This is the story of your birth.
In a way, your story has been five years in the making, beginning with the second night your daddy and I were ever together. That night in my kitchen, while standing in the fading summer light, he said to me, “We’ll want to be married for a while before the babies come.” He was right. The first five years of our life together was exactly what we wanted it to be: all about us. We moved a few times, traveled a little, got married, bought a house together, and talked about having a baby someday. When I knew the time was drawing near to take that thought more seriously, I started doing some research. I was quickly swallowed up by a world that fascinated me to no end–pregnancy and childbirth. I spent two years passionately learning everything I could. I spent more time preparing for your arrival than I did preparing for our wedding! That is something I am very proud of.
I knew I wanted to give you the kindest, gentlest entrance into the world as possible, so I began studying Hypnobabies along with your dad. He was so loving and supportive. We took a six-week class that was held at our house and I studied on my own (and sometimes with your dad) almost every night. We saw midwives at a birth center and were very careful about what kinds of tests and procedures we had done. Our check-ups were always wonderful. Your heart was always very strong and I never had any complications either. With each passing week, our excitement over finally meeting you grew stronger and stronger. We fantasized about having you home with us and never stopped wondering what you looked like. We talked to you all the time, read to you, and listened to music. Even before your birth, you were the center of our world.
Tuesday, June 21st
Around 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning (just one day after your guess date), I woke up feeling like I needed to use the bathroom. For an hour or two, I made about a dozen trips to and from the bathroom with nothing really happening. By about 3:30, your daddy had woken up, and by 4:00 am, I realized I was having some slight pressure waves (contractions). I wondered if my birthing time had begun. I was very calm. I don’t think I believed that it was truly happening. But the pressure waves came and went and were about 10-15 minutes apart. I was also leaking tons of fluid, but it wasn’t my water. Our 40-week appointment was scheduled for that morning so we called the birth center to tell them we thought you might be on your way. While we waited for our appointment time, I bounced on my birth ball and watched a little bit of “Gone With the Wind” while daddy packed up the car. He took some video of me and it was then that we started to get excited at the thought that you might really be coming to meet us!
At the birth center, they got us in right away. After we discussed everything that had been happening, we decided to perform the very first cervical check of my entire pregnancy. I was dilated to a 2 and 80% effaced. I was definitely in early labor! Daddy and I drove home and I immediately got into the tub. I labored there for a while. The warm water felt so nice. Every time a pressure wave came, I’d do my finger drop technique and enter a state of hypnotic relaxation. I let the pressure waves come and go, like ocean waves. I could feel them build, peak, then subside. We did this for hours, timing every one. It was around this time that we noticed how sporadic they were. Sometimes they were 15 minutes apart, then they’d get to 8 minutes apart, then 5, then 3, then they’d space back out to 10-15 minutes apart. Needless to say, this was very frustrating for me.
The time went very quickly and before we knew it, the day was gone. Because my pressure waves kept coming and going, I was never able to rest longer than a few minutes at a time. At 2:00 am, daddy and I took a walk around our neighborhood hoping to speed up my pressure waves. Imagine my frustration when our walk made them completely stop! By the time we got home, they picked back up again. They were definitely getting stronger, but couldn’t seem to space themselves out in a good pattern. I rested as much as a could, rocked on my ball, got back in the tub a few times, and waited for morning.
Wednesday, June 21st
At 9:00am on Wednesday morning, we packed up the car again and headed back to the birth center. I was still losing tons of fluid (still not my water), and my pressure waves were still going strong. The cervical check confirmed I was at a 3. I was disappointed that I had only dilated one centimeter in a day, but I was happy to be making progress. We decided we’d come back at 4:00 and then headed back home for another day of encouraging you into the world.
Again, I was in and out of the tub, lying down, bouncing on my ball, walking around the house, squatting, and doing everything else I could think of to help you come out. By this time, I was getting very tired, as I was never able to truly rest since my birthing time had begun over 24 hours ago.
At 4:00, we went back to the birth center. This time, our doula, Kendra met us there. After another cervical check, I had finally dilated to a 5! I was so excited because I was half way there! After the appointment, Kendra came back to the house with us where she and daddy did acupressure massage on my hands and feet. But it was very difficult for me to lay still for long. The pressure waves were the most intense when I was lying down. After a while, daddy and I decided to pull out my breast pump to see if nipple stimulation might help. I used the pump for about 15 minutes, then decided to continue the stimulation by hand in the tub. By this time, I had probably been in and out of our bathtub at least 10 times over the course of the past day and a half. The stimulation seemed to help and at one point, my pressure waves were 2 minutes apart. But after I got out of the tub, everything tapered off and we were back to pressure waves that were about 8-10 minutes apart.
