It’s all a dream now

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It’s been 3 weeks since I gave birth and I’m starting to feel normal again. I’m finally ready to share my birthing story.

This story and the pictures that follow are very personal to me. I decided to share them so they can hopefully empower other women preparing to give birth.

All photos were taken by my amazing, dear friend, Lehua.

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DUE DATES ARE HARDLY ACCURATE

My due date came and went with nothing to remember it by. I already knew I shouldn’t expect my baby to come on my due date. After all, only 5% of women actually deliver on their due date.

After my due date passed I tried all sorts of methods to help speed up labor. I certainly didn’t want to be pregnant forever and my midwifery has a policy that requires me to birth at a hospital if I go past 2 weeks. In addition, I wasn’t looking to get induced at a hospital through unnatural procedures because they often lead to a whole bunch of interventions. I went on long walks, made love (yup…supposedly it helps!), and ate spicy foods. When the 7th day past my due date arrived, I decided to get acupuncture. I never had real acupuncture done on me before and read online that some women found it helped induce labor. I simply found a place on Yelp, Evergreen Health & Herbs, and decided to try it out. I have to admit the procedure was pretty uncomfortable—they stuck these needles in a few areas on my feet, hands, and belly. Then I had to lay there for 30 minutes and try to relax. I paid $60 and left wondering if the procedure really did anything. They mentioned I should walk a lot—at least 30 minutes in the morning and then 30 minutes at night.

I went home that day and was working at my computer. I felt my stomach tighten for a few seconds, several times. Little did I know, they were Braxton Hicks contractions. The next day was Friday. It was raining, so what better place to go for a long walk than Target? I spent about 1.5 hours at Target and kept feeling contractions every 20 minutes or so. They weren’t strong or close together so I knew I shouldn’t worry. That evening, I went to dinner at my mom’s house and came back feeling very tired.

AND SO LABOR BEGINS

Midnight:::I start feeling contractions but am still unsure if they are real birthing contractions. They occur every 2 minutes or so. I call my midwife. She asks when I last slept, ate, and a few other questions. I hadn’t slept since the morning and was certainly tired. She suggests I take a Benadryl, have a 30 minute warm bath, and try to sleep for the night in order to help build energy for labor. I follow the midwife’s instructions and go to sleep.

1am:::My doula, Socorro, arrives. She decided to come early in case I go into real labor sooner than expected. She rests in our guest room.

2am:::I am awakened by birthing contractions. This time they are stronger. They occur every 2 minutes. I get into the zone and turn on my hypnobabies tracks. I breathe through my contractions and focus on envisioning my woman area opening up. Albert calls the midwife.

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My doula, a trained massage therapist, massages me as I begin to feel pressure on my lower back.

2:40am::: Andy, the midwife on call from South Coast Midwifery arrives. She asks to check how dilated I am. In my birthing plan I had wanted to limit cervical checks. This is because every time you do a cervical check you increase the chance for infection. I also read that although dilation tells you how wide you’ve opened up, it doesn’t tell you how quickly labor will go. At that moment I decide to let her check me. I was 9cm dilated. WOAH. Completely unexpected. 10cm is completely dilated and women always told me how painful getting to 10cm was! I was shocked and then relieved. So many months of waiting for my little guy and my cervix gates were opening up!

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My water hadn’t broken and I was getting closer to pushing so my midwife lets me get into my tub. Here I am breathing through my contractions, trying to have a loose jaw, focused on releasing tension.

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My sweet husband pouring warm water on my lower back in order to help relieve tension.

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My husband was my side all the way.

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Focused entirely on releasing tension, breathing, and envisioning the baby coming out safely–all in accordance to what I practiced with Hypnobabies. I don’t feel any pain. Simply pressure.

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Riding the birthing waves together.

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Completely lost in my own mind.

I repeat, cervical dilation does not predict how quickly labor will go.

5am::: We thought we had this. I was in the tub and having pushing contractions. I was fully dilated.

Then, my midwife says, “you need to get out of the tub.” She explains to me that she believes the baby has turned into a posterior position, which is not favorable. The baby’s heart rate keeps dropping through my pushes. She suggests I try to stop pushing through my contractions, get into some different positions and encourage the baby to turn so he’s anterior, or facing my spine. Not pushing feels impossible at this point. She has me get into an inverted position to help encourage the baby to turn. I begin to wonder when and how the baby will come. I cast all doubts away as quickly as they come and go back to my hypnobabies training—I work through my affirmations and continue to envision my “safe place with the baby.”

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The contractions are powerful, but they are not greater than I am. Just a few of a hundred things I learned while reading teachings from the world famous midwife, Ina May.

