I awoke Monday morning and rolled out of bed to begin our day. As I sat up, I noticed that my formerly "dropped" child sat high in my abdomen putting much pressure on my lungs and stomach. I laughed to myself as I imagined weeks of pregnancy getting winded moving from room to room and living with constant heartburn. I knew my child would come on his or her birthday and not a moment before.
The next day I attended a local birth meeting. It was so calming and relaxing being around people who respected nature and her perfect design for birth. I soaked in the good vibes and smiled inside. After the meeting, I overheard an overdue mother talking about her baby trying to engage but not finding the right position. I felt a new wave of serenity as I realized that my child had the wisdom to back up and get into a perfect birthing position. I had faith that my baby knew how to be born.
Friday I went to my midwife appointment. I hadn't had any indications of impending labor and felt content with the notion of staying pregnant for a few more weeks. Imagine my surprise when I saw some birth show as I gave my urine sample. My midwife gave me the option of being checked and then reminded me that I could still have a long time to go. I went home and called my husband, best friend "L" and doula "D". Then I called work and told them I was going to start my maternity leave. "I don't plan on being pregnant by the time the weekend is over."
That evening I went walking with L and my 2 ½ year old daughter. We went to a local strip mall, snacked on jelly beans and remembered hanging out there in high school. By the time we headed home, I could tell that the baby was lower and I was having a few contractions.
Saturday L invited us to Jungle Jim's for the afternoon. During the drive I noticed that I was having contractions every 10 minutes. I didn't want to alarm L's husband so I waited until we arrived and he had left to park the car before telling her. I knew I had a way to go, and walking around a huge store was just the thing I needed to make sure the baby was in a good position. L dropped us off at home a few hours later. I knew that I might not have the chance to take belly pictures again, so I set up the tripod and took a picture of my bare tummy with "39 1/7" printed in black washable marker. My husband got home late and went to sleep soon after. About 1:00 am I got an overwhelming craving for Steak n Shake
. We never eat fast food, but nothing at home would do. So I drove out there. As I waited for my food, I smiled knowing that I was indeed in early labor and the kid behind the counter had no idea. After I got home and ate my late dinner I crawled into bed. For the first time in weeks, I slept through the night.
I woke up at 9:30 am Sunday morning. My husband and I spent some time together. I noticed that the contractions were 5 - 7 minutes apart. I felt giddy knowing that the rest of the world had no idea that I was bringing our child into the world very soon. I fell in love with my husband all over again that morning.
My husband decided to make us some lunch while I took a shower with our daughter. I needed to shave my legs and scrub the 39 off my belly. I listened to some soothing music as I prepare myself for the work ahead. After the shower I put on my labor clothes ( a black tank top and green maternity skirt ) and my birthing bead necklaces from my Due Date Club and my MotherBlessing. I braided my hair and looked in the mirror. I was ready.
After eating my husband's potatoes with eggs and slices of pineapple we decided we should start timing contractions. It was around 2:30pm. I felt the need to finish my affirmation flags to hang up in the birthing center. So I settled in at the end of the couch with my sewing supplies. When a contraction would hit, I would let my husband know and then close my eyes and breathe deeply. I imagined opening up like a rose. The contractions never hurt, but they did require my attention. If one got particularly intense, I would rotate my hips and remind myself to surrender to the process. Sewing my affirmation flags was the perfect thing to do in active labor. I read the kind words written to me and soaked in their love and wisdom.
By 3:00 pm I had 9 contractions. My husband asked if we should start calling people. I told him we still had a long way to go because I wasn't even in pain yet. He called his family anyway. Soon after my contractions spaced out to 7-10 minutes apart. My husband wanted to take a nap since I insisted that we had a long night ahead of us. So he and our daughter snuggled up to rest and I got online. At 4:14pm I posted in my Due Date Club
complaining about the contractions slowing down and resolving to take a shower
to see if that would help.
I created a nest in the bathroom. I lit some incense, dimmed the lights and turned on some Secret Garden. As soon as I stepped into the shower I had 2 intense contractions during the same song. "What am I doing?" I thought, "I could be in a hospital bed right now with an epidural reading a magazine. Wait, was that me doubting myself? I must be in transition! Wait, if I'm in transition we need to get moving if we're going to the hospital." I stepped out of the shower long enough to call to my husband. I told him to get up, get everything together and page the midwife and birth center. Then I got back in the shower to relax myself again.
I got out and redressed in my labor apparel. I braided my hair again. I went to the living room, knelt down on the floor and layed on the seat of our recliner. As a contraction would come, I started to vocalize through it and sway my hips. I repeated my affirmations in my mind: "Surrender." "Every cell in my body knows how to give birth." "The contractions cannot be stronger than be, because they ARE me." "Open."
The midwife called back and my husband tried to give me the phone in the middle of a contraction. I slapped his hand back and held up my finger until the contaction was over. She told us to come in, and made sure we had paged the birth center nurse. Between contractions I told my husband to call our doulas. It was a little after 5:00 pm. He called D, but she didn't answer. He asked me if she should leave a message and I shouted, "No, just call A!" A few minutes later D arrived and knelt down next to me. She felt my tailbone and then offered to help us get ready to go. The birth center nurse called back and said there was no one there so we may have to go to regular Labor and Delivery for a while. D called A and told her to meet us there, and then went to get my daughter dressed. My husband started taking things to the car. I waited for a contraction to end, and then called L. I quickly told her that we were going to the hospital, and that things were progressing.
