I probably have 45 minutes to write this before it’s time to feed the little man. (HA, 16 hours later I am finishing this…) So, let me try to gather my mama mind for a second and we will get started.
I am not going to write that apologetic line that is supposed to go here that reads something like “If you aren’t into birth stories, then stop here!” Because the world needs to hear more happy birth stories. If you are one of those who really don’t want to hear it, then I am sure you are smart enough to click away after seeing the title of this post.
But for those of you that are still here, this is how it went down:
I had the day off work on Friday, and used it for nesting, nesting, and nesting. I was experiencing an energy surge that started up sometime on Thursday. I have heard of this energy as being a sign of oncoming labor, but didn’t recognize it at the time. I still had two weeks to go after all.
Besides nesting, I had a prenatal massage on Friday. It was extremely relaxing, and she didn’t do anything with accupressure points that one might think would send me into labor. She just set me at ease. I came home, finished the nursery, photographed and blogged it, then got ready for bed.
As I write this, I am realizing how many years ago last Friday seems. It’s unreal. Anyway…
I turned the last lamp out in the living room and as I walked down the hallway toward the bedroom, I felt a small gush, like I had peed myself. I was so irritated by this. I thought that on top of all the other uncomfortable things about the last weeks of pregnancy, I was going to have to wear adult diapers now. UGH.
It was 11 p.m., and I spent the next few hours trying to figure out what was going on with my bladder. For those of you who have only experienced birth through the wonderful world of Hollywood: When your water breaks, it usually doesn’t happen at a fancy restaurant filled with people, and there is not necessarily a huge puddle of water to make it obvious. So, I was not 100% sure that it was broken until about 3 a.m.
I hadn’t woken up Justin yet. I was just hanging out on my yoga ball in the living room with a towel and some wiser-than-I moms on Twitter. I am not sure why they were all up at the same time, but they had the joy of beholding my water break via the internet. How lucky.
I crept back into the bedroom and quietly informed Justin that I was possibly in early labor. He kind of believed me, and we both went out to the living room and hung out. We had some snacks, played on the internet, watched tv and haphazardly tried to time contractions. We were excited, but didn’t want to get our hopes up in case it wasn’t the real deal.
I’d been having cramps since 36 weeks and I was 38 weeks exactly when my water broke. The constant cramps I had been having for two weeks never really went away. Some of them just started to peak in the early hours of Saturday morning. But it was really hard to time the contractions since they weren’t well-defined, and there was no clear rest in between them.
We had taken a 6-week natural child birthing class, hired a doula, and were in the mindset that I was going to be in labor for many hours, and we wanted to spend most of those in the comfort of our own home. We were trying to avoid interventions if possible, and one of the best ways to do that is to wait until you are in good active labor before going to the hospital. If you can show up to triage at 7cm, you are in great shape for a natural birth that won’t mess with the hospital’s strict guidelines for how long you should be in labor. So that was our original goal. I figured we would head over sometime the following night.
I emailed the doulas around the same time I woke up Justin, and told them that I would call them in the morning if things got interesting. I did call them around 6 a.m. because that marks the hour that I was quite sure I was in labor. The contractions were obvious, and I was needing to concentrate to get through them. I laid on the couch and listened to a couple of songs on the birth mix that I made. I sat on the yoga ball and swayed my hips around. I closed my eyes and tried to find a happy place.
The doula told me that it sounded like I was definitely in early labor, but since I hadn’t gotten any sleep the night before, I was supposed to take a warm bath to try and slow down the contractions so I could rest in between them. I was supposed to call her back in a few hours with any updates. Then she would head over to help support me when things got more serious.
So the bath? It didn’t really slow anything down. They actually were so intense during the bath that I had to start doing some kind of low humming/vocalization to get through them. Justin headed out to the store to get some supplies and coconut water for me, and I was alone for a bit.
I got out of the bath and I don’t really remember what I did after that. But within an hour, at 7 a.m., the other doula called, and Justin had to talk to her on the phone instead of me. She listened to me on speaker through a contraction and we decided it was time she headed to our house. She would be there in 45 min. 15 minutes later, Justin called her and told her to meet us in triage instead.
I just remember thinking that I was in early labor, and if it was things were that intense now, that I just couldn’t imagine getting into a car hours from then and making the trip downtown. I started to have some self-doubt as Justin rushed around to get the car ready. The elevator ride downstairs was a contraction. Pulling into the road was another contraction. The first pothole of hundreds began another. They were so close and so intense. I breathed and hummed through them while strapped into my seatbelt. This was the toughest part of the labor.
Lakeshore drive was clear of traffic, since we were on the road just after 8 in the morning on a Saturday. The sun was shining, and I was focused. I have to admit that my confidence about being able give birth at all, much less naturally was wavering. I didn’t realize that I was in transition at this point, and these feelings are common in this stage. It would have been helpful to know that I had already done most of the work. I was in the mindset that things were going to get MUCH more difficult.
