Birth Story: Amelia Freeman

Birth Story: Amelia Freeman

Amelia's is the Founder of  - a community driven site,to connect, share + learn from one another (IRL) during early stages of motherhood! 

BK Bump's Birth Story

Birth was something I always feared growing up. No doubt it was due to the way it was repeatedly portrayed in film and on television as a horrifically painful event with anger, crazed emotions and resentment toward men. I remember knowing that when I became pregnant, I would surely have anxiety about getting him or her out. Thinking there was “no way” that I would enter this experience feeling ready and confident. Fast forward several years of trying-to-conceive-later and my view had drastically changed. I couldn’t wait to get the baby out and instead of fearing the delivery, I was actually excited for it.

Somewhere along the way I had decided that I wanted to try for an unmedicated birth. I can’t remember the exact moment that my brain switched from “yes, give me ALL the drugs” to “I don’t think I need
them” but whenever it was, the turn of events was extreme. I began reading everything I could about doing a birth without interventions and as each month passed, I felt more confident that it was something I might actually be able to achieve.

I went into labor on my thirty-second birthday and from the moment I felt the first period-like cramp, I began building my confidence for what I assumed (and I was right) would be the long road ahead (to baby). My mantra was to take the pain one contraction at a time. To try not to focus on what was ahead, but instead breathe through the moment and that moment alone. At the beginning, this way of thinking worked great. I felt the first contraction a little after 5pm, but to be honest, I wasn't quite sure what I was feeling yet. Was this it? Could it actually be happening? My gut told me it was, so we cancelled our original dinner plans (a mini road trip to Chili’s in Staten Island - this Midwest girls’ guilty pleasure...skillet queso...need I say more?) and ordered pizza instead. My mom had flown in that day from St. Louis (perfect timing) so we video called my brother and his family on the West Coast and told them “we don’t know yet, but something might be happening!”

As the cramps kept coming that first hour every 10-15 minutes or so, my excitement that we were actually doing this turned to an eager thrill. My husband anxiously texted our doula. I had a smile you couldn’t erase and we ran around the apartment making sure everything was just right before we left to meet our baby boy. All the reading, preparation, yoga and exercise led me up to this moment and I knew exactly what to do - or so I thought.

The funny thing about pain, is that when you’re in it, it tends to blur out reality and overshadow thought. It wasn’t until many, many hours later that I really noticed what was happening, which was this: all of my
reading, planning, moves I practiced with my doula, props I bought to assist in pain management (the rebozo and the exercise ball) got about as much use as the items in my hospital bag - which were none (I never opened it). Everything I thought I’d do, use and practiced, flew out the window as my body took over and the labor persisted.

Around 8pm my contractions had become much closer together (about 5 minutes apart) and the pain was slightly beginning to intensify. I lit some candles, took a bath and went into the bedroom to “relax”. YEAH RIGHT! I was way too excited to relax, but nonetheless per everyone’s birthing instructions EVER, I tried. The hours ticked on and the contractions grew closer. Around 11:30pm, about the time the opening credits for SNL began to roll, we sent another update to our doula that the contractions were about 4 minutes apart at 33-45 seconds each, to which she replied “I’m coming over.”

She arrived around midnight and the four of us (my husband, mother, doula and myself) breathed, timed and moved through the discomfort together until about an hour later when they were finally hitting 1 minute in duration and were averaging around 3-4 minutes between. I felt confident that it was time to go, so we packed up, kissed the pugs goodbye and drove to NYP Lower Manhattan in the middle of the night with zero traffic. Thank you, baby!

When we got there, I was admitted into triage and was the only patient in sight. The nurse came to see me within the half hour, checking my cervix to report that I was 4 cm dilated. I thought this was terrific and despite her agreeing that it was good news, she had other thoughts. She asked if I wanted an epidural. I told her that I was going to try to pursue without one, to which she replied, “then I think it’s best that you go home and come back when you’re more dilated.” To me, this was the worst thing she could have said. It was like telling a kid at the amusement park that they couldn’t get on any of the rides. We were there, we were ready and we had a bag full of LED candles, diffusers and Christmas lights just waiting to be strung. There was no way I was leaving. 

I asked her if that meant that if I were to have an epidural I could stay? She said yes. Although it seemed unfair, I had done enough research to understand why. If we stayed, we were on the clock. She explained that she strongly encouraged me to go home (back to Brooklyn? No thank you) or at least leave and walk around outside (in the middle of the night? Hm.). Her reasoning was this: once admitted, they will expect a certain level of progress within a certain amount of time. If I was not progressing within that period, it was more likely that interventions would need to be made, the first starting with pitocin. Pitocin and epidurals go together like PB&J so I wasn’t getting one without the other. Discouraged and frustrated, we asked for time to discuss. We walked around the small triage room for probably half an hour weighing our options until the nurse returned. My contractions were steadily 3 minutes apart for 1 minute at a time, so my biggest concern was how would we know when to come back? In my heart I knew leaving wasn’t the
best option for us and that he would make his entrance today. So in the end, we told her we wanted to stay.

