Wednesday June 22, 2011 I woke up to the disappointing sound of my alarm clock at 5:30. I had been hoping for days to wake up and find myself in labor. At 7am I headed off to work and during the 35 minute commute I had two pressure waves. I considered turning around and going home, but since I had been having practice waves for most of the last trimester I continued on. Immediately on arriving to work my supervisor handed me a sheet of paper informing me that I had been randomly selected for a drug test (this also meant I couldn’t leave until after I’d taken the test). When I went to the test later that morning I wondered how many women in potentially early labor had been subjected to a drug test. (On the plus side, after many months of pregnancy I was a professional at peeing in cups.)
By noon the waves were occurring about every 10 minutes and I texted my husband and my doula, N., to let them know that things might be starting. I should probably have gone home at this point, but my group is scheduled to move to a new building while I am on maternity leave and at 1pm we were going on a tour of the new facilities. I wanted to stay and see if I could scope out any potential pumping locations for my return to work. I also decided the long walk would be a good test of whether this was the real thing.
At 1pm I rode in a coworker’s un-air conditioned mini-van in the 100+ degree Oklahoma heat to the new building. We probably walked over a mile; during this time I continued to have pressure waves but I was no longer able to time them. Ironically the room that I will have an office in sits adjacent to a room which the previous occupants used for a mother’s room. It was still outfitted with couches and comfy chairs and would have been perfect for pumping. Too bad it will soon be just another conference room. One of the young male engineers saw the sign labeled ‘Mother’s Room’ and it was so far outside his worldview that he haltingly read “MOTH ers room?” (Pronouncing it like the flying moth insect). I thought about educating him, but in the end only shook my head and walked away.
[During the tour I had no cellphone reception and didn’t know that Cedric was frantically trying to get a hold of me. ]
Back at the office I continued sitting on the yoga ball at my desk. About 3pm I could no longer sit and rock through the waves and had to stand up and attempt to nonchalantly lean into the ball. At this point I decided it was certainly time for me to go and so I left work about 45 minutes early. I anticipated having 3 waves on the drive home and was very upset when a fourth one snuck up on me. Also-the next time I plan on driving while in labor I’m going to make sure the car is an automatic transmission. Shifting gears was no fun!
When I got home our 2.5 year old, E., was asleep and Cedric had made mango pineapple smoothies. We had been eating a lot of pineapple because it’s delicious and because some people say it helps induce contractions. (Though at this point I don’t think I needed any help.) I called N. and told her I was home and waiting to see if things would intensify. I had another wave while on the phone but was able to talk through it. Afterwards I drank my smoothie and decided to take a warm shower. During the shower I listened to the Hypnobabies Birthing Day Affirmations. The waves were definitely intensifying but now that I was at home I could relax into them. During the shower I try out a low moan/hum and like the powerful way it makes me feel. Afterwards I put my hair up in birthing friendly braids while doing hip sways. Cedric and I talk about dinner options and decide to ask my mom to pick me up some Spicy Basil Stir Fry on her way over to get our son. It takes four phone calls to get a hold of her, but I finally reach her and she says she’s on her way.
Cedric and I go in to cuddle with E.and wake him up. E. is my baby and I am filled with love for him. I wonder how he will be in the big brother role. I decide to go to the bedroom and listen to the Hypnobabies Easy First Stage CD. I have to shut it off midway through because I can’t stand lying down, I want to be up and moving between the waves. During this time Cedric called N. and she said she would grab a bite to eat and then head our way.
It seems to be taking N. and my mom a very long time to arrive. I wonder if perhaps we should have impressed them with a greater sense of urgency.
Cedric and E. come in to the bedroom. I am leaning over the side of the bed and E. gently rubs my back and asks “Are you happy now mommy or are you still sick?” I’m so happy to see him and tell him that. Another wave comes and Cedric rubs my shoulders while E. jumps up and down on my legs and slaps my back in a drum-like fashion. Not the most relaxing, but it does make me laugh. Through the next few waves E. clambers around on the bed and we talk—I don’t know where Cedric is and I wonder how far apart the waves are now.
My mom finally arrives with dinner. She comes in to say hi, but for the majority of the time she is in the room I am having another pressure wave so I don’t say very much. I also try to minimize my vocalizing so as not to freak her out. She tells me she wishes she could do something to help me, but knows she can’t. I know this is one journey that only my own strength will get me through.
Shortly after mom leaves I hear N. arrive. I go into the living room and lean onto the yoga ball during each wave. N. reminds me to relax and tells me ‘Drop your stomach’ , ‘Relax your shoulders’ as she sees me tense up. I ask N. how far apart these are and she says it’s hard to tell because I’m very relaxed.
I try to eat dinner but I have the feeling I will only throw it up later. I focus on eating a few bites of tofu for the protein. We are listening to Donna De Lory, the Lover and the Beloved. I enjoy doing hip circles, figure 8’s and hip sways between the waves. I wonder if our daughter will love to dance as I do—could these energetic labor vibes influence her future self?
