I went to bed about 10:30pm on Sunday March 11th 2007 but didn’t fall asleep until midnight. I woke up at 2am with a really bad back ache. That kept me from being comfortable enough to sleep. The pain went away about 3am, but then I had other aches and pains. That went on for another hour, until about 4am. As I was trying to fall asleep, I felt a pain in my low belly and then it went away. And then a few minutes later it came back – and then it went away. My thought was “I think those are contractions”. I tried to go to sleep, but they were already kind of painful and pretty close together. Not sure how long I laid there (maybe an hour or so) but it was obvious that I wasn’t going to be able to sleep. I got up and went to the bathroom and saw some pink on the tissue. Wow, I know what this means. I think I am in labor!
My husband stirred at this point and I said I was going to go lay on the couch and that I am going to have your son today. He mumbled something and went back to sleep.
I decided to go lay on the couch and listen to my Hypnobabies CDs. I was sure that they would remove the pain, because I was very good about doing all the required stuff for the class. I believed it would work and I would feel no pain. So I started my CDs, turned my lightswitch off, and went into hypnosis waiting for my anesthesia to work (Hypnobabies terms). I was so disappointed when it didn’t work for me – I felt a lot of pain. My contractions started out about 5 minutes apart. I always thought labor would start more gradually – 20 minutes apart, then 15, then 10, etc. Not for me. No rest for me.
I called the birthing center about 9:15am or so to give them a heads up. Our midwife said I didn’t need to start timing the contractions quite yet. She also said it sounds like you might have a baby today or tomorrow.
The Birth Center
I laid on the couch for awhile, not sure how long. Just deep breathing and trying to relax and not tense up (which I can thank Hypnobabies for). I got pretty anxious about how I would handle the day without my anesthesia (Hypnobabies) like I had planned. I sent a frantic email to the Hypnobabies lady asking what I could do. In Hypnobabies, it’s all about positive words, thoughts, etc. So we use the terms birthing time instead of labor, pressure waves instead of contractions, and comfort level instead of pain. In my email to her, I said I did my course very well and used “birthing time”, but then proceeded to say “contraction” and “pain”. She probably thought – ‘yeah, right you didn’t do the course’. I was crying as I wrote that email. I looked outside and saw Dave putting mulch in the flower beds. That was surreal. I was feeling what I was feeling and he was doing mulch. (I did tell him he should do what he needs to do early on because he might not be able to later).
I then took a shower, taking care to shave my legs really well. 🙂
I tried to eat lunch but just couldn’t stomach it. We then started timing the contractions and noticed they were about 2.5 – 3 minutes apart and 45-65 seconds long. They were getting worse. So I get into the bathroom to do the important stuff – like put on makeup and curl my hair. That took a long time because the contractions were so strong that I would need to really stop what I was doing and put my head into Dave’s palm to focus. Some of the contractions were making me feel really nauseous towards the end. I made myself vomit. I thought that was another sign I was getting close, maybe even in transition.
I called the birth center and was happy to hear that the midwife on call was “our” midwife! So I called her and she said she was coming back from lunch and that we could come in and get checked. She should be there by the time we got there.
It took a long time to get all our stuff gathered. I had already packed my bag, but we needed to get all the bags and food and gear together. The car ride to the birthing center should only take about 10 minutes, but it seemed longer than that. We hit every light we could. Contractions in a moving vehicle are no fun, especially when going over bumps in the road.
We arrived about 3pm and then our midwife checked me between contractions and announced I was “almost 4”. What?? That’s all? I said. She said it was pretty good, those are the hardest ones. She said we could either go home to labor there, or we could walk around the gardens for an hour and she would check me again. We opted to do the latter, as there was no way I was getting in that car again. We walked and walked in that garden. At each contraction, I would hug Dave and lean into him and he would say things like “Relax”, “Peace”, “Release the energy”. It all was really great to hear. I really tried to just relax and not let my body tense up. I think I did that pretty well.
While we were outside, our midwife came out and said she was going to grab her birthing clothes from her car. We came in after the hour and she checked me again. I can’t remember her exact words but I think she said I was a “strong 4” or a “4+”, something like that. She said that was good progress for an hour and we were allowed to stay. This was about 4:15pm. She helped me up the stairs while Dave went to get our stuff out of the car. We didn’t make it very far up the stairs in that time. We got to the room and put our stuff down. She suggested I sit on the birth ball or take a shower. I opted to start on the birth ball. I sat on it and leaned forward onto the bed. I listened to a Hypnobabies CD (can’t remember which one). That was just plain annoying. I sat on the birth ball for about an hour (until about 5:30).
