Mama Amber Corkin of The DIY Lighthouse shares the natural hospital birth story of her daughter on the Honest Birth birth story series! Amber went into labor on her own a few days past her due date and had a natural birth in the hospital!
Hey mamas! Welcome to the tenth post in my Honest Birth series! I’m excited to share another real mama’s birth story, because I think it’s so important to share our childbirth experiences with each other. My goal with this series is to provide a place for women to share their birth stories without holding anything back, as well as compile stories for pregnant mamas to read in preparation for their own childbirth experiences. Every mama is different and every birth is different, and I believe that when we share our stories we help each other.
Today I am featuring my friend Amber! Amber married one of my childhood friends and even though we’ve never met in person, we follow each other on social media and feel like we know each other! A few years ago Amber and her twin sister Aubrey started a blog called The DIY Lighthouse where they show amazing DIY crafts, tutorials, and recipes. I’ve been reading it since day one and I love everything they post. Amber and her husband have two kids, a boy and a girl, and they live in Seattle. Today Amber is going to be sharing the natural hospital birth story of her daughter!
Ready to read all about Amber’s natural labor and delivery? Let’s do it!
The Birth Story of CM
Eat 6 dates. Drink 8 glasses of water. Do Spinning Babies prenatal yoga. Read positive natural birth stories. Those were four things on my to-do list every day. Preparing for the big birth day seemed like a part-time job. But I had my head in the game and I was determined to “go natural” (epidural and drug free).
Before you get the wrong idea, I’m not super passionate about natural birthing or think it definitely makes for a superior birthing experience. I used an epidural with my first baby and had an absolutely wonderful birth experience.
So why would I want to go natural the second time around? Well, because for whatever reason, my body decided to have a very difficult postpartum recovery with my first. Aside from the regular stuff, I got hit with what seemed like an endless string of postpartum complications: horridly itchy rash all over my body, an extremely painful and debilitating anal fissure, mastitis that turned into a breast abscess and an ER visit, a surgery procedure to fix the anal fissure which got infected so I had to get put under for a follow-up surgery…
Needless to say, I had some fear about going through a second postpartum and wanted to do anything I could to prevent my issues from happening again. I kept hearing that going natural could make recovery easier. So, I hired a doula, applied some general philosophies from the book Hypno Babies, and started prepping my body and mind for an intense experience.
My due date came and went. We were all surprised I had passed my due date because baby #1, J, had come a week early. A couple days after my due date, on the morning of November 6th, I went in for my weekly doctor appointment. My doctor told me this was going to be my last appointment before he saw me at delivery– either from going into labor on my own or from being induced. I was worried about needing to schedule an induction because being induced can make natural birth more intense. So, I let my OBGYN sweep my membranes, and I left hoping my baby would come on her own.
Late that afternoon, J, our dog, and I walked up to a park about a mile away and J swung on the swings. It was pretty cold outside, so he swung with his hands tucked up inside his coat sleeves. Moose whined at us the whole time. He didn’t like being left leashed to the stroller. J asked for under-dogs and went “upside down” (he leans his head far back and looks up at the sky).
By the time we were eating dinner and having Family Home Evening (a weekly mini gospel lesson), I started having mild contractions. My husband, Jake, taught a lesson on baptism. The best part was at the end when J said that the guy baptizing Jesus was “John the Bath Time” (John the Baptist) haha.
I didn’t tell anyone about my contractions because I had already had a couple fake outs, and I wanted to make sure it was the real thing this time. At 9:30 p.m. when I was showering, I told Jake that we might be having a baby tonight. Shortly after I hopped out of the shower, I lost my mucus plug and had a bloody show. We texted the doula and our parents (who were flying in) to stay tuned. Then we went to bed to get some sleep just in case it really was happening.
Only I couldn’t fall asleep. I had too much adrenaline. So around midnight, I started tracking my contractions on an app. I laid in bed with my eyes closed trying to relax and breathe deeply. During contractions, I would inhale and then slowly exhale while I calmly counted to eight. After a bit I texted our parents to go ahead and get their plane tickets. For the next hour my contractions were about a minute long every six minutes. Finally, at 1:30 a.m., I woke up Jake to tell him this was it. He took over communicating with our parents and doula, and I hopped in the shower. The hot water was soothing as I breathed through the next few contractions.
Because I couldn’t help myself, I had Jake help me make the bed. I wanted to leave the house completely tidy. The next time we came back we would have another (adorable) roommate moving in with us.
