38.5 is the number of hours I labored for to bring Tennyson into this world. Often times when I would hear of other women who would say "my labor took 'x' hours" I would cringe and silently pray for a miraculous 4-6 hour labor where everything went just the way it was suppose to be.
As most people know, I planned on laboring 100% naturally: No artificial hormones, pain killers, nothing. I also took hypnobirthing classes and practiced my hypnobirthing techniques in order to help myself get through each contraction throughout labor. So when people hear that my labor was 38.5 hours long their initial reaction/s were "well what went wrong" and "why didn't you go to a hospital" or "why didn't you do [insert suggestion here]". Well I'm happy to report that everything went perfectly (inspite of the 38.5 hour labor) and I wouldn't have changes one little bit of my entire experience. Actually, I would have changed just one part of the experience. But I'll get to that later.
I know people are just dying to know what happened and how on earth I was still able to deliver naturally. To everyone who sent me loving vibes and messages of strength I promise you they helped. I felt your love cheering me on and am so grateful for all the prayers that helped sustain me. Your out pour of love touched me so deeply.
Since labor I have learned that when someone has enough will power and determination to do what they know in their heart of hearts is best for their children, they WILL do it at what ever cost. Here is our story:
After our Valentines Day dinner in SLC, Tristin and I got home at 11pm and fell asleep at around 1am Saturday morning. Throughout that morning however I felt mild cramping that would come and go and got so excited that I was most likely in pre-labor. The cramping cycles kept me up most of the night but I eventually was able to get about 4 hours of sleep starting at 6am. By the time I woke, my pre-labor pains had gone away and I was really disappointed that my laboring day was not turning out to be that day.
However, that evening my pre-labor pains intensified by 11pm and by 12am Sunday the 16th I started to track my contractions hoping I was finally in the labor stage. From Saturday 11pm-Sunday 7am Tristin and I tracked my contractions but they were strangely sporadic and followed no pattern whatsoever. The intensity was severe but the intervals went from 5 minutes to 12 to 8 to 25, etc. When it came to the traditional signs of pre labor (aka false labor) and labor, I matched neither description. Perplexed, we called the midwives at 7:15am Sunday and asked them what they thought I should do. They said I could go in and they could check me or I could hold out and see if anything changes. Of course I chose the latter. *Side note: this is the one thing I would have changed about my labor story. I should have gone* How mortifying would it be if I made them go all the way into the office to check me and I was still in the pre labor stage and just being paranoid? My pride wouldn't go for that so we stayed at home and said we'd call when my contractions become consistent. In hind sight I realize that I had been in labor for 8 hours and had no idea. The whole of Sunday went by with the same patterns; some contractions extremely intense and others slightly more bearable, all of them having no consistency whatsoever. by 11pm Sunday (24 hours into labor) I called the midwives again and they suggested I go in to get checked.
One hour later (12am Monday morning) the midwives told me great news. Not only was Baby PERFECTLY health and happy with the strongest little heartbeat ever but I was NOT in pre labor/false labor like I thought I had been but that I had actually been in full blown labor for the past 25 hours and was 5cm dialated and 90% effaced. However, the reason my laboring was so sporadic and followed the nontraditional patterns of labor was because my baby was facing anteriorly (So he was still head down in my pelvis but instead of him facing my spine he was facing my stomach). They informed me that my body was ready to push him out but was waiting for him to be positioned properly, hence the inconsistencies with my labor pattern. They gave me 2 options: 1) break my water now and get this labor show on the road or 2) take some tylenol PM get some sleep but sleep in a very specific position that will help move the baby to face posteriorly. They said after getting 4 hours of sleep with the aid of the tylenol, I should wake up in full blown labor and ready to have this baby. I had already made up my mind to picked option number 2 but asked them what they suggested. They suggested option number 2 for two very good reason, the first being that in 2 days I had gotten a total of 4-5 hours of sleep and the second being that I would need rest to push this baby out. Being in full blown labor for 24 hours definitely has it's toll on your body. So we took the tylenol and headed back home.
