I woke up at 5:45am and got up to go to the bathroom. As I stood up, I felt something gush down between my legs. I remember walking to the bathroom, half asleep, feeling confused - did my water just break? Did I pee my pants? I decided that my water had broken, but I couldn’t quite figure out what to do next. Should I wake up my husband or should I wait and let him sleep for a while? After about 15 minutes, I decided to wake him up. “Honey,” I whispered, ” I think my water just broke.” He immediately sat up. “Really? Ok, well, are you having any contractions?” “I think so? Oh wait. Yes. I’m definitely having a contraction.”
And so it all started, the ebb and flow of labor, building in intensity over the next several hours. I sat on my birthing ball in the shower and let the warm water rain down over me for what seems like hours. My husband kept in contact with the midwife, updating her on the intervals and duration of contractions as they started to crescendo. I made a lot of deep, low bellows during each contraction like we practiced in my yoga class. It really helped me focus through each wave and took my mind off of the duration of each spasm. I moved to the couch at one point, swaying and moaning, and imagined diving down into a deep pool of water, swimming down deeper with each contraction. DH sat next to me, rubbing my back and my legs, making me take sips of water and Gatorade so I’d stay hydrated, whispering words of encouragement to me the whole time. He tried to get me to eat a few bites of things, but I wanted nothing to do with food. I kept throwing up (I think we used up all of our towels that morning), but since it was just water and gatorade, it wasn't too bad (well, for me anyway...bless my mom for coming over and cleaning the entire apt and doing all the laundry before we came home from the hospital).
As the contractions reached 4 minutes, the midwife told DH we should start getting ready to go over to the hospital. I sat on the couch while he bustled around getting the hospital bag and anything else we thought we needed to bring with us. All of a sudden, I felt an urge to push. It took me by surprise - I’d never felt anything so urgent before in my life. I sat up and told him he needed to call the car service NOW. We needed to go to the hospital NOW. It was about 11:30am at this point.
He helped me out to the elevator and we slowly made our way through the building lobby and outside. We waited for the car service, which seemed like it was taking an agonizingly long time. I wanted to cry with frustration - all I wanted to do was push. We finally saw a car pull up and we hopped in. The driver realized the situation at once and drove quickly, but smoothly, right to the ER doors. Once we got to the hospital, I had to negotiate a set of stairs into the ER (seriously, how can there be stairs to get into an ER?), then a corridor and an elevator before we got to the Labor and Delivery dept. I sank gratefully into a wheelchair and they brought us into the labor room. I remember laying on the bed, dressed in a hospital gown, lost in my own world as they put in a hep lock on my hand and started the antibiotics I had to have since I’d tested positive for Group B Strep. They asked me if I wanted a resident to check me or if I wanted to wait for my midwife. I don’t remember if I even answered them, but at some point, a female doctor came in and gave me a quick internal exam. It hurt like the dickens. She said something about the baby being right there and me being ready. Luckily, my midwife showed up then and took over. The only thing I wanted in the world right then was to push, but she told me that I needed to let at least one course of the antibiotics go through me first, otherwise the hospital would have to take the baby afterward and give him the antibiotics. The idea of my poor brand new baby getting stuck with needles and forced to take antibiotics right after being born was the only thing that kept me focused on not pushing. She helped me get on my hands and knees, and told me to blow out quick, short breaths every time I felt the need to push. I did this for about 30 minutes - the longest 30 minutes of my life. I remember her putting her hand on my face and telling me I was doing a great job and how smooth and cool her hand felt. I held DH’s hand with all my might and tried to focus on blowing. He fed me ice chips from time to time, always by my side encouraging me. The need to push was so primal, so overwhelming that it was almost impossible not to obey. At some point, I heard her say that it was time, the baby was coming and that we couldn’t wait anymore.
We moved to the birthing stool, which was in front of a recliner. She told me I could take the stupid gown off if I wanted. I stripped off the hospital gown lickety-split and got naked. My husband sat on the recliner, and I sat on the birthing stool and leaned back on him, interlocking my arms with his and holding his hands. She got down on the floor in front of me and put my feet on her thighs. She and DH coached me through the pushing stage, telling me to focus my efforts, to channel my energy to pushing instead of yelling. I don’t know how long it took, but I remember the intensity of it, the sheer Herculean effort of pushing a baby out. She suggested that I reach down and touch the baby’s head, so I could feel how close I was to the end. “I don’t want to touch his head,” I whimpered, but I did it anyway. I remember having some trouble getting past that last stage - I would push but just couldn't manage to sustain the energy to help the baby make that last step. I remember asking in a really normal voice if this was the ring of fire that I'd read about. My midwife laughed and said yep, this is it. "Man, it really hurts!" I told her conversationally. At some point, I remember one final gigantic push and all of a sudden a great whooshing feeling came out of me. I opened my eyes and there was a baby in front of me, covered in white vernix, connected to a slimy looking cord, wailing. She let the cord pulse for a few minutes, and my husband reached out and cut it. They put the baby in my arms, and I leaned back on DH as we looked down at our brand new baby. “Hello, Miles Adam,” I said, leaning in and kissing his wet little face, “I’m your mommy and this is your daddy.”
It was beautiful and amazing, and I'll always remember that day as one of the best in my life. There was a female med student who had asked if she could stay and watch, which I had agreed to (you could have asked me anything at that point and I wouldn't have cared). She thanked me afterward and told me that it was the first non-medicated birth she'd seen and that it was inspiring and gave her a whole new perspective on birth! She was surprised that I was laughing and smiling as soon as it was done, but I felt great. I'm glad we didn't bother getting a doula after all since doulas in NYC can be really expensive and my labor was so short that it was totally manageable on our own. I also love that it ended up being a really private, intimate event between me and my husband. It's funny - all the things I was kind of focused on before the birth - wanting to be able to walk around, to be able to eat, to not wear a hospital gown, etc - none of that mattered once things got going. All I ended up wanting was ice chips and to hold my husband's hand.
Living happily and embracing adventures.
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BTW: It's kinda funny to me that your first paragraph about your water breaking is exactly what happened to me for our first son's birth.
Wanting to push and not being allowed to was the hardest part about my labor, Your body instinctually knows what it needs to do and it's tough having to stop it. I was so glad to finally be allowed to push, until the ring of fire of course
Have fun with your new little bundle.
If anyone is interested, there are some pictures of Miles here - thekidhasarrived.tumblr.com
Beautiful story! Congrats, mama! I'm impressed with your MW and how you were able to birth despite being in a hospital. Yay! So awesome that you were able to influence a med student (and perhaps future mother!), and to do that and still have your intimate experience is *awesome.* Way to go!
HeatherB ~ mama to 3 wonderful boys: 03/02; 09/04; 09/07 - and Eliana, 11/13/10!
Founder of Houston Birth Alternatives: Be Informed, Encouraged, Supported birth support group and aspiring midwife.
Becky, sahm to 25/04/2000 Chloe 12/04/2002 Cameron 19/02/2004 Caitlin 28/06/2005 24/07/2006 and Caden 14/03/2008
19.05.2012 18.08.2012 24.05.2013 25.6.2013 04.09.2014