You might remember Christina and Patty’s conception story — the pair conceived their child with help from Patty’s brother (he donated sperm) and a salsa jar.
I started going to yoga at Golden Bridge Yoga in Hollywood when I was about three months pregnant. The classes there are kundalini yoga, and the prenatal yoga classes and meditations are based on Gurmukh’s book Bountiful, Beautiful, Blissful: Experience the Natural Power of Pregnancy and Birth with Kundalini Yoga and Meditation. Since I really enjoyed the classes and meditations, I asked one of the yoga teachers for a doula recommendation. My yoga teacher also helped me put together a labor and birth playlist.
Long Time Sun (you can watch it on YouTube here is a blessing sung at the end of every kundalini yoga class. You sing once for yourself, once for those in need, and the third time for your baby. I feel like my birth story starts there — when I began yoga at Golden Bridge. I loved my classes there so much I decided to take a birth class they offered.
Three months before the baby was due, my partner Patty and I took the birth class. I’m so glad we took the class together — the yoga teacher taught us a lot about exercises we could do during labor, breathing to help through the contractions, the benefits of avoiding interventions, and how a labor doula could really support our decisions to have the birth we wanted.
I made our first appointment with Carmen, our doula, two months before Beatrice’s arrival. Carmen was great — she came over three times before the birth. The first time was to discuss our birthing preferences — we really wanted to have a medication-free birth, and she helped us come up with guidelines for the doctor and nurses at the hospital. The second visit she showed us labor exercises to do. The third visit was my favorite — the massage. She’s a certified massage therapist, an asset that proved to be amazing during the birth.
The doctor suggested we check into the hospital, but since I really wanted to labor at home we opted to go home instead.
I started having contractions at 1am on my due date, September 10. I called Carmen at 4am, and she told me to try to sleep in between them.. so I did. I had an appointment with my doctor at 9am, so I went to that with Patty. They determined I was three centimeters dilated at the doctor’s office, and put the baby on the monitor. The doctor suggested we check into the hospital, but since I really wanted to labor at home we opted to go home instead. I came home Friday at noon, and our doula came over that evening.
Carmen stayed over Friday night — she massaged me and helped out in general. The contractions subsided a bit Saturday morning, so we decided that Carmen should go home and get ready to come back later in the day. I went for a walk, ate lunch, did laundry… and tried to get ready as much as I could.
The contractions really revved up Saturday night, so Carmen came over and we repeated Friday night — lots of contractions, breathing, and massaging until 3am Sunday morning, when we decided it was time to make the trip to the hospital. I was contracting pretty intensely at this point, so the car ride was a bit torturous.
Once checked into the hospital, we found out I was five centimeters dilated. We all thought the baby would be coming soon, and our wonderful nurse got us a room with a birthing tub. I promptly got myself in the tub to relieve the intensity of the contractions. I guess I relieved them too much, because they started to subside by noon. The doctor told me I looked too comfortable, so I took lots of walks around the hospital to really intensify the contractions. My doctor came back Sunday afternoon and we all decided she should break my water, hoping that would speed things along. At 4pm the water was broken, and the contractions intensified.
In my birth preferences I indicated that the nurses should not offer me pain meds. I told Patty and Carmen that if I asked for them they should let me ask three times to really make sure I wanted and/or needed them. I wanted to avoid interventions such as pitocin or an epidural that could possible lead me down the road to having a cesarean section. I went for about three to four hours with incredibly intense contractions and hit a wall: at this point I’d been in labor since Friday morning and hadn’t eaten anything since Saturday. I was getting worn down.
I asked for an epidural. Carmen talked me through it and I went a bit longer. I asked a second time and she said, “Let’s see how far dilated you are — if you’re close, you can get through it!” I figured I was at eight or nine centimeters, no problem, so I agreed. The nurse came in to check me, and I was still at five centimeters. I had been stuck at five the entire time I’d been at the hospital! At this point, around midnight, I was ready to quit. Then I asked — demanded, really — for the third time, “GET ME AN EPIDURAL!”
The anesthesiologist was dispatched post haste and I had my epidural. At that point I was able to get some much needed sleep. A nurse shift happened while I slept, and the new nurse asked if I wanted an Italian ice sorbet. It was the best thing I had ever tasted in my life.
Around 3am on Monday they checked me and I was dilated to 10 centimeters. The epidural did its job and I was able to relax and fully dilate. One more complication, however, is that I had developed a fever while on the epidural (which is pretty common from what I hear), which meant they had to put me on antibiotics — not ideal. The main disappointment for me was that because there was a chance of infection I was told the baby would not be able to go immediately to my breast — the pediatric team would have to evaluate her first, then she could be placed skin to skin.
The nurse told me to wait to push since the baby wasn’t dropping, but I wasn’t really having it. I asked the nurse to set up the bed for me to squat to I could start pushing — I figured if I was in a squat, I would let gravity work in my favor and the baby would drop. I did this for around two hours and the doctor arrived at 5am. She did a check and informed me that not only was the baby stuck on my pelvic bone, but she was “sunny side up.” She thought laying on my back and pushing might allow the baby to fall towards my back and hopefully get “unstuck.”
After some more unsuccessful pushing, the doctor said she wanted to try suction to help guide the baby down. At this point, I was exhausted. I knew suction would be the “last ditch effort” before they would resort to a cesarean section, so I agreed. It worked, and after a few more hours of warrior-woman pushing, Beatrice came into the world! She was born on September 13 (also my birthday) and was the best present ever.
They whisked her away from around two minutes, and then brought her right back to me to place her on my chest — skin to skin. She started nursing almost immediately — the long labor must have worked up her appetite. I cannot say enough wonderful things about my partner, doula, doctor, and the amazing team we had. The birth was long and not exactly as I would have imagined it, but it was indeed the perfect birth.