I woke up feeling like I had to go to the bathroom at 11:55pm on October 31st. I felt like that all the time, since the baby thought it was amusing to “head bang” on my bladder all night, every night. I thought I’d just stay in bed; it was probably just the pressure from the baby. But something said… “No, get up & go to the bathroom.” So I stood up and when I did, my water broke! Good thing I was out of bed!
I went to the bathroom, grabbed a towel, cleaned up the floor and woke Rick up. We discussed whether or not to call Tracy yet since my labor hadn’t started and can take hours or even a day or two to start. We decided to give her a heads up that my water had broken & to be ready for us to call later. She told me to take a shower, relax and go back to bed and we’d meet her at the birth center around 8:00am. At this point I called my sister too & told her she’d need to let her boss know she wasn’t coming in the next day since she was planning on watching the birth.
I started shaking then… adrenaline had kicked in, this was labor! I hopped in the shower to relax and see if I could get some sleep before I started getting contractions and having to work. While I was in the shower, Rick was chastising me for not packing a bag to take to the birth center. I had a whole long To-Do list for the last couple weeks. Packing a bag was at the top, and everything below it had been crossed off. I just thought that I’d go past my due date, so I didn’t hurry to pack it. Oops.
My shower was relaxing, and I enjoyed it, thinking I might not get another for a while. As I relaxed, I started feeling a few contractions. They kind of hurt but weren’t terrible. I started to feel like they were getting close together so I asked Rick to time them, but he wouldn’t because he figured that I was being paranoid. I got out of the shower and it took me a long time to dry off. I felt like my contractions were getting closer and closer… three minutes here, two minutes there, every minute?? Am I timing this right?
Around 1:15 or 1:30am I laid down to try to rest. OUCH! Ok, now these are contractions. I couldn’t lie down. They hurt too much. I was freaking out. Rick realized I was getting scared, so he immediately stopped packing and starting helping me relax through my contractions. The first two were the worst, but then we got the hang of it. He grabbed his watch. A minute long, and two minutes apart. That’s a minute-long muscle contraction, and a minute to relax before the next one. The contractions hurt, but if I just relaxed my body like we practiced and breathed through them, they were easily managed.
Poor Rick would sit with me through each contraction, then run off somewhere to continue packing. As soon as I felt the next one coming, I’d holler for him, and he drop what ever he had and run back to coach me through it. Funny how unbalanced those minutes are. The contraction minute seemed double and the relaxing minute seemed half. But the watch proved they were the same. I couldn’t imagine doing this without Rick and without the information and techniques we learned in our Bradley classes. It is so amazing how much being relaxed and informed versus being afraid affects the pain and stress of labor.
This kept up through the whole night. I know you’d think that the night would drag on if you’re literally counting every minute, but it really flew by. All the sudden we looked up and it was 5:00am! Rick called Tracy again and told her how I was doing. She was already at the birth center, and told us to come as soon as we wanted. This took another 45 minutes, even though we can see the birth center from our house.
At the birth center, the room you have your baby in looks like a bedroom… like a bed and breakfast with a birth tub and a birthing ball. There was a rocking chair, beautiful bed, a dresser. Homey. Calm. We arrived and Tracy started me on antibiotics for strep B. As soon as I got them, she took out the IV, knowing how much I hate them. Rick called my sister and told her we were at the birth center.
Tracy left me and Rick alone so I could relax and focus on each contraction. If I had to describe a contraction, I’d say it’s most like that cramp that you sometimes get in your calf muscle… the one that can wake you from a sound sleep. It’s like that only in your core (since your uterus is not in your leg). It feels like what it is… a big bag of muscles tightening and staying tight for a whole minute. Then they relax. And for me, when I think about it like that, they weren’t so bad. Nothing like what I imagined, or like what other women made them out to be. Hurt? Yes. Like the worst pain ever? No. The worst it ever got was like maybe a 7 or 8 out of ten. Getting my appendix out was worse.
I labored until about 9:45am. I tried all kinds of positions. I tried the labor ball. I got in the tub for two contractions, but I didn’t like feeling like I had nothing to ground me. I preferred sitting indian style on the bed or on the ball. I hated the contractions that came in the bathroom (Tracy made me go every half hour or so). I was drinking water and Naked Juice that my sister brought me. Tracy checked the baby’s heart tones every once in a while.
