, telling them who my doctor was, and a nice nurse asking what my plan was for pain management.  I screamed “Give me an epidural right now!” Once I’d been assessed I remember the nurse saying “We might not have time to get you that epidural…you’re already dilated 7 cm.”  At first I thought she was joking.  Then I started panicking and crying, saying “You have to get me some medicine, I can’t do this.”  She was very nice and calm, and told me “Ok, let’s get you set up and get your IV started, but you need a liter of fluid before we can give you an epidural.”  My husband later told me that everyone in that room knew that the drugs would not be happening, but were trying to keep me calm and focus on one thing on a time.  I’m not sure why, but at this point, I still didn’t realize that I would be having a baby soon.  It wasn’t until I noticed how quickly everyone was moving and getting things set up, the nurse telling me that they called Dr. Napolitano, (who was the on-call doctor luckily!) and that she was on her way, that I realized wow, I must be close if they already have the doctor coming.

Before she showed up, I remember all of a sudden screaming and feeling such intense pressure that I had not felt before.  The nurse checked me again (this was only 10 or 15 minutes after I had gotten there) and told me I was at 8 cm, and that my bag of water was bulging out and hadn’t broken, and that was the pressure I was feeling.  I can only describe the pain at this point as feeling like I was going to die.  I remember telling my husband this at some point, and he and the nurse were convincing me no, you will not die and you can get through this.

When Dr. Napolitano came in, she was her usual nice, joking self, but asked me if I knew how to push or if I had taken any classes.  I very seriously told her yes I had, but that I didn’t pay attention to the pain-free portion because I knew I wanted an epidural.  She said well, we are going to have to do this the old fashioned way, and I’m going to talk you through it.

And talk me through it she did.  I was very quickly at 10 cm, and she told me it was time to push.  From what I remember, it was my husband, 2 nurses, Dr. Napolitano, and 2 residents observing in the room with me.  The odd thing was, once I was fully dilated, my contractions slowed down, so they did 3 rounds of Pitocin to pick them back up for pushing, since the first 2 rounds had the adverse effect; slowing things down even more.  Once the third round went in, WHAM.  I can’t even explain the pain.  Dr. Napolitano told me after my first push that I needed to not hold back and while pushing, “once you get to the point where it feels unnatural and that you want to stop what you’re doing, focus on, and push through that”.  People have described it as the sensation of pooping, which is pretty accurate, but on a much more painful scale!  I remember the sensation of feeling such intense pressure bearing down that I felt like my insides were going to fall out.  I pushed for a little over an hour, with the final two pushes being so painful (the ring of fire that I had heard so much about!) that I mentally blacked out and didn’t even know my baby was born!  My husband told me we had a son (we didn’t know what we were having) and I heard the most beautiful little cries fill the room.  It was 12:34 am, and he was 20.5 inches and 7 pounds 10 ounces.  Finding out the sex of the baby at birth was so rewarding, and I know it was fun for my husband to tell me what we had.

The nurses wiped him up and immediately put him on my chest.  I couldn’t believe how small he was.  Dr. Napolitano kind of pulled on the cord and pulled out the placenta, and showed it to us.  My son latched onto my breast right away as well, which was just an amazing and peaceful experience after what I felt was a traumatic birth in that moment.

The great thing about NOT having the epidural was that I was able to get up and walk to the bathroom right away (with the nurse’s help).  Looking back, I did feel traumatized by the pain from the birth, but now I love that I didn’t have an epidural and would consider giving birth naturally again.  I never ever would have planned that and have no issue at all with pain medication (and would have preferred to have the epidural), but knowing that I was able to do it without is sort of empowering.  Dr. Napolitano and the nurses really did talk me through everything and did a great job of keeping me calm once they realized how scared, panicked and unprepared I was.  With their help I barely tore and had what they called “rug burns” from stretching, which only needed 2 stitches to stop the minimal bleeding.

The nurses at Hinsdale Hospital were amazing and really focused on making breastfeeding a positive experience.  We took advantage of the nursery at night to get a little rest, and the nurses brought my son to me every 2-3 hours to nurse.  They had ice packs, Epifoam, pads, diapers, and all sorts of “goodies” to take home.  Overall, I loved my experience at Hinsdale Hospital.  The nurses were all wonderful, and I love my doctor group as well.  Dr. Napolitano exceeded my expectations.  I had heard some people choose midwives because doctors will stroll in when you push and that’s it.  Maybe my experience was unusual, but she talked me through everything, for which I am so thankful.

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