I just mentioned that going into transition on Lakeshore Drive was the most difficult part. But then I forgot that I had to WALK INTO TRIAGE and answer some questions and be weighed and hooked up to some crap. That was the worst. The nurses there are used to sending people back home because a lot of the time they come in the second they feel a contraction and are barely dilated enough to stay. So their attitude towards me was kind of like “yeah right.” When they found a second between contractions to check me, they could see the baby’s head. I was at 9.5 cm.
9.5 cm! This was the most wonderful thing I could have heard at that moment. Then my doula walked in. Also an awesome moment. I went from having self-doubt and anxiety about labor getting exponentially more difficult, to feeling really proud that I had made it that far. I knew that the contractions I was feeling every minute or two were already as strong as they were going to get. And I was getting through them on my own!
Then I closed my eyes.
From that point on I was only vaguely aware of my surroundings. I opened them again and was in the Labor and Delivery room. I opened them again my midwife was there. I opened them to get into the water tub that eventually showed up. Time was like jello. All I knew was Jen, my doula was on the left of me, and Justin was on my right. They said the right things, held my hand, massaged me and offered invaluable support. There was never a hollywood moment of screaming rage where I want to kill my husband. It was quite the opposite. Justin was awesome.
I knew when a contraction was about to begin and I worked through it with rhythmic breathing that I hadn’t practiced before. My body knew what to do, and my mind was no longer in charge. My mind’s only job was to stay quiet and give everything up to a part of me that I didn’t know existed.
At some point, after getting out of the labor tub and back into the bed, I spoke one of the only words I had said since I arrived at the hospital.
They had asked me earlier if I felt the urge, and I couldn’t tell. I felt pressure, but didn’t know if that meant I was supposed to push. But then all of the sudden I just knew. Or my body just knew. There was really no question that it was the only thing on earth I wanted to do. So, push I did.
I was intimidated by this final stage of labor before I actually reached it. But when it arrived, I found it to be the best part. While contractions are waves you just have to get through, with pushing you can actually do something. It felt right, and I would hit a point during the push when the others in the room would say THERE! Hold that RIGHT THERE. And I could tell it was working. I knew the spot I was supposed to get to, and what a productive push felt like. They say I was pushing for two hours, with each contraction, but I couldn’t have told you if it was a half-hour vs 10 hours. I was really only aware of the present moment.
My mind did pop in to say, “Hey there, I REALLY don’t understand how this baby is actually going to come out. You are sure that actually happens? I just don’t see how that is possible.” My body told it to go back to time-out and do something else.
Then they told me to reach down and feel my baby’s head. I was told that my midwife was getting her delivery gear on. I am so grateful that was communicated to me, because now I felt like the end (beginning?) was near, and I could set loose my last reserves of strength. A sprint to the finish with energy you didn’t even expect to have at the end of a race.
One more contraction and my baby crowned. (Major burning then numbness for those of you who haven’t felt this). I waited for the next contraction and gave it one last final go. The next thing I know he was on my chest. I HAD A BABY.
Benton James Boley was born at 12:28pm on Saturday the 10th. He weighed 7lbs 4oz and was 22inches long.( I haven’t had a chance to go through my real pictures yet, so here are some blurry iPhone shots from his first couple days. )
We are in love.
He was very alert for the next couple hours. And since he was born without any problems, I got to hold him skin-to-skin for most of the time, even as the midwife stitched me up. I won’t try to articulate what I was feeling at that point, but I hope you have held or will hold your own new baby on your chest at some point. Then you will know.
Before the labor started, I knew that I wanted a natural birth. This is very different from truly knowing that I was capable of such a thing. Because honestly? I wasn’t so sure I had it in me. All I knew for sure was that I had the power to at least try for it. That was all. When it was over, I still couldn’t believe I had done it. It eventually sank in, and I felt extremely lucky that everything went smoothly. Not everyone gets to actually go through with their birth plan. Things happen that are out of our control. But like I said, I was lucky. And now I feel like I can do anything. This is important for me as a new mom.
My baby is healthy, and my recovery has been going well. The endorphins and hormones that my body released on its own were an amazing elixir created by me just for me. I feel so good about the experience, and will likely do it again, (and again?). I can see now why people like homebirths, because UGH–that car ride. But maybe I will head over to triage a bit earlier next time, since I can now understand what my body is doing, and what stage of labor I am actually in.
Now we are in the midst of the 4th trimester. Much more to come on this I’m sure, but right now I just need to rest, eat, and feed my baby. It has been wonderful so far, although somehow against the odds, I have a slightly skinny baby. Who knew? This is stressing me out when I should just be hanging out with him and enjoying the early weeks when he is so new. But he needs to gain some weight, so please send fat baby thoughts my way.
Thanks for reading.