Then I got into the shower. I sat on a chair and held the sprayer to my belly. That felt nice! I sat in there for about a half hour, until 6:15 or so. I put on my shorts and then our midwife suggested I walk around for awhile. I was going to, but then felt tired and said I just wanted to lay down for awhile. That would end up being the last position I was in the rest of the night.
Laboring in the shower
I had mentioned that I wanted to spend transition in the tub to relieve the pain, but she wanted me to be 6-7 cm first.
The contractions started getting worse, and when I mentioned it to her she said they are supposed to. I started feeling kind of grunty with them, not necessarily pushy. And I started to be quite vocal, releasing the energy with low pitched moans and such noises; really primal. That surprised me. Didn’t think I would be so loud. But our midwife and Dave both assured me I wasn’t that loud and that it was normal to vocalize. After awhile of grunty, almost pushy during the contractions, I felt a goosh and said “Uh oh, my water”. My water had just broken! The midwife checked the baby’s heartbeat again, since she said they sometimes get stressed out when the water breaks. But it was still strong (as it had been each time she checked before).
She checked me after my water broke (around 7pm) and said I was at 9cm – to the surprise of all of us! Wow, almost there already! She started filling the tub at that time, saying it takes 30 minutes to fill. She announced that she called the birth assistant and she would be here soon.
She had me roll to my right side then, I can’t remember why. I remember them scooting some pads under me. When she said the tub was ready, I didn’t feel like moving. I said I didn’t want to birth in the water, so I guess I better not move. Oops, I feel bad for the waste of water.
After almost an hour of deep, loud, sounds and breathing down the energy, she checked me again. She said something like “no more cervix” and I asked “10?” and she said “Yes, 10”. This was approximately 8:00pm.
Dave asked if I wanted the “pushing baby out” track from Hypnobabies and I did not!
I was thinking I might have that “rest and be thankful” phase that could happen, but no – contractions kept going. I felt like my body was leading and I was just following along with a bit of pushing to help out. It was so surreal to feel the little bulge when I pushed. It didn’t feel like a baby’s head because it felt small, not big. As the pushes went on, I could feel him coming farther and farther out, and then feel him retracting back in. I remember our midwife pointing out that each time, he retracted less and less. Dave got to look down and see hair on his head. Our midwife asked if I wanted to feel his head. I was a bit scared to, so didn’t say anything. Several minutes later she asked again and I touched his head and said “my baby” – what a wonderful moment!
I kept pushing with the contractions and resting in between. At one point she said to not push so hard, I think he was almost crowning. I think when he was crowning, I felt a bit of stinging and think I wimpered. Our midwife said some words of encouragement, I can’t remember what right now. I do remember her saying that with the next push our baby would be born. I pushed and then the head came out. Then another push and I felt the body just slide right out. He’s here!
She placed him on my belly and I just started crying, almost hysterically I was so overjoyed. I can’t remember what I said exactly. He was just so beautiful! I looked over at Dave and saw tears on his face. I couldn’t believe how clean he was – no blood or guck on him at all (G, not Dave).
They placed warm towels on him and gently dried him off. He was wailing really loud! Good baby!
Father and son
When the cord stopped pulsing, Dave cut it. There was a small section where he was allowed to cut. G was right on my belly when they did this. They weighed him and announced 8 lbs 0.5 oz – bigger than they thought he would be.
I did not think I would birth in a side-lying position (I always thought I wanted gravity to help me out). But it was easy! Our midwife said it might help first time moms to not tear. And I didn’t, which is great!
My throat was sore for about a day and a half afterwards, from all my “vocalizing”.
Our midwife, me, and G shortly before heading home (~1:30am)
Having a natural childbirth was tough, but absolutely worth it to me. I would do it again in a heartbeat. I loved how great I felt immediately afterwards. I loved birthing in a birth center and the care of a midwife. It was the perfect atmosphere for all of us and I am so grateful for this amazing experience.
New family, right before we left the birth center
Even though I felt pain during labor and birth, I credit my Hypnobabies training for helping me to remain calm and accept the contractions. I think this is what helped my labor proceed fairly quickly for a first-time mom. I recommend it to anyone who is considering a natural birth. To order or learn more, click here.