Noli Ann: A Natural Birth Story {Part 1}

One piece of advice I determined to grasp early in pregnancy was not fixating on our due date. Of course I wanted to be “ready” early (baby items washed, meals prepped, time with just Stephen), but I also wanted to be prepared emotionally to go late. It helped that my best friend had given birth a few hours shy of 42 weeks, just months before. I had no expectation of delivering on that actual date. When November 20th came, it was just like any other day. I visited my midwife, and she ran a non-stress test – other than the Braxton Hicks I had been having for over a month, baby was just fine and displaying no signs that s/he was ready to greet the world. Despite my increasing discomfort (your belly can’t truly burst…can it?), I was not disappointed by this news and happily treated myself to a prenatal massage for making it all the way to 40 weeks.

Week 40 came and went. We celebrated Thanksgiving with our families, I ate my favorite foods, we hosted friends, walked laps in the mall, and just enjoyed the day to day. Week 41 began with another non-stress test, which brought the same conclusion as did the first – baby was cozy and thriving, and happy right where they were. But at this appointment, induction entered the conversation. Not that baby or I needed it for medical reasons, just that we needed to discuss it being a possibility.  At this particular appointment I saw a doctor rather than one of my midwives. To secure our room in the hospital, she scheduled an induction, tentatively, for the following week – December 4th, which was the 42 week mark and the day before my own birthday. At first, I was discouraged by meeting yet another new doctor instead of one of the midwives I had built a relationship with over the previous nine months. But, I advocated for myself (and baby) our hopes and plans. She was very receptive, and we talked about possibly doing a membrane sweep to help things along in a more natural progression. At this point, I had tried all the tricks in the book to get labor moving except the membrane sweep. I decided to passeSz it at that appointment, allowing time to do a little more research and talk to some friends who’d had the procedure done. When in doubt, it’s usually a good idea to wait.

Week 41 day 1 came and displayed no signs of progress, so I scheduled a membrane sweep the following afternoon. If my body was ready to receive it, I would likely go into labor before induction was strongly advised. That night, Stephen and I had dinner at our favorite local restaurant and went to the movies. It was so special thinking that could be our last night out before our little one arrived! (Spoiler: it WAS!)

Stephen came with me to the appointment the next day. The doctor who performed the procedure was so pleasant (though the procedure was anything but, haha). He took time carefully listening to my desire for a natural birth and hopes to avoid any form of induction, but told me that he did not believe I would even make it to the weekend. Music to my ears!!! I went home feeling encouraged, empowered, and readier than ever.

That night, I slept in our spare room, hoping to rest up in preparation for labor. In and out of sleep, I was feeling rather crampy through the night. While this is common following the sweeping, I was hopeful it was a sign of progress. At 5:30am, I got in bed with Stephen to snuggle until he got up for work, but before his alarm even sounded (and by some miracle) my incredibly pregnant self shot up in bed – that was NOT a Braxton Hicks contraction! It was 6:15am and that is when it all began.

{Part 2} coming soon!

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