We checked into our labor & delivery suite around 3am and quickly began setting up the room for maximum comfort (hanging Christmas lights, placing candles in the windows, diffusing scents of lavender). The pain had begun to intensify at a level that was becoming cringe-worthy as my labor hit the
12 hour mark. My contractions were spiking over 100 and I was doing everything I could to ease the pain. My doula massaged, my husband danced and my mother kept me hydrated and warm. I spent time in the shower singing Christmas tunes (heavenly) and tried my best to stay positive and remember my mantra - one contraction at a time. Around 7am, the nurses changed shifts and I was checked again. Six centimeters. Six.

The Physician’s Assistant (PA) on duty said that was great. I was hoping for more but didn’t really begin to panic until she said they’d come back and check me again around noon. NOON?! My contractions were coming every 2 minutes at this point and lasting around (or longer) than one minute each and she wouldn’t be back for five more hours?

This is where I started to break.

Mentally. Physically. Emotionally. The cookie began to crumble. Noon hanging around my brain like the hours spent waiting for Christmas morning to arrive as a child - unimaginably far away.

Within the next two hours I was vomiting and releasing my bowels at the same time. I was exhausted. I had been laboring for 16 hours with no near end in sight and I was done. I called for the epidural. I felt like I had failed my own plan. I cried as the words came out but I knew if I didn’t rest now, the worst was yet to come. Within a half hour the IV was in and I was getting a needle in my back. I heard the Nurse Anesthetist tell the Anesthesiologist that she was having trouble with the fit. I overheard him telling her in the corner of the room that she used the cap for disc 5 when it should have been in disc 4 (or something like that). He then told me they were taking it out and doing it again. Great, I thought. Just what everyone wants to hear.

Once successfully in, my lower half became numb immediately and I honestly hated the feeling wondering if I had made a mistake. The nurse lifted my legs over to lay flat on the bed. I could no longer move or feel, but I could rest. And I did. I fell asleep quickly and enjoyed about three hours of uninterrupted rest. At noon the PA came back in to check how dilated I was. Still six.

Was it because I hadn’t moved? I didn’t know but what I did, was that had I been unmedicated for five more hours and still at a six, I would have lost my marbles. The relief and the rest was what I had needed and looking back, I’m truly thankful for that time.

At that point we had the option to break my water to help things progress or wait two more hours and see what happens. If I didn’t want my water broken, I was strongly encouraged to consider pitocin. I decided to let them break my water and I’m so glad I did because when they came back around 2:00pm, I was 9 centimeters. The PA told me that she’d be back soon and that they would prepare the room for delivery. This was exciting news for all! I couldn’t wait to get him out.

Around 3:30pm I started pushing in long strides of three with two short breaths in between. I could feel enough to know how hard to push but I wasn’t in pain while doing so. I kept hitting the epidural button as added insurance that this part wouldn’t hurt too much. The PA and nurse on duty were wonderful. They offered to let me watch with a mirror as my mom held my left leg and my doula held my right. I caught one glimpse of my stretched out genitals and asked that they kindly take it away. I needed to focus and
seeing the hair on the top of my little boys head poking out, as exciting as it was, was only a distraction for me. Next thing I knew my mom was saying things like “oh I see his ear!” and the nurses, “his head’s popping out then going back in. We need you to not take as long of a break between pushes and you’ll be meeting him very soon!” After some time, the delivery doctor came in. She was bright, positive and sincere and just the added encouragement I needed to finish the job. 

And finish I did. At 4:06pm, I could feel an immense relief and literal weight lifted out from inside me as our beautiful baby boy was lifted into the air for the very first time. My husband held my hand and we cried with anticipation to spend the rest of our lives with this perfect tiny human.

He cried a hysterical cry for what seemed like minutes as he was promptly dried off and laid on my bare chest. All I wanted was to see his little face but instead embraced the warmth of our skin coming together as one and asked my husband repeatedly “if he was okay?” and “what did he look like?”

I suffered a second degree tear and was sewn up for the better part of the hour but I didn’t mind. I was enamored and so in love. And tired. So very tired. After the doctors left and my son was given his necessary medical once over, I began to fade into a migraine-induced delirium. It was time to rest and
time for dad to share some cuddles with his mini. Seeing them there as I faded off to sleep, our son in my husband’s arms, is a vision I will never forget.

December 8th, 2019 is and will always be, the best day of my life. 23 hours of labor, 7lbs 15oz and 20.5” long, all numbers ingrained into my brain forever and ever. Although it didn’t go exactly as “planned”, I’m learning more and more each day that parenthood never will. So what better way to experience that, then right out the gate?

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Disclaimer: This is general medical information and not specific medical advice.  It does not and should not replace diagnosis or treatment by your healthcare provider. If you are seeking personal recommendations, advice, and/or treatment, please consult your physician. If you have an emergency, you should contact 911 or go to the nearest Emergency Room.