(Guest Blog) A Birth Story by Krysten Barnhill

What a surprise Krysten was! I remember talking with her at 3am on the phone when she was asking for some other ideas of what to do. She was so calm, you could hardly tell she was in labor. Knowing how far along she was when she got to the hospital I suspect she was in active labor at this point, but didn’t know it. Her mom arrived while she was talking with me and she laughed as she dealt with her dog while talking to me and letting in her mother, all while in labor.  I explicitly remember her mentioning how she knew she should start making a cake but really just didn’t feel like it. I couldn’t help but chuckle at how adamant she felt about this cake. Normally baking a cake is an amazing way to pass the time to help yourself stay home longer, but if Kyrsten had started one she likely would have had her baby at home 🙂 Krysten was the definition of calm and strength as she brought her baby into the world. I was thankful I was able to get there in time to witness and support her. <3

– Bethany

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It took a little longer to get pregnant than I expected, but after a positive pregnancy test, right before Christmas, I wrapped up the announcement as a gift to my husband. We were ecstatic! It was so hard to keep it from my family. They all suspected I was pregnant right away, but I wanted to keep it a secret for the first trimester because of my fear of miscarrying. 

Overall my pregnancy was fairly easy. I had mild nausea in the beginning but nothing that slowed me down. I even did CrossFit consistently throughout my pregnancy. I read Pregnancy, Childbirth and the Newborn: The Complete GuideExpecting Better: Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom Is Wrong–and What You Really Need to Know, and Natural Hospital Birth. These books resulted in a lot of mental preparation about how I wanted my labor and birth experience to go. I took the online Hypnobabies course, but ultimately it was not the right program for me and I ended up having no desire to use their techniques when labor kicked into high gear.  Most of my time preparing for labor was spent working out 5 days a week and doing yoga, gentle stretching, and lots of modified cat-cows.

My husband Brian didn’t have any strong opinions about labor and birth that I am aware of : ) I had a pretty good idea of how I wanted things to go, so he just supported me in my decisions. I also stayed with the hospital my OBGYN was affiliated with and I was fortunate they were supportive of a natural birth.

I felt pretty good leading up to labor, even on my due date I didn’t really feel like I was about to have a baby. I did modified CrossFit workouts up until my due date, and then went for a 1 mile walk on my due date. Halfway through my walk my lower back started hurting, and I thought “this is either a sign of pre-labor, or my back hurts because my big belly is throwing off my center of gravity.” My back continued to ache mildly through the next day (which was a rest day so I did yoga). I also started feeling light pressure waves throughout the day so I went to bed to get some rest because at that point I had a feeling I might be in labor.

Part of my early labor plan was to bake a cake, but I didn’t quite know when the right time to bake the cake was. I didn’t know if I was in early labor or just having Braxton hicks’ contractions considering I wasn’t really that uncomfortable. It turns out my early labor activities working and talking to my dad as he worked on some projects around my house.  As soon as I went to bed the contractions started feeling like actual contractions. I tried to relax and stay in bed, but 2 hours later, I needed a bit more distraction. At that point, the thought of baking a cake was not appealing (and neither were the Hypnobabies techniques). I tried watching a movie but that didn’t last long. I then asked my mom to come over to support me (in the middle of the night!!) and took a shower while I waited for her. Once she got there we sat and talked and I did my best to just relax and let the contractions happen. Most of the time I laid on my side, switching positions every once in a while, and dozing off for a minute or two between contractions.  By 5:00 am it was getting difficult to manage the contractions and at 6:00 I decided it was time to go to the hospital. After loading up the car we got to the hospital just after 7:00 and I was fully dilated (which I was very thankful for because the contractions were getting real). About an hour and a half later Nola was born!

We chose not to find out the gender of our baby. When Nola was born she was placed in my arms and the midwife asked my husband Brian to check to see if the baby was a boy or girl. His response, “it’s a Nola!” confused everyone, but I knew what he meant. We had already decided on the name if it was a girl. Once she was placed in my arms she remained there for quite a while. We nursed, although it was a bit of a struggle.

The first few weeks of postpartum were difficult as I healed and adjusted to life as a mom. I kept a positive attitude though, even when she would cry all night. Slowly, we got the hang of things and learned how to sooth her. Learning to nurse in the beginning was quite challenging and a bit painful. I saw 3 lactation consultants in the hospital and I met with the lactation consultant in my pediatrician’s office.  I then had Nola’s mouth checked for a tongue and lip tie by a pediatric dentist. He confirmed they needed to be clipped and released her ties. After that I worked with another lactation consultant and now we are nursing like pros! (most days).

My birth experience was almost exactly how I wanted it to go, with the exception of not getting the cake baked. I do wish I would have pushed slower, but overall, I’m still very happy with my experience. I did a lot of mental and physical preparation for it and I’m proud to have had the experience I strived for.

 

My advice for other expecting mamas would be to read about labor and birth to understand all of the different pain management options. I think having a natural birth is a wonderful experience, but I also felt I did a lot of mental and physical preparation to get there. I also would recommend a doula if anyone wants to try to have a natural childbirth. I was able to stay home longer because I would communicate with Bethany. Without her, I would have likely panicked and headed to the hospital much earlier which could have changed my experience. At home I was comfortable, safe, and confident and I think those feelings played a large part in achieving the birth I wanted.

Also consider getting video of the first few moment of having your baby in your arms. After being awake for over 24 hours I remember the first moment with my daughter, but the memory fades a bit and I wish I could go back and watch it so I could remember it clearly forever. 

Also eat all of the cake during pregnancy : )

 

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