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Laughter: A Natural Plus Size Birth Story

My natural plus size birth story started Sunday, March 22nd, 2014 and I was having some pretty strong, consistent contractions. After timing them for a couple of hours, we went to the hospital around 8:00 pm. 

plus size woman giving birth

Natural Plus Size Birth Story

The nurse checked me and I was 4 cm dilated.

I’m like, “Cool! We are going to be admitted and we are going to have this baby.”

Unfortunately, my contractions fizzled out and they sent us home.

My husband and I were so disappointed, but at least we knew I had made some sort of progress.

On Monday, March 23rd, we decided to go for a walk to help get things going. When we got home, Antonio made me a spicy meal and did everything he could think of to get my labor going.

Around 2:00 pm, my contractions started getting a lot more intense… so much so that I had to really concentrate on my breathing. I’m going to say this upfront, I HATE timing contractions. Some were 5 minutes apart, some 15 minutes and others only 2-3!

Related: A Journey In Self-Love Through My Plus-Size Pregnancy And Birth

By about 3:30 pm, we decided that we were going back to the hospital, but we had to wait for my older daughter Ariana to get home from school and have dinner. There I am, laying on the couch and very miserable from the pain and home life is going on as normal. By 5:30 pm, I tell Antonio it’s definitely time to go to the hospital and he, of course, looks like he’s about to freak out!

On the two other occasions we’ve gone to the hospital, my contractions have slowed, but not this time.

We walk into the lobby and the hospital is so busy. I’m thinking, “Great! We are going to be here a while before I even get checked!” They were actually out of triage rooms and the nurse had to find a place to stick me and one other woman.

The first room they put us in was definitely unacceptable…there wasn’t even a bed!

While the nurse was trying to find another room, she gives me the cup and tells me to pee in it. I go into the bathroom, set up the cup and FORGET TO PEE IN IT! I come out apologizing to the nurse and she said it was okay, we could get it later.

They took us to another room, this one an actual labor and delivery room and the nurse told us if we were admitted, we would most likely stay there.

Before I even got undressed, I asked for a birthing ball, which they happily got out for me.

The nurse came in and checked me… and I was 8 cm dilated!

I definitely could have done a happy dance because I KNEW they couldn’t send me home this time. So there I am, happily half-naked on the birthing ball and breathing through my contractions while Antonio went to make the phone calls.

About 30 or so minutes later, the nurse comes back and tells us we have to go to another room!

I’m like, “are you kidding me?!?” I get dressed and waddle down corridor after corridor until we finally get to the room where I’ll be staying the next few days. As is my luck, right as I get settled in, there’s a shift change! Not only did the midwife on-call change, but so did the labor nurses. I can only thank God for this small miracle!

My labor nurse was the worse nurse ever (just kidding)! She was so ditzy and forgetful, it was crazy. She was part of what made my experience so awesome.

They have a whiteboard where they ask what you want out of your care and I said: “Laughter…giving birth isn’t supposed to be serious!”

A few nurses had a little joke going, saying I’m not allowed to be on the toilet since that’s where Ariana had been born.

The midwife that came on duty was a godsend!

Related: Fat And Pregnant – 7 Things I Wish I Would Have Known

I gladly bow down to this woman. Whenever she did a cervical exam, it was always so gentle that I didn’t mind. When some of my contractions were a little more intense, she knew exactly what I wanted, whether it was rubbing my shoulders, fanning me with a cold wet cloth or just suggesting I change positions.

Everybody was amazed at how well I was doing. They kept saying, “She’s really 8cm?!? She doesn’t look like it!” Apparently, they had never seen anything like it before.

Unfortunately, because of my weight, the anesthesiologist had to come and talk to me about getting an IV and all this other crap. I flatly refused and they pretty much told me that it was hospital policy to have at least a hep-lock with somebody of my size. That really pissed me off and I finally said whatever, just get it done with.

Antonio and I discussed it briefly and decided it was better safe than sorry. In a way, if something had gone wrong, I’m glad they did it then.

My veins were very hard to find and it took 3 nurses and 5 tries for them to get an acceptable hep-lock…and even that one hurt like hell and was totally iffy in my book. I felt like a pin cushion by the time they were done and now my arm was uncomfortable and felt very itchy.

My midwife checked me again and I was about 9 cm dilated, but not fully effaced yet; there was still a small lip. She asked me to get in bed (! first time I had really been in there except to be checked) and to lie on my side to see if that would help.

Almost immediately my contractions got 10 times worse and I’m like, THIS is why I wanted to stay out of the bed! Eventually, she told me that if I felt like giving some experimental pushes, to go ahead. I did and it felt better.

