5 years ago…
It all started the day before. I had been having contractions on and off for over a week. I was so anxious to meet our baby, and these “teases” of labor were starting to wear on me. But the funny thing was, that Thursday morning I was feeling really great! After a week of prodromal labor, I woke up that morning feeling like I was in the middle of my 2nd trimester – no real crampiness or contractions, and I even had energy to spare. Even the pelvic bone pain I had been experiencing for the last month or two had finally subsided.
Despite the grateful break in discomfort, I was still ready to meet this babe of ours. Our doula, Chana Luba, came over that morning to check in on us. She had a little “talk” with the baby to encourage some movement and possibly labor.
Chana Luba also gave me an excellent massage on my legs/feet and pressed some labor-inducing pressure points. She showed MD how to do them as well…with the hope that it would stimulate something. Then she set me up on a homeopathic regimen taking Gelsimium, Cimicifuga, and Caulophyllum.
Later that day I went for my weekly check-up at the midwife. Despite knowing that my body was doing its own thing, and that checking internally might not give me a definitive answer, I ended up asking for an internal exam (which is not usually standard at their practice). We found out that I was already 75% effaced and 1.5cm dialated. I was pleased to hear that progress, but also was aware that things could stay like that for a while, so I tried my best not to get too excited.
A couple of hours later, my brother joined MD and I for a late lunch. I was starving, and downed the most delicious hotdog with sauerkraut and mustard. I remember going into the bathroom after lunch and having a mini freak out because I noticed that I was bleeding. When we got home, and the bleeding had not slowed down, I called the midwife’s office where they reassured me that this was standard after an internal exam this late in the game.
I finally went to bed around 10pm, but woke up around midnight, unable to really sleep. I felt restless and a little edgy, pacing around what would be our nursery. Mild contractions had begun again, so I tried to busy myself …hopped online, talked on IM, etc… Around 2am, the contractions started to become a little more intense – more so than any I had felt before, so I woke MD up and he began timing them. They were about 6-8 minutes apart, and we called Chana Luba to give her a head’s up, but said she didn’t have to come right away.
I remember hanging out in the living room, on the couch, trying to find something decent to watch on TV to pass the time. MD kept drifting back to sleep, but I was too excited. I was also pretty annoyed, because apparently after 3AM, anything resembling decent television goes right out the window. I settled on a repeat of The Tonight Show, but tuned out after a while as my contractions came faster. After more intense surges, somewhere around 4am, we called Chana Luba. While we waited for her arrival, we made ourselves a cozy little labor den in the living room. MD brought down a futon mattress to allow me to labor on all fours comfortably, and we had the room lit with candles…it was very peaceful.
Chana Luba arrived a little later and checked in to see how I was doing. I was okay, but clearly in the beginning stages of true labor. I have distinct memory of her cajoling me to eat something. I think I was able to get down an orange.
Around 6AM, Chana Luba suggested taking a bath since I was having major back aches/cramps. While in the tub, at 6:30AM, my water broke in a total gush…I was glad I was in water! It was surreal to watch as swirls of cloudy red mixed in with the clear bath water. As I stood to rinse off, the pressure from the baby’s head was so strong and I could really feel it as the baby moved downwards. In my mind, I was ready to start pushing, but knew we still had some time.
We gathered all of our stuff together, piled into the car and drove to the hospital. It was just the right time of morning…the sun was rising and it was very calm and quiet out.
I had happened to get there during the swap of on-call midwives, so we began by having my blood pressure/babe’s heart rate checked by a nurse (which is a whole other story because the nurse was insitent that something was wrong with the babe since the heart rate was low, but it turned nice and healthy once I switched position – something I wouldn’t have known to do, had my trusty doula not been there, advocating for the my health, and the health of my baby). I didn’t get to see a midwife until about 8:30ish. When she finally checked me I was at 6cm.
I then began to have intense contractions…they flooded my entire body, pulling strongly on my sides and back. Up until then, the pain and cramping associated with the contractions were very similar to ones I’ve had during a painful period. These new ones? They meant business. I could almost feel my body opening and responding as the babe readied to make an appearance.
At that point, my midwife, doula and MD tried to get me to stand up, change positions, or use the shower, but I was attached to the birthing ball. A lot of “fun” stuff happened during this time.
A stand out moment was when MD was helping me rock away the pain and I threw up all over him and my cozy socks I had brought to labor in. I started crying, beyond sad that I had ruined my ultra-comfy socks. I remember apologizing over and over, and MD kept reassuring me, “Really, it’s okay.”
At some point, I ended up in a weird head space….One way ticket to Labor Land please… I could almost see myself laboring, as if outside of my body. It felt like somebody had slipped me something, but I knew I wasn’t on anything. However, I was aware of the pain during surges, but it felt almost good. Productive pain, I called it – pain with a purpose – and it urged me to keep going.
The noises I kept making were primal, loud, and powerful. Moaning gave way to panting which gave way to more moaning. My body rocked, swayed, and bounced as it helped the babe make the journey out into the world.
I some point I started bearing down, but knew I needed to shift my position. I ended up on the bed, laying sideways with my legs pulled up towards me (think, laying down squat). With one final check from my midwife, letting me know I was at 10 cm, I began to push. This is where it gets a bit fuzzy for me, memory wise. I do remember that pushing felt really great, though. MD maintains I was still loudly vocalizing through it all.
I pushed for about a 1/2 hr, and at 11:01AM our beautiful baby boy was born! He was born with his elbow sticking out at his face like he was doing the chicken dance. They laid him right on top of me…allowing us to snuggle and fall in love. The nurse did all his checks while on me. About an hour later, MD gave him his 1st bath.
While I was getting my bearings as a new mama, snuggling my boy and having him nurse, my midwife asked if I wanted to see my placenta.
My placenta? Um…sure! She gave me a “tour” of the placenta, pointing out where it was attached to me and EZ (who, at this point, and up almost 4 days later, had yet to be named). It was actually all sorts of interesting and educational, and I’m surprised I paid attention as much as I did, considering the delicious ball of yum I was cuddling in my arms at the time.
We went home later that evening and spent our 1st night home together as a family of three. Today…it’s FIVE years later. Five years that have gone by in a blink of an eye, despite, at times, feeling like the day/night would never end.