My Birth Story
Christopher was due on September 14, but he had other plans. I woke up at 4:30 a.m. on August 25 with what felt like intermittent cramps in my extreme lower back. After lying there for a while and pondering the possibilities, I got up to check the pregnancy books and determine whether I was experiencing prelabor contractions (which can happen days or weeks before labor) or the real deal. Alex woke up a little later to find me pacing the living room and downing massive amounts of water to see if that would relieve the discomfort. Nope.
More pacing, a hot bath, breakfast, and a half hour of contraction-timing later, I started making the phone calls: my doula, the birth center, my mom. It was definitely not time to go anywhere yet, but since nothing was alleviating the contractions, I was more and more convinced that I was in labor. I puttered around the house that day, did a little laundry, and otherwise tried to take it easy. The contractions got more uncomfortable and made getting a nap impossible. I talked to my midwife late that afternoon and described the contractions, and she told me to get on my knees and lean over some pillows to encourage Christopher to turn, because it sounded like back labor (baby facing he wrong way & putting pressure on the tailbone). Fun.
After leaning over an exercise ball through Wheel of Fortune & Jeopardy (nice distractions), the midwife called and told me to come on in and she'd check my cervix. Turns out I was dilated 4 centimeters at that point, so we settled in at the birth center for the night. I need a completely separate post to extol the virtues of the birth center, my midwife (Jill), and my doula (Tiffany), but one huge plus was being allowed to eat during labor. We'd picked up Zaxby's on the way, and I also downed a huge jug of Gatorade over the course of the night.
I'd read that women often lose sense of time during labor, and I did. The discomfort I'd been in all day got more and more intense, and I walked laps through the halls, leaned over a ball, etc., but the contractions weren't getting any closer together, and I couldn't seem to dilate beyond 7 cm. Jill wanted to break my water to move things along since I seemed to be stuck, and she said I could get in the birthing tub afterwards. I had been excited about using the tub since it seemed like it would be so much more comfortable.
Thing is, the contractions got very intense and very painful after my water was broken. I'm sure I was not a pretty sight. If Jill hadn't checked and told me that she could feel Christopher 's head, I was ready to sell my soul for some pain meds. If I'd known how much longer it would actually be, I would have definitely begged for them. Sometime in the tub, I started pushing during the contractions. Someone would give me a spoon of honey occasionally to help me keep my energy up, and I'm told that I got a little second wind with that. I had gone through Hypnobirthing training with Tiffany, and though I was nowhere near as tranquil as the women in the videos I'd watched, I tried to just go inside myself during the contractions, focus on the fact that they were bringing Christopher closer to me, and, not use any negative self-talk (the hardest part of it all, I think).
Things get a little fuzzy in my mind...the nurse helped me to the bathroom since I hadn't peed lately (remember all that Gatorade?), and I couldn't go. Nothing would happen. Jill had me lie on the bed for a while to push, and she twisted up a bed sheet, held one the end, and had me pull on the other end through the contractions while I pushed and Tiffany and Alex held my feet so that I would have something to bear down against. Apparently the top of Christopher 's head kept crowning, then slipping back in when I stopped pushing. His head was cocked slightly, which was a big part of the hold-up. He was also putting pressure on my ureter, which is why I couldn't pee, but my full bladder was in his way. Jill finally said they'd have to cath me.
I never thought I'd say this about a catheter, but that was the best thong to ever happen to me. I was in too much pain to even feel it, and maybe two contractions later, Christopher was born. Once his head was out, his body just slid out, and it was a feeling of physical relief I've never felt anything like in my life. Jill and the nurse immediately suctioned his nose and put him on my chest with some blankets, and here's the amazing thing: he didn't cry. He wiggled, he grunted, he looked around, he held onto my finger for dear life, but apparently he had nothing to cry about. That alone makes me so glad that I had a natural birth in a quiet, peaceful setting with minimal interventions, and though it was the most difficult thing I've ever done, I'd do it the same way again.