Reflections on Labor and Birth Part 1: My Story
I went into labor at 3:00 a.m. on a Thursday morning. I woke up to contractions, which were about an hour apart. They were mild, felt much like period cramps, and so I stayed in bed and didn’t alert anyone.
The next morning, I told my honey that I thought I was in labor, but the contractions were so far apart that I wasn’t sure if this would really be it, or if it was “false labor” as they call it.
I didn’t go anywhere that day. I made a joke that if this was really labor then it was nothing and I didn’t know what the big deal was. I told him it was fine if he left for work.
Soon enough, I was on all fours, moaning. The contractions were random. 14 minutes apart. 7 minutes apart. One right after the other.
Throughout my pregnancy I asked, over and over, How do I know when to go?
Everyone said, You’ll know.
My midwife said, “I’ll hear it in your voice.”
I’d heard so many times that too many women arrive early, that I think I wanted to ensure that I didn’t go until I knew I was in labor for sure, and far along.
I labored all day and through the night. I let my honey sleep, as I wanted him to rest, for who knew how long this would take?
I was up every few minutes, off and on all night, breathing through these surges and getting in different positions.
By Friday, I knew this was labor. I asked Ryan to stay home from work. I had contractions all day long. I could still move around, walk, get things done around the house.
When a contraction would start, I’d tap him, say: It’s starting. He’d hold my hand. I’d close my eyes and breathe.
Sometimes I had to move, change positions, moan and have him push my hips.
By ten that night, I was in the tub, seeking pain relief, beginning to transition, vomiting, and going very internal.
I’d imagined a romantic birth. Orgasmic birth. I figured I’d make out with my sweetie during the labor. There’d be essential oils, nice music, candlelight.
In reality, being deep in labor felt a lot like being sick. Have you ever had a bad stomach virus or the flu?
By Friday night I was telling him to leave me alone and, don’t touch me.
I remember at one point he came in with his coat on. I looked at him with confusion. Did he think we were going somewhere?
In my mind, it wasn’t time and the last thing I wanted was to get in a car.
He asked me to call the midwife. Finally, I gave in and agreed.
She said I could come in, or I could slip under the covers and rest. So, that’s what I did. I figured if she wasn’t saying, get your butt in here, then I had time.
I went to bed. Ryan joined soon after. From about 11:00 p.m. until 1:50 in the morning, I labored in bed.
I was never asleep. I remember feeling painful back labor. Breathing through it. Being so uncomfortable. So much pain and my review here explains everything in detail.
Between contractions I’d get some rest, but during contractions I’d jump up, head to the bathroom. Writhing in discomfort.
The babe was moving so much. All that squeezing on her was making her wiggly. That was the worst part- no pauses, no space of no pain. It was constant uncomfortableness, movement, pressure, and surges.
I kept breathing. I stayed still except for when I couldn’t take it anymore and I’d jump up and go to the bathroom.
Soon, I began to feel the urge to push. I was so tired that I didn’t think clearly. I just kept wanting to rest. I’d think, Okay, I’ll push, and then this will stop and I can go back to bed.
I’d feel an uncontrollable desire to push and head to the bathroom quickly. I actually kept thinking I needed to have a bowel movement. Soon, I was feeling for her head- concerned that I shouldn’t be pushing and wondering, am I fully dilated?
Finally, at 1:55 I called my midwife. I said, Renee, I‘m sorry to bother you, but I feel like I have to push. She said, “Come in.”
I got off the phone. Slipped on my shoes and jacket and woke Ryan up. I could barely walk. Somehow I made it down my front stairs.
I got to the parking lot of my condo. I squatted there, aside my car, under the night sky. I didn’t know how I was going to make it. The urge to push was so strong, uncontrollable.
I climbed in the car, facing toward the rear, hugging the seat back. Ryan stopped at two red lights. I said, both times, run the lights!
We arrived, Ryan took in our bags. Renee didn’t see me and shut the door. There I was, on the front steps, in the darkness, and for a brief moment, I felt the most alone I’ve ever felt.
On hands and knees, I yelled, “Renee!” She turned, opened the door, and saw me there.
She came, offered her hand, and said, come in.
I don’t think I can make it.
Yes, you can. Come on.
I took a deep breath, gathered my strength, and with a head in my pelvis, I walked into the birth center.
I stripped off my night gown, kicked off my shoes, and sat on the toilet.
I’m going to check you, okay? Said Renee.
You’re fully dilated, and your baby’s crowning.
She pulled out the stool and asked me to have a seat. I squatted on the stool.
I want to get in the tub, I said.
You can’t, I’m sorry. Your baby is coming right now.
I can wait, I said. I want to get in the tub.
She had me reach down to feel that my babe’s head was crowning.
Then, she reached for the doppler to get the babe’s heart rate. She couldn’t hear it. She looked into my eyes with a look of panic.
I need to you lay back on the bed so I can hear the heartbeat.
I sat there. I felt the burning they call the ring of fire.
Ryan pulled me up with his arms under my shoulders and fell back onto the bed, and I on top of him.
Renee looked at me and said, Rachel, push.
I couldn’t. I was frozen. For a moment, I just couldn’t push.
Rachel, I need you to do this for your baby. Push!
I grabbed my left leg with my left arm around the back of my knee, pulled my leg toward my chest, took a deep breath and pushed as hard as I could.
I felt her head come out. Then, the shoulders, and finally, the rest of her body, in a quick woosh much like all the videos I’d seen of birth.
There she was. Upon my chest. Purple. Long fingers and long finger nails.
There was a moment that felt a lot like imprinting, ya know, from the Twilight books?
I looked at her and thought, it’s you, of course.
Ryan said, is it a boy or a girl?
I turned her and saw her perfect little labia and said, she’s a girl. Of course. She’s a girl.
What’s her name? Renee asked, and without hesitation, I said, Sophia.
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This blog is part of a series. To read part 2 click here.