The Birth of Jacob Cooper

We often share stories of women who have had traumatic births in the past, but today we want to honor one of many mothers that have had all wonderful birth experiences.
This mother would’ve never expected that she would’ve made the conscious decision to have an unmedicated birth with her third baby. With all three of her births, she made intentional decisions in her birth team that allowed her to truly #BirthOnPurpose. We hope this gives hope to many mothers in waiting!
The Birth of Jacob Cooper
By Bekki Lowrance
Before we really begin, I have a confession.  I’m seriously the LAST person you’d ever imagine writing a story of her account of an unmedicated birth.  I’m not remotely crunchy, I’ll surely need some sort of intervention to ever entirely drop my soda habit, and I eat wayyyy too much processed food.
Now that I’ve cleaned my conscience, let’s get down to business.
I had three routine vaginal deliveries in three years, each one unique and wonderful in its own right.  My first two were delivered with the help of Pitocin and an epidural while my most recent baby came through an planned unmedicated delivery.  None of them have been what I’d consider to be traumatic and all of my children were healthy at birth, even my middle son who came 6 weeks early.  I have very quick labors in general with my last two babies coming within an hour of labor onset. As far as epidurals, I was surprised by a few things. First, I was shocked that the actual administration of the needle was nearly painless, both times I got them.  I had some fear about this and honestly it hurts a lot more getting your blood drawn.  I experienced a lot of anxiety while using the epidural – I felt stuck and constantly had the sensation of my legs being asleep.  (I didn’t know until my Lamaze class with my third pregnancy that I could have asked them to turn it down a little so I wasn’t feeling so numb.)  The medication also took a long time to wear off.  The feeling didn’t fully return to my legs until nearly 24 hours after each delivery.
When I found out I was pregnant with my third baby, we knew this would be our last.  Between my second and third babies, I had several friends who had either attempted or succeeded with unmedicated deliveries and they were people who I considered to be fairly balanced in their views and not afraid of doctors/ hospitals/ medications in general.  I remember being shocked to hear that one of my friends (an RN with the same OB as me) had two unmedicated deliveries and told me that she thought I’d be a great candidate for it.  I sort of blew her off at first but it did start me on the path of considering it.  I talked to my OB who said she’d support whatever birth plan I wanted, barring any hospital policies or health necessitated interventions.  My husband and I signed up for a Lamaze class, I read a couple of books, and hired a doula friend from church.  Maybe it’s the fact that it was my third child or just the fact that I’m older and (hopefully) wiser, but I just felt at peace about letting my body do its thing and getting out of nature’s way. It seemed strange to me to finally be learning what was happening through the birth process, when I had sort of been on auto pilot before.  Most attendees in our Lamaze classes were on their first kid, and found it funny that we were taking our first classes on our third delivery.  I think more than anything, I just wanted the perspective of a different experience.  I was curious what an unmedicated birth would be like and also wanted to know if I was truly capable of going through with it.
I ended up carrying my last baby to 40 weeks, but had been significantly dilated for several weeks.  Everyone thought he’d come early but he hung on till the very end.  I went to the hospital with cramps – not your standard contractions but I knew I was 6 cm at my appointment the day before and didn’t want to risk spontaneous labor at home.  After being in my room for 8 hours without any real progression, my OB suggested breaking my water to get things going.  I was SOOOO conflicted in this decision.  It was Dec 18th, I was beyond done with being pregnant, and I didn’t want to be in the hospital over Christmas.  However, I knew that once my water broke, I was “on the clock.”  My OB told me she’d give me 12 hours to go into labor on my own before she’d really push Pitocin so I agreed to let her do it.  She broke my water at 9:00 AM, heavy contractions started at 2:00 PM, my doula got there at 2:30 and baby was out by 3:15.  I had spent months preparing for this peaceful, spiritual experience of bringing life into the world.  I had a playlist of film scores from movies like Braveheart, my favorite scents in the form of essential oils, comfy blankets and pillows from home, etc.  I had envisioned laboring in the hospital’s tub, using an exercise ball to relieve pressure on my joints… you get the picture.  All the quintessential things I expected a natural delivery to look like.  In reality, I went from 6 cm to 10 in about 30 mins and when labor came on, it was fast and furious.  There was no time for any of those things.  I was in transition and then I was pushing and then he was here.  I recall thinking during the worst of it that I couldn’t possibly bear this for hours on end and that I might literally die from the pain.  (All my babies have been born sunny side up so my OB concluded that it must just be the shape of my pelvis that causes my babies to pass through like this.)  Also interesting to note that I pushed longer with this baby than with the other two medicated births.  That was contrary to what I thought would happen.  I also had so looked forward to feeling that amazing rush that so many moms alluded to that happened right after birth when all the hormones hit you at once.  That didn’t happen for me.  I underestimated how much it would continue to hurt even after I got him out.  I had so much adrenaline rushing through me that I couldn’t stop shaking.  I was trembling so hard it was difficult for me to hold my baby and I just felt incredibly weak.  My doula was amazing in that moment and came and applied counter pressure to my legs so I physically could not shake against her weight and over a few minutes, it helped me calm down.  I will say that within a couple hours of giving birth, I felt great.  I didn’t feel the lingering effects of medications, and I was incredibly happy that I had accomplished what I’d set out to do.  This baby scored higher on his APGAR test than my other two had and was just so wonderfully healthy from the minute he was born and I couldn’t help but wonder if my unmedicated delivery contributed to that.  The biggest regret I have from this experience is not getting photos during the birth.  (Not talking money shots here, folks, just wanted some of Jon and I in our zone. Ha!)  Everything ended up happening so fast that they just didn’t happen when everyone was so busy.
In closing, I am grateful for three unique delivery experiences and three healthy babies.  When people ask me about medicated vs. unmedicated deliveries, I always stress that birth comes on its own terms.  I planned way more for my third delivery than I did for my first two, but in some ways my first two matched my expectations more than my third.  The more of a plan you make, the more possibility there is that something won’t go according to said plan.  I could have been just as disappointed about not laboring in the tub, listening to the music, using the other various tools and techniques I’d learned as some moms have been with their medicated deliveries.  I think the key is being flexible.  I was okay with the fact that it didn’t turn out just exactly as I had hoped.  If I were to have another pregnancy, I would most likely plan to do another unmedicated birth, mainly because my deliveries were over so quick and I think most people could bear about anything for an hour.  It’s not worth all the “coming off” feelings from the medications for such a short period of pain, to me.  If I knew that I was up against a 12 hour labor, I’d probably opt for an epidural again. I feel so blessed to have had relatively good experiences through both scenarios that can hopefully shed some light to other mamas who might be on the fence about their decisions regarding birth.
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