In between contractions I made sure we had everything we would need. My husband took our daughter to the car and D helped me out the door. I turned just before we left and said, "I'm forgetting something." D reassured me that whatever it was, someone could get it for me once we got there. I realized later that night that I had forgotten my daughter's diaper bag, and all of her diapers.
The ride to the hospital was uncomfortable. Sitting was not working, and I had to vocalize louder. I began to feel pressure, but ignored it. I just concentrated on the wave of each contraction as it hit and then subsided.
We arrived at the hospital and my husband found a parking spot right next to the elevators. He was getting nervous and was having trouble backing up into the space. Cars started to line up behind us, and finally one of them honked their horn. I rolled down the window and had a few choice words. After we parked, I got out and leaned against the car during contractions. After my husband unloaded the car he made some comment about me hurrying. I hit him with the water bottle in my hand, which broke and splashed water on our daughter. For some reason, it struck us both as funny and we had a good laugh as I waddled over to the elevators.
The contractions were getting closer together. As one would begin, I found it impossible to walk. We still had a ways to go to get to the maternity building. We came to a crossroads: we could either walk around the parking garage or go down a set of stairs that exited to the walkway. I looked at those stairs with pure dread thinking to myself that I didn't need to encourage my baby any lower. I had 2 contractions getting down the steps, but pushed myself to move as quickly as possible. Once outside A spotted us and came out to help. She walked next to me as I slowly made my way inside and to the elevators. On the elevator, I had a long powerful contraction. I was leaning against the rail and couldn't move although I wanted to since the door was dinging. We started to make our way to the birthing center with me heading over to lean against the wall when a contraction would come. D went ahead and came back with the news that there weren't enough nurses in the birthing center. She said another one would be there by 7:00pm. A looked at her watch and said that was only 45 minutes away. I knew that we didn't have 45 minutes. We turned around and headed back to Labor and Delivery to get a room.
At this point things get really fuzzy for me. Conversations were happening around me, but they sounded like they were far away. I was leaning against the wall next to the nurses station going through a contraction when I felt the baby move lower and had an urge to push. "Not yet, baby. Not yet." I whispered. I guess I started to look pale, because A exclaimed that I was going to pass out and I was guided into Labor Triage. D and A helped me out of my robe. I hadn't realized how much I was sweating until it came off and I felt the cool air dance across my damp skin. A stood next to me and put pressure on my hips. It felt amazing and relieved some of the pressure.
I got the general impression that the nurses didn't want to waste a room on us if I wasn't really close to having a baby. They wanted me to lay on the bed and submit to a vaginal exam. A communicated this to me, and I simply said "I can't lay down." She asked if I would allow them to check me standing up. I didn't want them to touch me, but I also wanted a room, so I agreed. The nurse still wanted me to lay down, and she wanted everyone except one person to leave. Thankfully D stood her ground and asked them to give us a room instead. I drifted in and out of their conversation. I felt safe knowing that my husband, A and D would protect me. I felt supported and loved.
Suddenly my body wasn't satisfied with the urge to push being ignored. My body started to push on it's own. I announced to the room that I was pushing, and was helped onto the bed. I knelt on it facing the back and hanging on to the head. A and D helped me out of my panties and the nurse returned. She said, "Well now I HAVE to check her." Her touch was painful, and unwanted. I started to cry. Someone started rubbing my shoulders and I regained my composure and started repeating my affirmations in my mind. The nurse said that it was "just" my bag of waters. My body contracted again, pushed and my water broke. I guess I finally earned my room because a sheet was thrown over me and I was wheeled down the hall.
I arrived in the middle of a contraction. After it subsided, D asked me if I wanted to give birth on my hands and knees. I was having trouble talking, but I nodded. Another contraction started. The nurse wanted me to step out of my skirt and move over to the other bed. I waited for the contraction to end, and quickly stepped out of my skirt and over to the bed. I got a glance at Dr. W who would be the delivery doctor since my midwife wasn't there yet.
My body started to push for all it was worth, and I began to worry. I didn't want to push too hard. About the same time a nurse pushed a monitor into my stomach. D leaned over and whispered into my ear, "Listen to your body." I was so thankful for her. I began to repeat that in my head over and over. My body knew how to give birth. If this was what my body was doing, it must be right.
D put a cold washcloth on my neck and offered me water. A asked if I wanted my daughter in the room and then went to get her. My husband set up the camcorder and then asked the doctor if he could still "catch" even though we weren't in the birthing center. The doctor agreed and handed my husband a pair of gloves.
Pushing was intense. I felt my bones shift to accomodate my baby. I felt my baby twist and turn and wriggle. I surrendered to the process and allowed my body to birth my baby.
A, L and my daughter arrived back just after the head emerged. My body took a small break and then pushed out the shoulders. I felt the baby kick to get out. It felt like the baby was being pulled out of me, but was really just gliding out. Instant relief rushed over me.
My husband announced, "It's a boy! Yuri!" I had forgotten in all the excitement of birth that I was going to find out the gender today. I turned over and reached for my baby. My husband handed my son to me. "We did it!" I exclaimed over and over. I heard A say, "No, YOU did it!" I was victorious! My body DID know what it was doing. I surrendered, I opened, I gave birth. My body accomodated the birth of a 9 pound baby boy without a tear. He was born at 6:35 pm, only 20 minutes after arriving at the hospital.To be featured in the upcoming book Birth Expressions