Women are Warriors
How do I describe Jaime? Warmhearted. Passionate. Balanced.
I met Jaime soon after moving to Austin, and she quickly became one of my best friends (and my favorite neighbor). At the time I was just starting my doula career and she was in her second trimester with her first baby. We found ourselves sharing everything birth - articles, books, birth stories, and exercises. It was such a fun time! She introduced me to essential oils, prenatal yoga, and this crazy yummy drink called Kombucha (where had that been all my life?).
Shortly after meeting, she and her husband chose for me to be their birth doula, which I was super excited about. I met their OB at a prenatal appointment, joined Jaime for a few prenatal yoga classes, and felt many kicks from their baby girl. All these experiences only made their birth that much more special for me!
Since her baby's birthday on 12/12/16, we've both replayed the story a ton and shared our unforgettable memories together; each time I find myself inspired by her strength and dedication throughout her prenatal, birth and postpartum journey. So I asked Jaime to share her birth story with us...
General timeline of my birth:
- 9:00am on Dec. 11th - Felt first contraction.
- 12:30pm - Woke up from a nap, and the contractions had stopped.
- 2:00pm - Walked around the neighborhood with my husband, stomped some curbs. :) Contractions started up again.
- 6:00pm - Contractions are 40 seconds long, 3.5 minutes apart.
- 8:00pm - Contractions had picked up. Becky came over to check in with us and encouraged me to get in the bath to help relax. Being in the tub felt great! I think that's when I realized I was in labor for real, because it was just me and the water - no distractions. The shower/tub has always been my reset button. So when I wasn't resetting, I thought "ok, this must be labor".
- 11:00pm - I got into bed. Contractions were really intense at this point - I'm not really sure what I was thinking that I would just "go to bed". I fell asleep in between some contractions... so did my husband! Sometime between this and 2:00am, I remember thinking, "if I'm only at 4cm, there's no way I can do this without medicine".
- 1:30am - Husband asks me if I want to go to hospital. I say no. Becky says "let's go!"
- 2:30am - We leave for hospital, I had to work through some contractions on the way to the car. Pretty sure I was either ready to push or going through transition in the car on the way there. (Do NOT recommend!)
- 2:50am - Arrive to hospital, work through two contractions on the Emergency Room floor while we wait for the nurse to get us. The third contraction comes and I felt the urge to push. They get me kneeling on the wheelchair and we head to maternity from the ER check-in.
- 3:00am - I get checked, am complete and ready to push, but my doctor isn't there. They say he is on his way if I can wait - which I do!
- My doctor arrived, broke my waters and saw meconium. I started pushing and she was born after 3 pushes, at 3:52am!
Was the labor and birth process anything like you expected?
Yes and no. I'm not sure any amount of preparation can set expectations where they need to be for such a physical, emotional, and spiritual experience - and I read nearly every birthing book and blogpost, listened to all the podcasts, and totally immersed myself into the birthing world... and I still came through the experience saying, "Whoa." I labored the entire time at home, so it is hard for me to know what stage I was at when. I can say that early labor was what I expected - I knew I was having contractions, but I could carry on with my day. I also labored how I expected to: mostly by myself. However, because of all my preparation, I did expect myself to be a little more active or interactive with my husband... but that just was not the case! One of the main aspects of labor I found surprising was how contractions affected my entire body. I had expected the pain through my abdomen and lower back, but was surprised by how much my arms and legs tensed up during each contraction as things progressed, despite my best attempts at breathing and relaxing. I also did not expect it to go as quickly as it did. My husband kept asking, "Should I let my boss know I won't be at work tomorrow?" and I kept telling him not to call, that this could go on for days and days. Pushing was also super hard. You have to somehow use your abs which you haven't used in 9 months, after hours of laboring and your body is just so exhausted!
What was your favorite way/position to labor?
Laying on my side in bed. Then when contractions came I would roll into child's pose.
What was the most difficult part of your labor or birth?
I think the most difficult part of labor was not really knowing how far along I was at any given point, because I wasn't sure when to go to the hospital. Thank goodness for Becky! Without her, our birth story would be so different and likely not end positively.
The contractions are definitely challenging. I had heard a lot of positive stories, including the ones about contractions even being enjoyable. While I didn't know about them being enjoyable, I definitely went into it thinking mind over matter - they can't be that bad. Here's the thing: they CAN be that hard and strong and intense. But here's the other thing: YOU can do it! It really is a unique pain in that the specific pain that comes with contractions ends as soon as your baby comes out.
Looking back, would you do anything differently?
I would make sure we knew how to time contractions! And maybe get to the hospital like 30-60 minutes earlier than we did.
How would you describe your recovery? Would you recommend anything in particular for other Moms?
I would describe it as a journey, and I think it is so important for mamas to prioritize their recovery as they settle into home with their new baby. That's going to look different for every woman. It was challenging for me as I do not like "feeling off" - and I felt very off. It took a week for me to be able to sit without a 'donut'. I took only Ibuprofen for my recovery, because I didn't want anything more intense than that. I would tell other non c-section moms to stock up at home with the "must-haves" (in my opinion) - Dermaplast, adult diapers, witch hazel, a few pairs of comfy button-down pajamas, a robe, warm socks. I strongly encourage others to ask for help when you need it - and even when you don't think you do. It's okay to hold your baby all day and it's okay to step away when you need to. Make an appointment with a lactation consultant - they're worth their weight in gold! Have a time in the day where you do something that resets or fills you up - for me, it was a shower with essential oils and all the goods for an at-home facial. Binge watch your favorite shows. The emotional roller coaster will come - share with your spouse, parent, sibling, doula, or friend. Acknowledge the feeling, sit in it for a minute, and let it roll. Get fresh air, drink plenty of water and eat life-giving food.
Has your perspective of birth changed since having your baby?
Wow, yes. What an intense experience! I am a huge feeler - in our Yoga for Birth & Delivery workshop the instructor asked us to rate what we believe the experience would be on a scale of 0-100 of intensity. I was thinking, "What a silly question, of course everyone will say 100." I was surprised when I was the only one who said 100. It is beautiful and messy and hard and overwhelming and wild and love-filled. Women are warriors.