Monday, May 16, 2011

Confessions of a Mom who Waterbirthed in the Hospital

© Sarah Bohden 2011. Sarah shares the birth story of her first child, born in the water tub at a hospital. This is a unique experience that has only recently become popular and available.

“Here is the birth story of my son, Blake Michael Bohdan. He was born on November 27, 2010 and is my first child.

The birth of Blake was an amazing moment in my life. From day one, I told myself I would not use drugs while giving birth to Blake. Knowing I went through with what I wanted, and despite everyone telling me I couldn't do it, I am damn proud to tell anyone that I WAS able to do it. To be honest, giving birth to Blake naturally was probably the biggest achievement of my life right along side of graduating from college with a bachelor degree at only age 20. 

It's funny how I decided I was going to give birth to Blake naturally. If I go back 10 years ago to age 13, I told myself that the day after Easter, I was going to become a vegetarian. I loved animals, animals loved me, and I was determined to not eat them anymore. I didn't like the way they were treated; I didn't like the thought of myself encouraging that behavior by choosing to eat it. Also, you couldn't get me to cry in any movie if I tried EXCEPT if an animal dies in it. If an animal dies, I'm bawling until the cows come home. It's not a pretty sight. Therefore, cold turkey, I became not only a vegetarian, but a vegan for an entire year. Yup, no meat, no eggs, no dairy products, not even jell-o. After a year, the temptation got to me, and I did start to eat eggs and dairy again. Some day, I'd like to get the motivation to become a vegan again. 

Now, I was born and raised in Northern Minnesota on 30 acres of my father's land that was surrounded by hundreds of acres of woods that other people owned. I couldn't see my nearest neighbor. And we have about 15 lakes in a 5-mile radius. It's a very beautiful place where I come from but for all of you not familiar with the area, it's taboo to not eat meat. So about 10 years later, I'm still getting comments from my family at Easter and Christmas dinner. Frankly, I came from a family of strict carnivores. My dad hunts, he fishes, and he even raises cows that he butchers.

We had pet chickens while I was a kid, and my dad told us to go grab them one day. He then proceeded to cut their heads off in front of us and we ate our pet chickens for the next year. When my dad hunts and kills a deer, he guts it in the woods and even takes a bite of the raw heart for some Finlander tradition. And every night for dinner, my mom makes a meat dish, a form of potatoes, and a canned vegetable. It's been this way for my entire life, and it's still like that when I come home.

I love the way I was raised, and I honestly wouldn't change it for anything. I loved nothing better than coming off the bus after school and smelling the venison stew cooking on the wood stove an 1/8 of a mile away (the length of our driveway). MMmmmMM, that was my favorite. I would just sit in front of that pot and pick out the pieces of venison and potatoes with my bare hands, I didn't even care about the veggies in it. 

So now you see that my veganism/vegetarianism was not taken lightly. To this day, my mom still tells everyone I'm going to give it up soon. I must admit, I now eat gravy and stuffing that uses broth of some sort. Who knows, maybe some day I will raise my own animals and kill them and eat them for myself because really, that's the only way I see myself eating flesh of another living thing again. 

Ok, back to the subject of giving birth naturally. I chose to give birth naturally MAINLY because animals do it. It wasn't until after I had made this decision that I would actually research it, and man oh man did I find oodles of information on why it was the best thing to do for my baby. Honestly, I did make the decision of having birth naturally because if animals can do it without drugs and doctors, I sure as hell can, too. I've always admired how animals lived in tune with their needs, and it just inspired me. I wanted a homebirth, but my husband wasn't hearing it. Therefore, I settled with a midwife at a hospital and had Blake there in a big bathtub.

Scott and I prepared A LOT for the birth of Blake. I researched (imagine that) all day and night about how to get myself through this. I talked to people who had done it. We took a birthing class. I had my birth plan approved with my midwife. I spent HOURS making the birth plan. I was set. I was doing it: no IV, no drugs, no monitoring, just me, myself, and my baby. I heard snide comments like, "Good luck with that." I also heard, "she won't be able to do it, it hurts too bad."

