Kimberly’s First Birth: Unmedicated Hospital Birth with Lots of Toilet Sitting and a “Birth Sandwich”

I absolutely LOVE this story…what a great hospital birth! I especially love the terms “my porcelain friend” and “birth sandwich!” Read on to find out what they mean!

The night of August 1st, two weeks before my “due date” Jason and I were chatting on the bed when I felt myself get all wet. I had heard of super pregnant ladies losing control of their bladders near the end of pregnancy; it hadn’t happened to me yet, so I figured my time had come. I laughed and said, “Oh gee, either my water just broke or I peed my pants.”

I went to the bathroom and discovered it was neither one of those things; I was experiencing the “bloody show”—the singularly worst named part of the birthing experience. Being new to the whole having babies thing, we assumed this meant I’d be going into labor sometime that week. To be safe, I called my Mom, who was planning on coming out to Utah the following week for the birth, told her what was happening, and listened to her excited squeals of delight.

“You have a baby coming!” she said.

“Yeah! But not for a few more days, right…that’s how it works, right?”

“Oh yeah.”

 I told her I was going straight to bed just in case the baby came the following day or something crazy like that and she thought that was a great idea. So Jason and I got ready for bed as some very light contractions started at 9:30. I was not concerned about them in the least, but as I lay down to sleep they became more uncomfortable. I thought it might be like when you have a bad headache—it is harder to fall asleep initially, but once you get there, you sleep right through the discomfort and feel better in the morning. I gave it some time, though, and couldn’t seem to find a comfortable sleeping position, so I got up and started wandering around the house. I didn’t want to wake Jason because I knew if we did go into labor, we’d have a long night ahead of us, but he was too worried about me. I saw him spying me from the bed, and eventually I asked him to start timing my contractions. As it turned out, they were only about 2 minutes apart, which explains how it was so hard to fall asleep. I wanted to make sure we spent as much time as possible at home before we went to the hospital, so I drank some water, took a bath, listened to some hypnosis cd’s (by “listen,” I mean I played them in the background while I got into pushup position, crawled about the floor, leaned on the bed, sat on my exercise ball…I just did anything that would help me relax), but the contractions continued and were growing in intensity. I realized this was the real deal.

Since it was a little earlier than we expected to be going into labor, we weren’t as prepared as I wanted to be: we hadn’t preregistered at the hospital, no bags were packed, no cute banana bread packages for the nurses. I thought about getting all that stuff ready and I wanted to, but my instincts were telling me to focus on what was happening internally. Jason got everything ready for us as I sat on the toilet, which I found was the most comfortable place for me while in labor, and then he called the midwife at about 1:30. She told us to hold off at home for as long as possible—until I couldn’t walk and talk through contractions. Around 3, though, I told Jason I just wanted to go. It wasn’t that I felt I couldn’t walk or talk, but I wanted to handle the whole registration process, and I thought, if I wasn’t ready to have the baby yet, oh well, at least we’d be registered.

The car ride was way better than expected for me. I was able to just ride the contractions one at a time and focus into myself instead of on the bumpy road. I opened my eyes once on the way there and saw a car next to us at a red light and I wondered if they knew that we were getting ready to have a baby. By the time we got to the hospital, things were getting very intense. I would stop every few steps as another wave of pressure hit me and try to just submit to it and let it do its job. It was funny for Jason trying to walk with me down the hall since the nurses were in sight and it still took me ages to get to them.

The nurses asked me what I was there for, which I thought was funny, and I let them know I thought I was having a baby. We got into this gorgeous birthing room, and I was monitored for the first few minutes so they could know it was the real thing. I was dilated to three centimeters, and the contractions were coming on strong, so they let me know that they would check me again in an hour to make sure I was progressing, but they were confident things would move along. I tried to stay in my hospital gown, but I kept getting too hot, so I spent about 98 percent of labor completely in the buff. The funny thing was I met so many people in that time while I was completely naked and everyone seemed to be fine with it—including myself. Ha! The toilet was still being my main comfort, so I went back there and tried to relax through some very intense contractions. I noticed I was bleeding, and the nurses said that indicated I was transitioning. They filled up the bathtub for me so I could have a chance to relax in there and that was so nice. The warm water was putting me to sleep, but I found as soon as another contraction hit, I wanted to go right back to the toilet. A second check let me know I was already at 5 centimeters, and the nurses were being super encouraging. They told me that I was the best pregnant woman ever and that they couldn’t believe this was my first baby and whatnot, and it helped me feel more empowered.

