Mara's Birth Story: A Natural Hospital Birth

Prepare yourselves for a lengthy post today, friends. Today Mara is one month old (what?!) so I thought it would be good to finally share her birth story. I think it will be something I come back to read for years to come and maybe even something I read to her when she's old enough. I also think other moms have a weird fascination with reading about other people's labors- so I thought I'd share. ;)

Before I start I want to make a quick note, in case you're here for natural labor inspiration. I'm a huge advocate for natural births and delivered both my girls without any medical assistance. I think it is best for both mom and baby. BUT I had relatively easy (as "easy" as a labor can be...) labors and never ruled out the option of an epidural if I felt I couldn't take it. I will be sharing some of my tips for doing it naturally, just in case it helps another mama out there, but I would never imply that an epidural makes you less strong or capable. You are all strong, powerful, beautiful mothers and delivering a human being, no matter how it's done, is a miracle in and of itself and you should be proud.

Ok. Now on to the story.

I call this one

This photo from my


was taken the day before Mara was born- July 2nd. I had just come home from a doctor appointment where we decided that I would be induced the next morning. I was feeling very, very nervous and somewhat disappointed at the thought of an induction and decided to take E for a walk to help distract me.

An induction was not my plan (and not completely necessary in my opinion) but both my babies measured small during the last weeks and doctors don't like that sort of thing. Honestly, I was just really tired of being pregnant, so I agreed that we could schedule it as long as they only broke my water and didn't give me pitocin. I was already 4 cm dilated for the last month of my pregnancy so I felt like once my water broke things would get started on their own pretty easily.

The drive to the hospital that morning with AJ was long, even though we only live about 2 miles away. I tried to make small talk but I was just really nervous. Besides the convenience of knowing when your baby will be born, I think inductions are much more nerve wracking.

We checked in, I got naked and put on the ever flattering hospital gown, they came and stuck a needle in my hand just in case I needed an iv and then we waited. Lots and lots of waiting. We were told to arrive at the hospital at 6:30 so I was expecting things to happen relatively quick, but no one came to break my water until 9:30. I just wanted to get it all over with.

When the OB was breaking my water she remarked that my baby was REALLY low and I was dilated to a 6.

My contractions started almost right away- though they were very mild for the first few hours. The only photos of me during labor were taken during this period, because I most definitely would have punched AJ in the face if he tried to take a photo of me once it got serious.

My biggest goal was to stay mobile and relaxed. Everything I read said staying mobile and changing positions frequently was the key to having a natural labor. I spent a lot of time sitting on the toilet (glamorous, I know)- it really opens up the hips and sitting in that position provided a lot of relief.

After a while I started to feel a lot of pressure, like I had to push, and it clearly wasn't time to do so, so I changed my position. The birthing ball was my best friend during both of my labors. I bounced and rocked on it a lot to continue to open up my pelvis. When I was having a contraction I leaned over onto the bed while AJ applied counter-pressure on my lower back. He put his hands on either side of my pelvis (basically on my butt, because that's where my contractions were the worst) and pushed up and in. That lower back pressure works wonders, you guys. I asked AJ if it hurt his hands after a while and he said he was pushing as hard as he could- I NEEDED that pressure to counteract what was happening during contractions.

The nurse would come in periodically and have me sit in the bed to monitor baby. This was the part I hated because sitting upright in a bed is one of the worst positions to labor in. My contractions were getting much worse and whenever I sat in the bed I almost couldn't handle the pain.

By about 1 I was only dilated to 8 and was definitely in transition. My contractions were AWFUL and having AJ put pressure on my back wasn't helping like it did before. I just tried to stay mobile in between contractions and when I felt a contraction coming I sat on the birthing ball and leaned over the bed.

The hugest thing, besides staying mobile, was staying relaxed. While I was in labor with Evie I was so shocked by the pain that I was unable to relax. Being tense makes contractions even more painful. We played calming music on AJ's phone (I think it was some zen yoga station on Pandora) which helped me stay focused on relaxing my muscles and breathing through the pain.

I started to feel the urge to push- which is a very polite, mild way to put what it actually feels like. My contractions were unbearable, so I knew that she was coming soon. The only way I could make it through them was by squeezing AJ's hand as hard as I could and moaning (probably really loudly, but I couldn't care less what I sounded like). I pictured Evie in my mind during every contraction- channeling that positive emotion reminded me of the amazing thing my body was doing. I knew that it would all be worth it and shortly I would hold the baby I had been carrying for so long. I kept telling myself that I


going to do this, that I


do this.

I had about a centimeter left to go and the Dr. had gone home for a break (of course). I told the nurse that I wasn't going to wait much longer and she needed to call the doctor right now.

Luckily, she lived close by and was there in a few minutes. I was expecting to feel much more relief from pushing- but I was just so exhausted by this point and ready to give up. AJ and the doctor were very encouraging- I looked up at AJ while I was pushing, while he was holding my legs back. Pushing took SO much more energy than I remembered. I kept telling myself that it was almost over and all I had to do was push.

I reached down and felt her head as it came out and it was such a strange feeling. That was the moment it felt real to me- I was pushing a living human out of my body and soon I would be holding her. I think feeling her head gave me an extra boost and within a few minutes gooey, slimey, screaming, perfect Mara Paige entered the world.

I told AJ not to look. He looked.

He had to leave the room for a few minutes- I can't imagine how intense it is watching your wife go through labor. Not as intense as actual labor....but I'm trying to give him some credit ;).

I remember feeling relief after Mara was placed on my chest. Pure relief that it was over and surprised that it felt so much more normal than with Evie. I actually knew what I was doing.

Mara latched right away and she nursed for almost the first hour. It was such a sweet moment together with just the three of us.

She weighed 6 lbs 11 oz and measured 19.5 inches long. Over a pound heavier than her big sister! She was so alert when she was born and stayed awake for the first few hours.

Evie came in about an hour later. She was a little bit uncertain and very serious about the whole thing (as you can see). I think seeing me hold another baby was a shock to her system. We let her sit up on the bed with Mara and I and I tried to make her feel very included. It felt surreal to see her- she looked so big and grown up now and I couldn't help feeling a little bit sorry for her. But she handled it very well and loved the baby right from the start.

The rest of the day was so happy. My parents came to see us and AJ's mom and little brother were able to be with us too.