I listened to uneducated people who said that not using interventions would hurt my baby, such as not using Pitocin if it goes too slow or that not wearing a monitoring belt is something CPS should know about. To be honest, comments like that kept me motivated. I was going to show all these people that it is possible, and I will have turned out better than any of them. Hopefully even motivate a few people to try it for themselves. It truly is best for your baby, and with a C Section rate of 30-40%, sometimes HIGHER in certain areas, statistics were on my side. 

After a smooth pregnancy with just strong kicks in the ribs and some heartburn, I was ready to have this baby. I had spent 2 weeks crawling around on my knees turning a transverse baby, and I was approaching November 28, 2010 (my due date) with anticipation. We had to PCS from Fort Lewis to Fort Campbell on December 17, so sadly, my baby was on a deadline. Finally, on November 27, 2010, around 1 A.M., I started feeling indescribable period cramps. I asked myself, "Is this labor?"

Now, I had watched two girls who were having babies within days of my due date go in multiple times to labor & delivery to see if they were in labor. I told myself that I was not going to do that to myself, and I planned to stay at home laboring as long as I possible could. I told a tired Scott to start timing my contractions. He did a half ass job, so I decided to do it myself. I decided, nah, this isn't real labor I'm just going to go to sleep. After 3 hours of trying to sleep, I gave up as these pains weren't going to let me sleep.

I texted my overly excited MIL that I thought I was in labor. I watched some movies and waited it out. Around 7 A.M., I decided to call Labor & Delivery to see what they thought, as I was starting to bleed a bit. They told me to wait it out and call back if I had any more questions because it was probably my plug just coming loose. I thought to myself, well this is a bit painful for a plug coming out. 

So there I was, in denial that I was in fact in labor and just decided to stick out the pain. Scott woke up and I told him I thought I was in labor. He said I was exaggerating and proceeded to play video games. So there I am, in labor with no sympathy. I went on with my day, tried to finish packing the hospital bags and every time a contraction would hit, I'd drop to the floor and pray to something that the pain would go away.

Around 11 A.M., I told Scott it was the real thing. I called my mom and she begged me to go in. My sister was calling me begging me to go in. I said no, I'm going to wait it out; it's probably just Braxton Hicks. Noon rolled around, and I was in the bathtub. I was unable to eat, unable to talk and I knew it was labor. Still, Scott, no urgency in mind said he'd take me to the hospital, but they were just going to send me home, so I should wait it out until 3PM. I told him at 1PM, I wanted to leave for the hospital. 

I sat in my little bathtub, Sylvio my dog guarding the bathroom. After I saw his behavior, there was no doubt in my mind that I was in labor. I know dogs and other animals have senses that humans couldn't dream of having. I knew that his aggressiveness showed that he sensed I was in pain and something was changing.

I pulled my pajamas on, Scott packed the car with all our stuff, and we left the house at 1:30 P.M. The entire way there, Scott said, "They are just going to send us home. This is such a waste of time." I just listened, clenched with pain every time we turned a corner. Around 2PM, we dropped Sylvio off at our friend’s house to be watched. He was so scared. He wanted to go with me to make sure I'd be ok. Around 2:15-2:30, we finally arrived at the hospital.

Upon arrival, I told Scott that I wanted a far away parking spot so that I could walk to maybe trigger me into faster labor. Well, we definitely got a walk because we had NO idea where to go. We parked in the ER parking log and went to the front desk, and she was confused as to why I would go to the ER and not to L&D. After telling her we didn't know where to go and a security guard coming to show us the way, we finally arrived at labor & delivery at about 3PM.

I peed in a cup and they proceeded to strap me up to all the machines I did not want to be strapped to, but I knew it was a requirement to be "admitted." After a 1/2 hour of answering stupid questions, being told that I should get a flu shot and an IV needle, both of which I refused, they admitted me into L&D at 5 CM. Immediately, I asked to be put in the bathtub. Nothing sounded better than a bathtub at the moment.

Nurses continued to ask me if I wanted an epidural, driving me nuts, until one nice nurse came up to me and said, "I had a natural birth with my son after epidurals. You will not regret this. My best advice is that you keep relaxed, don't tense, you can do this." She always made me calm when she came in the room.