And so the pushing began, probably around 9:30 pm or so, time was kind of fuzzy at that point.

At first, I just laid in bed pushing a little here and there and feeling like I’m making no progress.

Jean, my midwife, said if I wanted to, I could go sit on the toilet and see if that felt any better. So I sat and pushed a few times, but just felt really uncomfortable and just like it wasn’t what I wanted. They asked if I wanted to use the squatting bar and I said sure, so my nurse Stacy went on a mission to find a bar that fit my particular bed.

Once the squat bar was setup I said, “you want me to do WHAT with that thing?”

The way its set up is that you stand on the bed, lean your upper body over the bar and squat down. Definitely way too athletic for me!

I tried pushing a few times and I just felt really self-conscious and uncomfortable. Jean suggested I lay on the bed, but with my feet on the bar. This definitely felt a LOT better, though I still felt like I wasn’t making any progress. They decided to get out a sheet and tie it around the bar and have me pull on it while I pushed, that way I would be using more of my abs to push. I LOVED this!

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So there I am, pulling on the sheet while I’m pushing and it really starts to hurt.

Jean, my lovely mind-reader, took a washcloth, dipped it in warm water and kept wringing it out over my vagina, then would lie the washcloth down on me between contractions. I don’t know what it was, but it gave me the mental okay to really push.

I was kind of paranoid about what fluids were coming out when I was pushing and this way I didn’t have to worry about it.

With each new set of pushes, I finally start groaning and grunting. I can’t recall EVER making these sounds: so deep and guttural.

Jean kept praising my efforts, saying it was good how I was pushing from down below rather than my forehead (apparently there weren’t any creases or strain showing in my face).

Next thing I know, it’s after 11 and my wish of having Leilani on her due date was rapidly going out the window.

I looked at Jean and I’m like, “we can get this done before midnight, right?” I continued pushing and between one contraction when we were almost done I tell Antonio that I’m hungry.

Everybody starts laughing and tells me I can eat in a little bit after I have the baby.

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Next thing I know, I’m pushing really hard and the ring of fire starts. I immediately wanted to stop pushing because THAT hurt. The next contraction I remind myself to push into the pain, that it’s almost over. I can feel her head sliding out slowly and it really hurts.

Between contractions, I’m lying there with my eyes closed and trying to relax as much as possible. I’m getting extremely tired and just want it over with.

The next contraction comes and I push for all I’m worth and the pain is SO intense that I want to stop, but my body kept wanting to push, so I push and push and push.

My nurse is rushing around getting everything ready and Antonio made the mistake of looking. He almost had to sit down for a second there, lol.

Related: My 400 lbs Birth Story

Next thing I know, her head is out and Leilani is already crying. Jean suctions her mouth and nose, telling me to keep pushing. I was thinking, okay the worst is over, the head is out.

Um, yeah… right! The shoulders hurt much worse than the head! I seriously felt like I was taking a huge constipated crap.

Finally, Leilani came out at 11:36 pm; they dried her off a little and put her on my stomach. She’s crying, I’m crying, Antonio’s crying!

She was the most beautiful little girl I had ever seen and had a full head of dark brown hair. I’m looking at this little angel in my arms…and the little angel pees on me! Barely out of the womb and I’m already being initiated into parenthood.

Months ago, I vaguely remember talking about waiting before the umbilical cord is cut and thinking it was a good idea. Jean waited until the cord stopped pulsing before clipping it and having Antonio cut it. This woman is definitely a mind-reader!

Everybody kept telling me how wonderful I did. I looked at them all like they were crazy because I didn’t do anything extraordinary! I just did what I had to in order to give birth to my baby. All I did was cope with the pain and do what my body told me to.

Either way, I don’t think my experience would have been what it was without this particular nurse and midwife. They almost never left my side and took such great care of me! I only suffered a tiny tear, not even worth getting stitched.

Leilani Paige was born on her due date of March 23, 2009, at 11:36 pm, weighed 7 pounds 11 ounces, 21.5 inches long and a head of 13 inches.

Related: Braeden’s Birth Story: Plus Size Natural Childbirth With A Midwife

Other than the bruises from the hep-lock tries and slight soreness in my lower abs, I feel totally awesome!

Overall, my stay at the hospital was great. The nurses were so nice and I felt so pampered. They spent a lot of time helping me with breastfeeding and I feel like I was able to have a good starting point.

I started this pregnancy weighing in at 265 and weighed in on my due date weighing 271.

I’m ecstatic to finally have my little peanut to hold and love. Ariana is taking it very well and you can tell she already loves the baby.

You can read other natural plus size birth stories here

Jen McLellan, CBE
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