7am::: At this point I’m having a difficult time. I can’t stop pushing through my contractions. I’m trying to fight the urge to push but it feels impossible.  Thankfully, the second midwife on call comes to take her shift. With her, comes a new energy that helps me re-focus. She consults the head midwife and suggests I get a shot that will encourage my contractions to slow down so I can take a break while the baby has a chance to turn. I agree. After the shot I’m able to take a much needed 30 minute break. I take a quick nap and feel SO much better.

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My doula and husband use a rebozo to help facilitate the baby so he can turn into the right position.

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Getting through some of the strongest contractions with my husband.

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The support of my husband was absolutely amazing. Doing the hypnobabies course together required us to be open and honest about the whole birthing process. Doing all the training together not only equipped us for our labor time, but also strengthened our bond.

One last attempt

8am:: My midwife asks if I want to brush my teeth because it could help reenergize me. The funny thing was I had just thought about how I wanted to brush my teeth, but that it was a silly thing to do in labor. Well, I brushed my teeth and then they opened the blinds. We had been laboring in the dark all night with my shutters closed. The sunlight poured in and the energy shifted. The midwives then let us know that they would encourage baby to reposition one last time. If I couldn’t push baby out after the reposition, we would transfer to the hospital for additional assistance. In the midst of uncertainty, my hypnobabies training kicked in. I loosened my body and leaned back on my husband, and whispered, “I can’t believe our son is going to be here soon.”

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Leaning back on my husband just about an hour before the birth of my first baby.

 

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The contractions are getting extremely powerful. Through some of the most intense moments we share a kiss. I learned this helps loosen the body and relieve tension. I can attest to this special power a kiss holds.

 

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I remember this moment so clearly. I’m in an inverted position to help the baby get into the right position. There’s mention of transferring to the hospital if the baby does not turn. Flashes of thoughts run through my mind. “everything I worked for the past several months may all go out the window now. I might have c-section. I might not make it.” And at that moment another voice stronger than the last comes in and says,” I can freak out or I can remain calm and trust my midwives who have educated me and been by side the past 6 months. I can give up now or continue up the path I started.” I close my eyes and simply keep working through the affirmations I practiced daily for the past 3 months. “My body is whole and healthy, fully capable of pushing this baby out in perfect health. I am feeling calm and at peace. The powerful birthing waves help bring the baby closer to me. My body knows just what to do”

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I’m on my hands and knees because this position feels most comfortable. Gravity seems to be helping his body come down and my contractions paired with pushing feel most effective in this position. In addition, the midwife says the baby’s heart beat seems to be best in this position in my situation. I push for about an hour in this position. The midwife feels the baby’s head. I push and push and push…but it feels like I’m trying to finish a race but have no idea where the end is. His head comes out, goes in, comes out, goes in. I ask my husband and everyone around to tell me I can do this. Everyone begins to say, ” you can do this, Mindy!”

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Holding my husband as I push my baby out. It’s a scary moment because I’m pushing quite hard, but I also don’t want to push too hard for fear of tearing. I eventually realize I can’t be afraid of tearing. I continue to keep pushing with all my might at a certain point.

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My face is in anguish here, but I was honestly not feeling the worst pain ever or anything. There was a ton of pressure and a lot going on. I was certainly grunting, but it wasn’t painful. There was just a lot of pressure and a part of me was just a bit fearful of tearing.

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I cast my fears aside. With one great push his head was out. Then another great push and his body slid on out. What a moment of relief and wonder as I peer over and see this new life in front of me.

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I’m in a daze now. My husband cuts the umbilical cord. All I can do is stare at this baby and think, “who is this? this is my baby!”

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Our midwife showing us my placenta. She explains that now that the placenta is out of my stomach, I have a wound that large that needs to heal.

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Sweet first moments of life.

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Weighing Codan Daniel Kim. He is. 9 pounds, 5 ounces. I cry for the first time after hearing his weight. The gravity of what just happened hits me. I can’t believe I pushed him out.

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My husband, holding up the scale.

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Daddy putting on baby’s first diaper.

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Father and son.

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Skin to skin time while I take my first shower.

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Our precious son, born 12:47pm on February 7th, 2014.

Although my home birth was longer and more challenging than I had anticipated, I’m incredibly happy about the choices I made. My birth practitioners respected my body the way it should be. They suggested medical interventions when necessary, but stood back and allowed me to progress naturally when it was safe. Unlike my media-instilled fear that birthing had to be the most painful, dangerous, and fearful moment in a woman’s life, my labor turned out to be completely meditative and peaceful.

Mindy
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Mindy

Founder at Dymin Collective
Mindy Song is a mother of one, a video artist, and musician from Orange, CA. She is an advocate of social justice with interests in globalization, socio-economics, and the history of women’s rights in developing nations. By day she is a marketing specialist for a dental imaging company, milk pumper, and wannabe supermom. By night she is an asian fusion chef, art critic, and blogger.
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