3:30am (2 hours later) I woke up with intense and consistent contractions. Tristin ran a hot bath for me and for the next 1.5 hours we tracked my contractions. Finally they were consistent: about 1-2mins in duration and 3 minutes apart. I was in serious labor. We called the midwives and met them at the office at 5am. At this point in the game I had been in full blown labor (inconsistent and consistent) for 29 hours. I figured that another few hours I would be birthing my son in the water (I had planned on having a water birth) and couldn't wait! The moment I had been waiting for for 9 months was just around the corner. I was thrilled and excited and kept telling Tristin and our moms and my sister-in-law Brittany (all the people I had invited to witness the birth of our son) that I can totally do this and I am SO ready to do this! I was smiling and joking and really breathing through all my contractions really well. I was so used to the pain at this stage in the game that I felt like I could face ANYTHING! Bring on the pushing! Lets get this little guy here!
after about 4 hours of more laboring and intense contractions (the time being around 9 or 10am Monday morning) I was 8cm dilated. All we had to do now was wait for my water to break! They told me to walk around and squat to help with the intensity of the contractions which sounds reasonable and very doable. But I was faced with a very very big problem: In 3 days I had slept 6 hours and due to the intensity of labor, I had eaten very very little. No matter how much food people brought me and encouraged me to eat, I could not eat. my appetite had completely disappeared. So here I am, exhausted, starving, laboring for 34 hours and I had absolutely nothing left. Nothing. Instead of breathing into my contractions, I resisted them. Instead of relaxing, I tensed. Instead of humming and meditating, I started crying. Mentally, I had slipped and lost my "happy place". I was now in full blown distress. Everyone encouraged me to eat and squat and walk but I fought it all."I can't! I'm SO tired! I can't get out of this birthing tub!" I would tell them. Tristin begged me to drink fluids which I reluctantly did: drinking meant I had to use energy to swallow. I had no energy. I was defeated.
By 11am I had the midwives check me again. I was still 8 cm dilated. We were just waiting for my water to break so I could get to 10cm and start pushing but I needed that one last strong contraction to break my water sack. I tried and tried but eventually I told the midwives to come in and break my water. I couldn't do it. I knew the risk factors when it came to breaking ones water. However, I was comforted by the fact that I was so far in the game that the risks were very minimal now. They came, broke my water and then assisted me on the birthing stool and helped me push. The only problem was that I had no energy to push and the pushing I was doing was just not cutting it. They used all the tricks in their books: from pushing on my perineum (to increase my pushing reflex) to manually moving my cervix over to make pushing easier, they did it all. The bottom line was that I just wasn't pushing hard enough because I was exhausted, undernourished and dehydrated. I was running on empty.
They offered an IV but I refused (I'm deathly afraid of needles) so then they offered me oxygen to which I happily accepted. I knew extra oxygen intake didn't take any energy so I was happy with that suggestion.
45 minutes of pushing and my little boy had moved very little down my pelvis. I couldn't push hard enough due to the circumstances so now it was time to use another trick. The midwives relocated me to the bed, had me lay on my side with my legs apart and then had me hold a towel on one end while one of them held the towel on the other, then they would have me pull myself up to a sitting position and push as hard as I could while doing so. The trick to this was to use my abs and diaphragm to push baby out while my pelvic floor was perfectly relaxed during the pushing. Miraculously this worked. I finally felt progress and movement. 30 minutes later I heard signs of relief and crying as my family witness my little boys head being birthed. There was a light at the end of the tunnel finally. My boy would soon be in my arms. "Reach down and touch his head, Juanique! He's right there! Can you feel him?" I could! I could feel his little head! He was finally coming! He was finally going to be in my arms!
If you were to ask me what labor and birthing felt like I would describe it like this:
Pretend you are standing in the middle of the road and there is a car that is coming at you at about 25-30 miles per hour. You can see it's coming but there's nothing you can do but just accept the fact that it's going to hit you, so you let it and you hurt and you get up and you wait for the next car to come and hit you. Now add hypnobirthing to the natural labor experience: you see a car coming at you and you tell yourself, "Wow, this weather is so beautiful. and what a beautiful country road I am standing on with the snow capped mountains in the background. I can hear the wind blowing the leaves around me and feel the sun shining on my face and I know that when this car hits me all I need to do is remember the warm sun shining, the pretty mountains in the background the wind blowing and remember that when this car comes, the sun will still be shining and the mountains will still be standing there and the wind will still be blowing. All will be alright". After the last 3-4 hours of giving up, tears (from myself and my family that were there witnessing the birth), exhaustion, complete surrender and loss of all hope, I reached down and felt my little boys head and finally remembered again that the sun was still shining, the snow capped mountains still had snow, the wind was still blowing and all was right in the world. Everything was perfect again. I had found my happy place.