During the waves I lean into the yoga ball, sway on my hands and knees, or lean against Cedric’s comforting strength. I alternately snap at Cedric to stop touching me and then moments later ask him to rub my shoulders.
Things are certainly speeding up but I’m still not 100% convinced that this is it. I ask N. if she thinks this is the real thing and she says it probably is because I’ve changed my activity numerous times without stopping the labor.
Cedric asks N. when she thinks we should leave and N. says it is up to me. She does suggest leaving and walking around the hospital grounds if I am worried about being too far away. This idea does not appeal to me at all, but I am getting nervous about the 45 minute car ride. I remember reading somewhere that it can be a good idea to take a warm and relaxing shower before heading out to the car. Cedric clears out all the bath toys littering the bathtub floor and I step into the hot water. The next wave hits me with surprising force and I find myself growling and moaning like a lioness as I lean into the wall. The shower was no help so I dry off and go back to the living room exclaiming that the shower didn’t slow things down at all. Another wave quickly rises over me and brings me to my hands and knees. I hear the sounds I am making and they are different from before and this feels different. When it finishes I say, “Ok, we’re leaving now” and N. says she was just about to suggest that.
Cedric has already packed the car but grabs last minute items like my water bottle and purse. I kneel backwards over the passenger seat and don’t let him leave until the next wave finishes. I have no idea how I am going to handle this car ride.
I listen to the Birth Day Affirmations on my MP3 player and keep my eyes closed during most of the car ride. Occasionally I open them to look at the bright evening sunlight and marvel at the strange juxtaposition of being only feet away from truckers, families driving to dinner, and evening commuters while I am preparing to birth our daughter.
The Hypnobabies course uses the term ‘pressure wave’ to avoid the negative connotations associated with ‘contraction’. That wordage seems particularly accurate during this car ride. I feel like a surfer rising and falling with each crest. Focusing on the affirmations playing in my ears helps me to stay focused and keeps the waves from pulling me under.
Cedric navigates to the exit off the interstate and begins to say, “Umm, honey…” which I know means he doesn’t know how to get to the parking garage. At the same moment I know I have to vomit and manage to tell him to wave N. around as I proceed to puke out the window a few times. N's little blue smart car pulls in front of us and Cedric follows her to the parking garage.
We park next to N. and she has some wet wipes I use to wipe my face and arm off. Cedric grabs the backpack we packed with labor supplies and starts to hand me my purse. I adamantly tell him, “No, you’re carrying that.” Luckily N. knows the way through the maze of elevators and hospital corridors otherwise Cedric would have been lost and I was in no shape to handle a flustered husband. After throwing up I am shaky and feel like I am in some otherworldly plane. I’m curious about how the public presence of strangers might affect me—apparently not at all as I continue to lean into Cedric with the waves and moan and groan unabashedly through them. A stray thought crosses my mind that at this point I would have no problem walking naked through these hallways.
There is nobody at the check-in station. I don’t know how long we wait for a receptionist. It seems like forever. I hang onto the edge of the counter and squat down to sway back and forth. Somebody eventually shows up and N. says something about being here in labor. They must have given her a funny look or something because I hear or say “Oh, not me”. The only part of the pregnant lady they can see are my fingertips.
We finally get ushered into triage where I use the bathroom and lose my mucous plug. Someone asks if I want blood drawn or a saline lock and I tell them no. I have been worried about a fight over getting/not getting the hep lock throughout this pregnancy and am surprised that it is so easy to refuse. I have to lay on my back for a vaginal exam and I hear the nurse say “8 with a bulging bag”. I am relieved to be so far already and know the hardest work is still ahead.
Things move very quickly after this. I manage to stay pretty relaxed and during each wave N. is there ready to lock eyes with me. Seeing her calm confidence helps me to know that this labor is proceeding as it should even as overpowering as things become.
A nurse offers me a wheel chair to ride to Labor and Delivery. Since there is absolutely no way on earth I could sit down I refuse and we walk slowly through the hallways.
LABOR AND DELIVERY ROOM
Once in the room I immediately get up on the bed and lean into the yoga ball that the hospital provides. People keep coming in to ask silly questions and fill out paperwork. At this point I’m barely capable of comprehending questions, much less answering them. (We end up filling out some of the admittance paperwork after our daughter is born.) Our nurse, Lisa, introduces herself and tells us that she has had four children at home so she knows that it is not always fun. I’m very glad to hear that we have a nurse who is not only supportive of the natural childbirth we hope to have, but has done it herself! I hear someone ask what station I am at and the response given is that I am dilated 8 cm and am possibly at -2 station—but the triage nurse didn’t check too closely for fear of bursting the waters.
Throughout this time I have continued listening to the Birth Day Affirmations, but now that I am hooked up to the external fetal monitor the additional wires for the mp3 player are too much and I tear it off. Lisa says that the midwife can break my bag of waters to speed things up. Since my waters broke on their own with my son this is something I hadn’t spent much time considering. It is remarkably difficult to make any decisions when I am in this state. I finally decide that by the time the midwife gets here I will be ready for her to break the waters.