Because I had gestational diabetes, they had to put in a heplock in case I needed insulin or food down the road. I really tried to turn completely off during contractions, and I think I did, but I felt bad for the poor nurse who was trying to do her job in between things. There was a very small window there, and on her first poke, she missed my vein causing a real bloody show. My oh my–it looked like a crime scene. While I didn’t love the times I had to be monitored (I preferred to be on the toilet), I really do feel like I was able to deeply relax and submit to each contraction in that time. It was kind of miraculous, and I felt so deeply grateful for every comfort during that time.

Jason was the best companion I could have asked for. As I sat on the toilet, he pressed on my back to help relieve some pressure. I was kind of unaware of time and just focused on what we were doing, but I realize now that he must have pushed on me for hours. When the midwife, Kathryn, came in, she pressed on my knees while Jason pressed on my back, squishing me in this wonderfully relieving birth sandwich. I am going to try to think up a new name for that…

 My nurse asked if I had any desire to push, and I told her I did, but it didn’t feel like anything new or different, just a desire to move my bowels. She suggested we move to the bed, “We don’t want this baby born in toilet water.” So I had to bid farewell to my porcelain friend. Fortunately, those hospital beds are quite nice. They even have a little rounded hole part so you can move the bed to be like a toilet. To that I said, “yes, please,” and held on to a squat bar for my next check. I was moving right along—I think an 8 by this time, and they said as soon as I felt like it I could start pushing. So we sat there and waited for a while. I got another check at some point and was fully dilated. This was oddly very relieving on my contractions, as I assumed they would just become more and more intense with time, but not so. I started pushing, when our midwife got a phone call. She bolted out of the room and I second later we heard a woman screaming like a banshee. “Oh,” says the nurse, “She’s pushing her baby out right now, too.” By golly, what was I in for?

Kathryn came back a few minutes later and explained that the mother next door was planning on delivering with a doctor, but the baby came so fast, the doc couldn’t make it in time. The husband couldn’t even make it on time; he was parking the car and came into the hospital room to find his new baby screaming on his wife’s chest. Ha!

I started pushing again and here’s where things got pretty tricky. I was getting tired and apparently we were losing oxygen. I held a mask up to my face and rolled onto my side to help facilitate the flow of air and pushed with all my might. The midwife was stretching my skin and kept telling me to give one more push and one more push. “Can you give one more,” she’d say, and sometimes I would have to admit, “No.” But I knew we could do it. I wasn’t scared and I felt the comfort and assurance I needed, both from Jason and from God that we’d be alright. I was warned that if I couldn’t get the baby out in the next few tries, they’d have to use forceps or the vacuum extractor, but I was fortunate to be able to push her head down far enough that I could even feel it. With a few more strong pushes, they had me reach down and carry my baby to my chest. She had jet-black hair and a lion-like roar. I was overwhelmed seeing her. She is stunningly beautiful, and I was crying and she was crying and Jason was crying, and it was the happiest and best moment ever. We named our daughter Natalie Bea. She was 6 lbs 9 oz, 19.5 inches long, and the eleven hours of labor flew by.

There were some tough times after that. I had broken my tailbone in the process and had some tearing, but the hardest thing was on day 2, they took our baby girl to the NICU for an infection. Those were a couple of really hard days. I felt glad that I hadn’t had any interventions during labor, though, because I think if I had I might have blamed them for Natalie’s infection or something, which would have made things emotionally more difficult for me. We are so grateful that she’s here and so so glad she is home. I loved my birthing experience and love our baby even more, and I am very glad that I had the tools I needed to help me relax and feel confident for my birthing time.



  1. Jean Harrison says:

    Wow, What a great story! So glad you were able to stay so relaxed. And congratulations to both you and your husband on your new little one 🙂

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