“It’s a beautiful day to be born” Ross said as we were pulling out of the driveway at 6:00 am. “The sun is rising, and the sky is clear and blue.” I was 5 days overdue, and had woken up at 2:30 am with contractions. I labored in bed quietly until 4:00 am, wanting to let Ross sleep as much as possible, because I knew we were going to have a long day ahead of us. I leaned over and woke Ross up – I was at the point now where I was going to need some help laboring.
After extensive research and discussion, I knew I wanted to have a natural, unmedicated birth. Ross and I took a 12 week course in “The Bradley Method”, where we learned techniques to deal with the discomfort of labor. We also chose to hire a doula to help give us the best chance of having the birth experience we wanted.
Ross woke up, and I told him “I think I’m in labor”. After praying for us, he suggested I take a shower, to see if the contractions went away. If they did, it was false labor. If they didn’t, it was the real deal. I took a shower, and while the water was so soothing on my back contractions, they kept progressing. Ross was timing things, as we were supposed to go to the hospital when contractions were 5 minutes apart. We were at 7 minutes, and I suggested he call the doula to come help us labor at home. Ross sent the doula a text, and she was on her way. A couple minutes later, I started vomiting, and my contractions spaced to 2 minutes apart. While a normal occurrence in labor, Ross recognized it as a sign of transition, which usually means the baby is coming any second. The hospital is a 30 minute drive from our house. Ross texted the doula 2 minutes after his first text to her, saying “meet us at the hospital”.
I had 15 contractions in the car ride to the hospital. Ross turned on some soothing Christian music for me, and applied counter pressure to my hips with one hand and drove with the other. Our doula met us at the entrance, and pushed me in a wheelchair to get checked in while Ross parked the car. I was checked, and was 4.5cm dilated. Ashers heart rate was on the low side, so I had to be monitored for a little longer than usual. My contractions were getting intense – Ross was talking to me and encouraging me to relax tense muscles, and the doula was grinding her fist into my low back. It was the most welcome relief to have her do that!
I requested to get in the tub, as laboring in water can provide very effective pain management. It had been 40 minutes, and I had gone from 4.5cm to 8cm. The doula kindly said to me “You can get in the tub… but you’ll have to get out”. The hospital I was at didn’t allow delivery in water. The idea of getting out of the tub once I was in it sounded so awful, that I decided to stay in bed. I started vomiting more, and had violent shakes. “Is this normal!?” I asked. I knew it was, but needed reassurance. “Yes, you are in transition” the doula told me. I must have been in serious denial, because I shot back “I am not in transition!”.
It took nearly 3 hours for me to progress from 8cm to 10cm. Ross comforted me the entire time, massaging tense muscles, reminding me it was all pain with a purpose, and advocating for my wishes with the birth team. My doula kept encouraging me to let my body relax, take cleansing breaths, and opened up the scent of peppermint oil to help with nausea.
Once I was 10cm and ready to push, things got very fuzzy for me in terms of memory. Asher’s heart rate dropped dangerously low during the pushing, and the nurse threw an oxygen mask on me. A surgical team was called in the room, and an anesthesiologist introduced herself. The doctor told me she was about to perform an emergency c-section, but she’d give me one more set of contractions to see if Asher improved. The doula and nurse went into overdrive mode, had me change positions, and did some intense coaching. “Breath for Asher” the doula told me. Asher’s heart tones went back up, and the doctor excused the surgical team.
After a little less than an hour, at 12:16pm, Asher was born. 8 lbs 5 oz and 21.25 inches. It was fast, startling, and amazing. I got to hold him and love on my sweet baby, and stare in awe at what I had made. Shortly after he was born, I had to be taken into surgery for a complication that happened during his delivery. Being away from my baby right after he was born was easily the most difficult part of labor and delivery. I was gone for an hour, but Ross got to bond with and have quality time with his son.
Overall, I am so thankful for the experience I had. It was challenging, and one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done in my life, but the empowerment I left the hospital with is irreplaceable.