Having convinced myself that my baby would arrive the weekend after its due date, I had taken a Monday off from work about 10 days before in order to get last minute baby stuff done. Early that day I ran some errands, started a load of baby clothes and ate lunch.
Around 2 pm, I felt a contraction that started in my back, then kind of spread to my lower abdomen. I hadn’t felt a contraction like that during my pregnancy, so it caught my attention, and when a couple more followed, I decided to time them. They were coming about 5-7 minutes apart, and 20-30 seconds long. After timing about 6 contractions, I decided to forget about them, and continue getting things ready for the baby. I noticed I was becoming really sensitive to smells, and ended up rewashing the load of clothes I had started earlier, because I thought they smelled funny. As the afternoon went on, the contractions weren’t going away, so I laid down and listened to a relaxation CD, hoping I’d be able to fall asleep. Instead I was becoming increasingly distracted, so I got up and continued rewashing the funny smelling baby clothes a total of five times.
At about 5 pm, I decided to time the contractions again, and they were coming about 4-6 minutes apart and 35-45 seconds long. When my husband arrived home a short while later, I blurted out to him I was having contractions all afternoon, and the baby might be deciding to arrive a little early. So we ate some dinner, and took the dog for a walk and talked about what we should pack in our suitcase in case this was the real deal. When we got home, the contractions were starting to intensify, so I broke out the big blue exercise ball, and started doing hip circles during the contractions. For about an hour, I would roll the ball with me from room to room and sit on it during contractions as I started to pack our bag and put away baby clothes. Next I took a shower, and as the contractions became more painful, I would let the water run on my back, which helped quite a bit.
I decided to time the contractions again around 8:45, and they were now quite intense and coming about 2-4 minutes apart, 45 seconds long. The time between contractions was relatively pain free, so I tried to keep focusing on those breaks. Thinking the tub might help, I filled it up, and tried pouring water over my belly for a contraction. This did nothing; so I went to get on my hands and knees when I heard a plop, gush sound. I figured my water had just broke, and indeed this was really labor, so I told my hubby I was going to call the midwife. I talked to her around 10 pm, and said I wanted to stay home as long as possible since I wanted to try a drug free birth. She said that was fine, but I had already had three painful sounding contractions while talking to her, and if my water had broke, it’d be a good idea to head in. I decided to try and stick it out a little longer, and ended up enlisting the help of my hubby to rub my back as I was on my hands and knees, or standing and swaying with my head on the bed during contractions. At this point I had to moan loudly during contractions, and I found long low moans worked best for distracting myself from the pain, and getting through the most intense parts. A half hour went by, and things seemed to really be picking up. I knew the car ride was going to be miserable, and it’d probably be a good idea to get it over with before things really got intense, so we decided to head in. The shorts I had been wearing were now soaked from my water breaking, and I remember having a really hard time focusing enough to find anther pair to wear. I finally found a bright blue pair with white stripes down the sides, that combined with the red tank and dog chewed flip flops I was wearing, made for a colorful outfit. I was beyond caring at that point though, so we grabbed the suitcase and headed out. On the way to the hospital, I rolled my window all the way down, and moaned loudly as I gripped the dashboard. When we were at stoplights, I did wonder what people thought of the crazy moaning lady in the car.
We arrived at the hospital around 11 pm, and I had to stop and moan through a contraction in the car, then another one outside the elevator, then one inside the elevator, then another outside the elevator on the maternity floor. Stumbling to the check in desk, I told them I was in labor, and they informed my I had to fill out a bunch of paper work. A contraction hit, and all I could do was put my head on the desk and moan. They decided to skip the paper work for now, and led me to a birthing room. I immediately got on all fours on the bed, and hung my head over the headboard, which was raised. They let me stay in the position as they hooked my up to the fetal monitor for the initial reading. A short while later, the midwife arrived and checked my cervix. She said I was dilated to 9 1/2 centimeters, and that the last 1/2 centimeter might have been due to my position, so when I felt the urge to push to go ahead. The contractions were extremely intense, and I just remember focusing on some lettering on the headboard as I moaned super loud. My husband was also continuing to rub my lower back, which was really helpful. The midwife then said she had to check on another patient, but when she got back, “we’d be having a baby!”
When she came back, I still hadn’t had the urge to push, so she suggested we try the shower. When I got out of the bed, I had to put my head on the edge and moan and sway through another contraction. Then I felt this weird flutter in the center of my belly, followed by an overwhelming urge to push. I squatted by the side of the bed for that contraction, and the midwife suggested she set up the bed, so I could squat there. I got back into bed and pushed while squatting through a couple contractions. She then suggested I lay on my side for the final pushes to prevent tearing, so I got on my side, and gripped the edge of the bed as I screamed and moaned and pushed. After about five pushes, I felt a painful burning as the head crowned. I think that was the first moment I felt afraid of the pain, because it was different, and I imagined it being caused by tearing skin. I was so close though, and the midwife had me feel the head, which was all squishy, and that gave me the motivation to keep pushing. I think it was about two more pushes, and the head came out, then with one more the rest of the baby came out, and the relief from pain was immediate. I heard the labor nurse calling the baby a she, but the midwife said, “oh no, it’s a boy”, and when they placed him on my chest it was the most beautiful and wonderful experience of my life. So just after midnight, an hour after we had arrived at the hospital, little Elliott was born. He was small, but healthy at 6 lbs., 19 inches long.
It turns out he came out sunny side up with his fist by his ear, so I tore a little bit and needed a couple of stitches. I was able to keep him on my chest for about 45 minutes before they took him to be cleaned up and weighed, and I didn’t even notice being stitched up. They say you forget about the pain as soon as the baby is born, and while the relief was immediate, it took me about a week to “forget” the pain enough to even think about going through it again. If I have another baby, I will definitely plan for a drug free birth again. The whole experience was very intense, and while it was quite painful, there was something amazing about being in such a focused and immersed state of mind, that ended in something so beautiful. Every contraction was worth it, and I would do it all over in a heartbeat.