Tennyson Errick Roney was born February 17th at 1:25pm weighing 7lbs 14oz and 22 inches long. He was above and beyond perfection and is still the most beautiful thing I have ever laid my eyes on. He came out completely pink with very little vernix on him and the most beautiful little cry I had ever heard. After overcoming the shock of having my son finally in my arms after 38.5 hours of labor, I cried, announced his name and then asked, "now what do I do?" and "I seriously need to eat something".
There are many reasons why I chose to do a natural labor and delivery. Maybe someday I will post those reasons but I know without doubt that I brought my son into this world peacefully and without any chemical/medical intervention. Everything happened for him and in his timeline, not mine. To rush HIS birthing process would be selfish because as hard as I was working to get him here, I knew he was working hard too. Through my last stages of labor the midwives would monitor Tennyson's stress levels and every time they'd report back that he was perfect. Strong heart beat, no fetal distress, nothing. I would have endured another 10 hours of labor if it meant that he would be unharmed and stress free. I understand that there is need for medical intervention but I know that if I had a doctor throughout this birthing process, he would have wanted to speed up my labor or he'd have done a c-section because of the complications of Tennyson's positioning in the beginning and the stressful state that my body was in in the last 5 hours of labor. In fact, I have never come across any labor story where a doctor waited 38 hours for anyone to deliver a baby. 8 hours is considered a long time in the hospital setting.
My team of midwives were AMAZING! I have never felt more safe and confident with a team of medical experts in my life! They were with me every step of the way and made me feel like I was the most important and special laboring woman in the world. To thank them for what they did for me wouldn't be enough. They were my angels. I look at the picture my mother took of them and I get emotional. I have so much love for these 4 ladies! I wouldn't have wanted any one else to have been there at my birth than them! I was SO blessed! My experience at Better Birth was everything I thought it should have been. They informed me of all my options and in the end *I* decided what we were all to do. No one ever bossed me around or made me feel like I wasn't the one in charge of my body. They respected me and they respected the birthing process. Their honesty and openness in all the decisions I made was absolutely phenomenal. And throughout the entire labor process they reassured me that my son was perfectly healthy and under no stress and that everything was going exactly the way it was suppose to and that I had nothing to fear (even when I started asking, "Do we need to cut him out now?").
However, the man of the hour/weekend was my husband! Tristin was with me every step of the way. He held me up when I couldn't stand, helped me push when I couldn't push (He literally helped me push! I was sitting on the birthing stool with my back laying against his chest. When it came time to push he'd push my torso forward so I wouldn't have to use that energy to lift myself up), and told me how strong I was when I felt I had given up. He was *IT* for me: he was everything I thought I had given up on during those last few hours. What beautiful memories I have of he and I together laboring and sharing one last amazing memory as husband and wife before we transitioned to mom and dad. Of all the life altering moments and intensely amazing experiences I've had in my life, this one is my favorite! Yes, it's even more amazing and more special than the day we got married. I am so happy that Tristin and I shared these last beautiful and vulnerable moments together as just he and I.
Lastly, I want to say that natural labor is NOT easy. It's definitely painful! If you're not all in, you'll find a way out of it. But I learned something about myself during those 38.5 hours of laboring. I've shared this before (via Facebook and Instagram) but I feel the need to share it again. I learned that there is absolutely NOTHING I wouldn't do for the two men of my life. I've also learned that love is completely limitless. If you love someone or something enough, there's nothing you wouldn't endure to make sure it is safe. And lastly I've learned that I have a son who is so perfect and beautiful that it literally makes me cry from happiness.
Would I do it again? Abso-freaking-lutely!
What a lucky girl I am!