Around 9:45 I felt the urge to push. It is what they say, an intense urge to push! Tracy checked my cervix and said that I was at about nine and a half centimeters. She didn’t want me to push yet because if I irritated the cervix, it could swell up and make labor take longer. She had me wait through a few contractions to try to get that “lip” of the cervix to move out of the way. That is the hardest thing… not pushing when your body is telling you to push. She had me lay on my side. She had me stand up and lean on Rick. She had me sit on the birthing stool (it’s like a u-shaped seat on legs, low to the ground). This was the only time I got whiney… every contraction I was begging Tracy to let me push. Not pushing was painful.
Finally she said I could start pushing. It was such a relief. Pushing felt good! Hard to do, but very good! While I was pushing, Tracy was in the catcher’s position; Rick was next to me, encouraging me, reminding me to relax my forehead. Yvette, the midwife -in-training was monitoring the baby’s heart tones. Tracy noticed his heart rate was dropping to the fifties when I pushed and only coming back up to the eighties in between. Normal is 120-160 bpm. She was calm, so Rick was calm. Therefore, I stayed calm.
She had me get on my hands & knees to see if that helped the baby. No luck. She told me that we were going to transfer to the hospital incase the baby needed help when it was born. There was a nurse in the hall way on the phone yelling and getting worked up. Tracy yelled at her to be quiet and leave. I stayed calm, because Tracy & Rick were calm. I figured I wouldn’t panic until they did. Tracy said she could see the baby’s head. I didn’t realize it at the time, but she actually pushed the baby back up into me then.
The ambulance came and Tracy gave me a shot of terbutaline in the arm to suspend my contractions for the ride. She rode with me, and Rick rode upfront. My sister grabbed our stuff and followed in her car. I didn’t say anything the whole way (it’s only three blocks), except when Tracy or an EMT asked me questions. It was very surreal, and a little scary. I felt that if I stayed perfectly still, I could stay calm.
By the time I was in the labor and delivery room at the hospital, my contractions were back in full force. The people at the hospital were NOT calm. I focused on Rick and Tracy. The hospital nurses wanted to put in an internal fetal monitor (the one with a little screw). I did not want that! Rick and my sister spoke up too. Tracy told me to stay calm and let them. The baby’s heart rate was too slow, and they couldn’t tell it apart from mine.
Now I could hear the baby’s heart beat on a speaker in the room. Kind of reassuring, kind of not. When ever I pushed, it stopped completely. Then it came back when I didn’t push. This motivated me to push harder than I ever would have otherwise, so I could get the baby out ASAP. A doctor named Hall sat down at the end of the bed. I knew his name; he was a back up doctor for Dr. Anselmi. At this point I realized my birth plan, written for just such an occasion, was in a bag that was who knows where. Dr. Hall had a vacuum extractor in his hand. NO! I did not want him to use the vacuum, and I did NOT want an episiotomy! My sister told him that I didn’t want that. He got angry and said it was this or a c-section and there was no time to discuss it. He was concerned that the baby was not getting enough oxygen. I looked at Rick and Tracy. Tracy said to trust her, and that it was necessary for the baby. OK.
So he gave me an episiotomy, which I felt, but it didn’t hurt, and Tracy told me to push like never before. Two big pushes and the baby was out! Someone said, it’s a boy, and I looked at Rick. “Did they just say it’s a boy?” I asked. I think everyone had convinced us we were having a girl. We were so surprised!
Henry came out red and screaming… a good thing. He had enough oxygen and his heart was fine. 11:01am. Labor was just 10 hours total, including an ambulance ride down the street. Dr. Hall stitched me up. They got me up to go to the bathroom, and when I came out, Dr. Anselmi was there checking out Henry. Hooray!
It was a good day. Not perfect. Not totally intervention free, though Tracy and Rick assure me the interventions were necessary for Henry. But drug free. Totally. I’d do it again if it weren’t for the nine months before it!
Click here to read Emmett’s Birth Story.
Click here to read Cora’s Birth Story.