N. helps raise the bed so I can lean over the back of it. She also pulls a barf bag from somewhere and I retch into it a few times but there’s not much left in my stomach to come up. I experiment with a few different positions and end up in a modified squat that I had learned in my prenatal yoga class. This position immediately makes me feel slightly pushy and N. says that is a good position for me.
The midwife, D., shows up fairly quickly. I had met her for the first time earlier that week. She and Lisa talk about how I had just missed L., the midwife who I had seen for most of my prenatal visits and who had delivered my first child. Months earlier I had decided that I didn’t like L.’s alarmist attitude and had been secretly hoping to have another midwife at the birth. It looks like my baby has good timing! D. scrubs up in preparation to break my waters when L. calls on the phone. D. doesn’t want to answer it but L. is insistent. D. briefly talks while the nurse holds the phone and I am very annoyed with L. because what does she think she is going to do over the phone?
[8:55 pm: The nurse, Lisa is watching the fetal monitor and says “The baby is looking fabulous”]
Finally D. comes over to the bed and I don’t feel anything when she breaks the bag of waters except for a warm gush. I quickly get back on my hands and knees at the foot of the bed. The intensity of the next wave takes my breath away, and I moan out “Oh God!”. I wasn’t prepared for how much different this would feel without the cushioning of the waters. I have a brief flashback to a Star Trek episode where a baby was simply transported out of the mother’s womb. Thoughts like that aren’t very helpful so I push it out of my head. When the next wave comes I hear myself saying “I am going to poop!” and somebody tells me that is my baby.
I need to hold onto something so I return to the head of the bed and sort of squat hanging from the back. The midwife never asks me to adjust my position and never tells me to start pushing. I don’t need to be told because at this point my body takes over. I had intentions of slowly breathing my baby out to hopefully avoid the 3rd degree tear I had with my son 2.5 years earlier. But once I started feeling the strong urge to push there was no way for me to slow down. My body took over and I was just along for the ride. During the next push or two I find myself trying to climb up the back of the bed as if I could escape the feelings in my body. N. tells me “Don’t run away from it. That’s your baby.” The only way out of this is through it and the next time I focus on pushing through the wave instead of trying to escape it. The feelings were so intense that I thought surely the head was out by now—the lack of reaction from anyone else tells me this isn’t the case. At the next push it feels like there is a many-limbed octopus squeezing through my birth canal. Suddenly the baby is out and my first thought is “It’s over!”
Then I turned around and saw Inara lying on the bed. After some complicated seeming maneuvers, I manage to sit down and hold her in my arms. She is perfect! She is so clean with hardly any vernix and no blood. Her deep eyes are alert. Our daughter is here!
D. said she had her hand up by her face during the birth and this probably contributed to the 2nd degree tear I received. I also eventually received a shot of Pitocin due to excessive bleeding. Receiving one shot in the thigh was far preferable to getting the Pit through an IV line would have been. I was still very glad I refused the hep-lock.
I am so happy with this birth. Every step of the way I felt I received the support I needed and none of the interferences I wished to avoid. I feel blessed to have shared this healing and empowering journey with my daughter.
Inara, we are so glad you are here!
June 22, 2011, 9:12 pm
8 lbs, 2 oz
19 ¾ inches
Lovin my SAHD DH and 2 kiddos
So cute!!!! Congrats Mom!
I just found out that I am being risked out of a homebirth, reading your story really makes me feel that natural birth in the hospital is possible (had 1 horrible hospital birth, 1 lovely homebirth). Enjoy that beautiful baby and hope your tear heals quickly!
Former WIC Peer Breastfeeding Counselor (2005-2011) now SAHM to DD (8/2003), DD (8/2008 ), mate to since 07/2000. Expecting Baby Roo Mid July 2011!
I gave birth to my son in this same hospital using the same group of midwives and I felt like it was a pretty bad experience. This time I expected less of the hospital staff, expected more of myself, and brought my own support team in the form of my doula and my wonderful DH. Also, I was probably only in the L&D room for 30 minutes or so before she was born, so there wasn't time for many things to be done to me. =) But after this experience I may give birth in the hospital again (I was planning on saving up enough money for the out of pocket expense of a homebirth for next time). I hope your hospital experience goes equally well!
Oh--and the 2nd degree tear healed up almost immediately. In comparison to the third degree one from last time where I couldn't roll over or sit up in bed for weeks without pain I hardly even noticed any discomfort this time!
Lovin my SAHD DH and 2 kiddos
Congratulations! What a lovely birth. I relate to several things in your story- my early labor also started at work, I threw up a LOT, and my DH also did not know where to park and how to get to L&D! I'm so glad this birth was what you had hoped for.
Mom to 2 Daughters born in 2010 & 2012, and someone new Nov 2015