This post may contain affiliate links. Thanks for supporting the blog!
It’s been three weeks since the arrival of Ryan Nicol Schroeder. The first few days after her birth, I was in complete shock. I’ve never been through something so physically and emotionally tolling.
From the very beginning of our pregnancy, I knew I wanted to try for an unmedicated childbirth with as little intervention as possible. Thankfully, we had a very healthy pregnancy which made that an option.
I feel like so many women who choose to do an unmedicated birth highlight the beauty and peace that they experienced. I’ve even heard some women say it was the “Closest they ever felt to God.” Those are not words I would use to describe our unmedicated birth experience.
On Friday, June 11th, I had my 39 week check-up appointment. I was 2 cm dilated and almost completely effaced. My doctor offered me a membrane strip, which I gladly accepted. It was incredibly painful and triggered a lot of cramping and contractions throughout the day and into the evening.
I kept thinking, “Maybe this is it,” but by morning, the contractions had eased instead of progressing. Later in the day, they appeared again and lasted for quite a few hours, eventually easing up, yet again.
On Sunday, around 4:00 pm, I sat down to work and the contractions came again. I felt like they were teasing me at this point. I was so ready to go into labor. Turns out, this was the real deal. Early labor had started, and I would be in for a treat in the middle of the night.
Instead of easing up, the contractions got to the point where I couldn’t sleep. Around 2:30 am, I wandered downstairs for my phone (I don’t sleep with it in our room), so I could start timing the contractions. They were surprisingly long and fairly close together.
Around 6:00 am it was almost time for Andrew to get up for work. I woke him up before his alarm sounded and said, “I think this is it.” Contractions progressed and shortly after I woke him up we called our doula, Jordan, of Indiana Birth and Parenting. She confirmed we were most likely in labor, but had time to spend at home before heading into the hospital.
We called my mom who lives 3.5 hours away to let her know it was time to hit the road! Our doctor had just informed us two days prior that she would also be allowed in the delivery room, so the timing couldn’t have been more perfect.
By 8:30 am the contractions were falling into what they call the 5,1,1 rule. Contractions were happening every 5 minutes, lasting for one minute each for over an hour. We called Jordan again, and it was time to meet at the hospital.
When we arrived, they checked me in triage, and I was 4 cm dilated and 90% effaced. Our doula was there, and we were officially in active labor! I was overjoyed that I was able to experience spontaneous labor. It was everything I had hoped for.
We were escorted to our delivery room around 9:30 am and my mom was there within the hour. The minute she walked through the door tears filled my eyes. I was so thankful to share this special day with her.
My doctor and the amazing staff at IU North were 100% supportive of my decision to try for an unmedicated birth experience. I don’t know that I could have made it through the painful contractions with no medication without the amazing hospital staff and our doula.
Because my pregnancy was healthy and the baby looked great, I was allowed to labor freely with intermittent monitoring, meaning I only had to be hooked up to the monitor (which was wireless) every couple of hours to check the baby’s heartbeat and the timing and length of my contractions. This is what really made my ideal birth experience possible in the hospital.
I began by laboring on the birthing ball, walking around, and leaning over the bed. Jordan was always beside me helping alleviate pain with massage techniques, heat packs, cold packs, and wet rags. I feasted on cherry popsicles provided by the nurse.
As contractions became stronger, we filled the tub with hot water, and I climbed inside wearing my bra and underwear. Andrew brought me snacks. I’ll never forget eating those CheezIts and beef jerky while hanging over the side of the bathtub!
It was time for the nurse to hook us up to the monitor, and I chose to get out of the bathtub. At this time, I was presented with the choice to have my water broken, but I decided to wait it out a bit longer. I knew the pain would intensify once they broke my water, so I was extremely nervous. Once, I hit 6 cm dilated, I decided to have my doctor break my water. The benefit of this was it would help things progress quickly, and that it did.
The contractions intensified extremely and the pain became unbearable. I got back into the bathtub and continued to dilate. At this point, I’m completely naked because nothing mattered but breathing through every contraction. This was where the real work truly began.
I had to fight through every single wave and they were coming so close together that I couldn’t catch a break from the immense pain. I can’t count the times I screamed, “I can’t. I can’t do this.” Andrew was right by my side the entire time. I grabbed at his arms and buried my head into his chest. My mom and Jordan were also close by cheering me on. We did at least one round of intermittent monitoring while in the tub.
Birth mantras ran through my head like a broken record. “You were made for this. You are bringing life into the world. You will meet your baby soon.” When I really felt like I couldn’t’ make it through, I confessed to myself that, “No, you can’t do this, but God can.” And just like that, He did. The minute I surrendered and gave it to God, things moved quickly.
It was time to transition. I got out of the tub and was checked by a nurse on the bed. At this point, I was 8.5 cm dilated and fully effaced. The hospital bed was in an upright position, and I threw myself over the back of it.
The contractions changed offering relief between them, but during them, I was vomiting all over myself and the bed. Turns out, the red popsicles weren’t the best idea. Between each contraction, I would let my body melt into the bed. My body knew what to do. It was giving me rest in preparation for pushing this tiny, little life out.
Andrew stood on one side and my mom on the other offering a puke bag with every contraction. The vomiting was a distraction from the intense urge and pressure to bear down. During this phase, my body completely took over. I felt like I had no control and had to surrender to the process of what was about to happen.
I expressed that I had a strong urge to push, so the next time a nurse came into the room, everyone around me shared that with her. She offered to check me and I obliged. At this point, I was fully dilated to 10 cm and completely effaced. The nurse let me know and told me that I could bear down a little, but not to truly push yet.
There was no stopping the progression to push. It was time whether the doctor was there or not. I remember Andrew looking down there and saying, “This baby is coming.” There was no doctor or nurse in sight. They hadn’t even wheeled in the delivery tool cart yet, but I couldn’t stop my body from doing what it needed to do.
My doctor was gone for the day and her partner wasn’t going to make it in time. The hospital laborist eventually made it into the room along with the nurses and the delivery cart. The head was already crowning by the time she made it in. I rolled over to my back and the doctor had me grab the backs of my thighs.
I began to push and it felt like sweet relief with each contraction. Everyone was narrating what was happening and the encouragement helped me force all of my energy into getting my baby out into the world. I remember my mom yelling, “I see the head!” It was so motivating.
The doula instructed me to hold onto each push with my breath. My legs were incredibly tense and clamping together in pain. The doctor encouraged me to relax them wide so I wasn’t fighting against myself.
As the head came out, the doctor tried to have me slow down and work her out gently, but I couldn’t stop pushing forcefully. I could feel when the head rushed out and it was time to deliver the rest of her little body.
After only a handful of pushes, she was here at 7:14 pm. Ryan Nicol Schroeder. Weighing 7 pounds 10 ounces and measuring 19.4” long. She had a soft dusting of brown hair and wide eyes ready to take on the world.
I could hear Andrew and the doctor mumbling about only a small grade one tear and some minimal burning. She debated on stitching the tear, but ended up doing so to help with the bleeding. The needle used to numb the area wasn’t pleasant, but I was very distracted by our new bundle of joy.
They clamped her cord, but Andrew delayed cutting it right away. Bringing my baby up to my breast that first time was such a surreal moment. One filled with shock, exhaustion and bliss. Ryan Nicol was earthside. We were officially a family of three. My heart instantly grew 100x over with one look at her.