Around 5:30 PM, I was exhausted, hungry, and in the most pain imaginable. I told the midwife that I was dying, about to commit suicide, and she needed to help me. She said don't say that or they'd be sending up to the 5th floor. I laughed and asked about my progress. She checked me, and I was at 10 CM! 2.5 hours, and I went from 5CM to 10CM all because I stayed calm, relaxed, and kept my eye on the prize.

They told me the only problem was that my water hadn't broken. They got me out of the tub, made me try to go pee (nothing would come). I bounced on a ball, I sat on the toilet, nothing would make my water break. Finally, I asked if I could go back in the tub after a half hour. I sat in the tub for a 1/2 hour, and I begged the nurses to help me. Labor is one thing, but still having your water bag in tact while at 10 CM is the most pain I think known to man. I was seizing at every contraction, losing control of my body, even screaming. I was about to give into letting her break my water, but every time I told Scott I was going to ask, he'd say, "that's not what you would have wanted before all this." I knew that my body knew what it was doing, so I just let it do what it needed to do. 

Around 6:25, I asked my midwife how much longer it would take for my water to break. I seriously had experienced enough. Transition stage from labor to pushing was only supposed to be an hour, and I'd been at it for over 2 hours. She then told me that it was possible for babies to be born in their water sacs and that babies born this way were considered to have powers. That inspired me. She checked me again and said that my water bag was bulging out. I asked if I could start pushing and she agreed.

Apparently I was one of the first water births at the hospital, so I had every nurse on the floor in my room watching with intent. After only 2-3 pushes, my water broke. My oh my, ALL the pain was gone. It's funny because moms who have epidurals say that the pushing is the most painful part because the drugs can't numb that pressure. Well, mothers without epidurals will say that pushing is the least painful part.

I was in heaven just to be away from that seizing pain! After 30 minutes of pushing with my body telling me exactly when to push, Blake was born at 7:03PM in the water. His dad helped him pull him out, and Scott and the midwife were the first two people to see our beautiful little boy. Completely perfect baby with beautiful black hair all over his body. Weighing in at 9lbs, 4 oz, Blakey was here! All the nurses looked at me with amazement and said that I should have been on "The Baby Story." It made me feel so good inside that Blake was perfect, and I was able to walk around minutes after having him.

The afterbirth was hell. Blake was taken away from me, Scott was puking in the toilet, and the new nurses (he was born at shift change) were attacking me. One second it was peaceful, and the next, I'm being shot up with Pitocin by a nurse who didn't read my birth plan or ignored it. I'm getting one stitch from the midwife, while the idiot nurse was pushing on my stomach with such force that I was about to punch her in the face to see if she liked it.

All the while I couldn't even see what they were doing to my son. All I could say was, "No Hep B vaccine. Oooooowwwww! No Hep B vaccine." That experience alone made me decide that NO MATTER what, my next child WOULD NOT be born in a hospital. Nope, the birth was beautiful, but I will confidently say that our next child WILL be born at home. If we can't afford a midwife, so be it, I'll have him by myself with no help. No matter what, I will not step foot in a hospital again. 

I’ve found that there are many benefits to having a homebirth versus a hospital birth. So, so, so many benefits. I'm sad now that Blake wasn't born this way, but I believe I did the best I could for our first child. At least he wasn't introduced to Pitocin, anesthesia, and other things. At least that first moment into the world was peaceful.”


  1. Lovely story Sarah. I sympathize with how your birth was lovely till after Blake was born. I went through that as well. With my first three, my 4th was born at home. 5th turned out to be 5th & 6th so we had the twins in the hospital. Lovely birth, afterwards was not lovely at all. Then I had my 7th at home....9lbs 2oz. At least I was home in less than 24 hours with all the hospital births. I could NOT wait to get out of there!

  2. I had a waterbirth in a hospital for my 6th... I had had two waterbirthd at home. It was crazy to me that they didnt allow them and told me to keep it a secret.... seriously??? Derrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.