Just after 2 a.m., our doula showed up at the house to help assist with my labor and to help us know when it was time to go in. Over the next 45 minutes my contractions were about 50 seconds long every 3 1/2 minutes. I tried sitting which just wasn’t happening. So I mostly stood and swayed my hips side to side while we chatted. Just after 3 a.m., we called the babysitters who were coming to watch J. By now I was light headed and needed Jake or the doula to apply counter pressure on my back during contractions. It really helped for me to put my head down and to push against the wall or
something. I continued to stay calm and focus on my breathing. When the babysitters arrived, I hid in the bathroom until they were in the bedroom because I didn’t feel like chatting. (Can you blame me?)
I decided we better head over to the hospital. We live a block and a half away. Sitting in the car driving to the hospital was torture with J’s birth, so I stubbornly refused to drive, and we started walking. Our doula drove our bags over.
As soon as we got out of our condo building, I started throwing up in the bushes. Apparently, that’s a sign that you’re in transition, but I didn’t know that at the time. Thankfully it was a crisp night and not raining. Walking actually felt way better. I held onto Jake’s arm as we walked, and, luckily, we made it to a tree or building every time a contraction would start so I could push against it while Jake applied counter pressure. I remember thinking how anyone watching me throwing up in the bushes along the way would think I was totally drunk haha.
By the time we got to the hospital and walked to my room, there wasn’t time for us to fill out the paperwork. The nurse started hooking heart monitors up to my stomach to track the baby’s heartbeat. I did NOT like those monitors. My stomach felt like a rock and it hurt like crazy having anything touch it.
The nurse had me lay down, and she checked my progress. As soon as she stuck her finger in to check, my water broke. I was already at a 9.5! (Thank goodness!) I suddenly had the feeling I needed to go to the bathroom, so while I was trying to pee (which didn’t end up happening) they told me the nurse was going to put in my IV. I said I wanted “the pro” (anesthesiologist) to do it because no nurse has successfully put an IV in me, but she said she had to try at least once. Sure enough, she couldn’t. While the anesthesiologist was trying to put the IV in, I felt my baby start to move down my birth canal. I yelled, “She’s coming! She’s coming really soon!”
At this point I got a little frantic and wasn’t focused anymore on my breathing. I was on my left side still getting my IV put in and the nurse was messing with the heart monitors on my stomach. I was yelling that I didn’t like the monitors and I wanted them taken off. (They kept not getting a good read on my baby’s heartbeat, so they had to leave them on.)
Suddenly, the OBGYN on call loudly yelled, “Amber! Stop yelling and listen to me! Between contractions I want you to stop talking and relax. When you feel a contraction coming, grab your leg and pull it up to you and breathe your baby down. It”s time to push.” It kind of shocked me that she yelled at me, but it was exactly what I need to regain my focus and calm down.
Pushing was the hardest part of labor but at that point it didn’t matter because she was coming! I was laying on my left side still so that’s the position I pushed in. I heard our doula ask Jake if J had dark hair, so I knew my baby’s head was coming out and I was almost done. There was definitely that “ring of fire” feeling and I thought I could feel myself tearing. But surprisingly it just didn’t matter. It was just something I had to do.
After less than an hour at the hospital, our beautiful CM was born! They placed her right on my chest and I kissed and hugged her. I felt a strong sense of teamwork like we had accomplished something hard together. I can’t remember exactly what I said to her but something about how we did it! How I loved her and how beautiful she was. She came at 4:34 a.m. weighing 8 pounds 2.2 ounces and was 20.5 inches long. We were totally in love with our new, little bundle!
The nurse later said the cord had been wrapped around her neck and that she had come out face down. (J had been sunny-side up.) I had a 2nd degree tear that they stitched up while I cooed over CM. The sweet thing I had been growing for 9 months and anticipating and preparing for had come! And she was perfect. Immediately I thought she looked like Jake. We’ll see if that’s true as time goes on.
The rest of the hospital stay was great. J came to meet her after Grandma Jan got in. He was in his Batman pajamas, and he spent most of his hospital visit playing with medical equipment and finding alphabet letters. My in-laws came later in the day. We stayed overnight at the hospital and then headed home the next day. We have transitioned smoothly to being a family of four and absolutely love our new, little joy.
Looking back, I am surprised how doable going natural was for me. Definitely intense at the end, but very doable with preparing my body and mind. Thanks to my quick labor and my amazing husband and doula, not once did I wish for an epidural.
As I had been hoping (and praying!), my postpartum recovery this time around was so much easier and more pain free! I’m unsure if it was from going natural or not, but I’m definitely going natural the next time just in case. So bring on the dates, water, prenatal yoga, and positive birth stories…in a bit.
Wasn’t that awesome!? I loved reading Amber’s story! It almost makes me want to go natural if we have another baby! Make sure you check out Amber’s blog, The DIY Lighthouse, and follow her on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram. Thanks to Amber for sharing CM’s birth story and thanks to all of you mamas for coming to read it! Check back in two weeks for another Honest Birth post!