Throughout this whole time, I was playing Hypnobabies tracks. I listened to almost every single one several times and was able to remain mostly comfortable the entire time. I think it was Wednesday night that the intensity of the pressure waves began to pick up and I began vocalizing through them. I’d “aaahhhh” and “oooohhhh” through them as much as I could. That night, after 48 hours of pressure waves and hardly any sleep, I tried to rest between the waves. I’d lay down for 10 minutes or so and as soon as I felt one coming, I’d get on my hands and knees, hunch over a pillow in bed, and “aaaahhhhh” until it was gone. Around 3:00 am, daddy and I decided to take another walk. During our walk, I had two strong pressure waves. I would wrap my arms around your daddy’s neck and moan into his ear as he held me tight in the darkness.
Thursday, June 23rd
By Thursday morning I was feeling very defeated. I had been laboring for over 48 hours without so much as an aspirin to take the edge off. I was tired and my energy was quickly dwindling. I had zero appetite and had been forcing myself to eat over the past two days so that I wouldn’t run out of steam all-together. Again, we packed up the car and headed to the birth center at 9:00 am. By this time, I had already had several small breakdowns over the past two days and was feeling very emotional. I had pressure waves in the car that were terribly uncomfortable. I began to doubt that I could keep going like this. I was hoping and praying that the midwives would tell me I was dilated to an 8 when we got to the birth center, but upon examination, I was barely a 6. That was when I really let go. I sobbed and sobbed on the table, not understanding what was happening to my body. Why was this taking so long? What was I doing wrong? Why didn’t you want to come out? The midwives asked me what I needed and I told them, “a change of scenery”. I knew going back to the house would just envelop me in a sense of failure…I couldn’t go back there again and keep doing what I was doing, because for whatever reason, it just wasn’t working.
The midwives agreed to let me stay. By 10:00 am, Brent and I were walking around the property, and by 10:30, my pants were soaked; my water had finally broken. I labored outside using a wooden bench in some shade as support. As my labor progressed, I became more and more tired. I decided to try to nap between pressure waves on one of the couches in the waiting room. Every 10 minutes or so, I’d wake up, use my finger drop to get through a pressure wave, then try to go back to sleep.
Around 11:00 or noon, our room was finally clean and we were allowed to go in. I was really excited to see that we got the room we were hoping for. It was the biggest most gorgeous suite they have and had a huge tub I was dying to get into. It took quite a while to fill the tub and once I got in, I didn’t think I’d ever get out. My pressure waves continued to come stronger and stronger but still never spaced out consistently. Again, they were 15 minutes apart, then 10, then 8, then 5, then back up to 10. Kendra and Brent took turns squeezing my hips as they came which was one of the only ways I was finding any relief by this point. Along with the hip squeezes, I began to chant, “peeeeaaaaace” through the waves, which is something I learned in Hypnobabies. We also listened to more Hypnobabies tracks.
As the afternoon drew on, so did my fatigue. Brent, Kendra, and I went outside and did some waddle-walking, where we walked around with our legs spread wide. It was then that I heard another woman in the birth center. She was screaming and hollering like I couldn’t believe. While yes, I’m sure some of it was out of pain, I felt like most of it was out of exertion. Hearing her set a fire inside of me and I suddenly got a second wind. I marched inside and lectured you like I had never lectured anyone before. I told you we were going to do this. We were not leaving the birth center. You were going to come out. I told you I was sick and tired of waiting around and that I wanted you out now. And with that, my pressure waves ripped through me like freight trains and I yelled through all of them. Hearing that woman yell so loud somehow gave me permission to do the same. I yelled and moaned and used all my strength to will you out into the world. I got back in the tub, drank some red wine, listened to more Hypnobabies tracks, and did more waddle walking in our room. I was determined to do this. I was going to get you out one way or another.
By 7:30 that night I asked to be checked again. It should be noted that we were checking your heart rate every 30 minutes since that morning and you were doing wonderfully. No signs of distress at all. I, on the other hand was fading. I was about 63 hours into a natural labor with no more than maybe 5 hours of sleep behind me, plus I had barely been able to eat anything since my birthing time began. Our midwives asked me what I hoped to gain by being checked again and were concerned about my mental state. I agreed to wait a while longer and spent some alone time with your daddy at the suggestion of our birth team.
That time with daddy was one of the most special and memorable parts of being at the birth center. We closed the door, turned on some of our favorite romantic music, and held each other while we slow danced in our birth suite. We kissed, touched each other’s faces, told each other how much we loved each other, and your daddy praised me for being so strong for those past few days. It was truly one of the most romantic moments of my life; trying to use our love to encourage you to be born. My pressure waves picked up pretty strongly by then and it wasn’t too long before I was back in the tub. As another day ended and the night began, I decided we needed to do something. I asked to be checked again.
I laid back and prayed and prayed I had made some progress. Our midwife announced that I was at a 7 but warned she was being very generous in her check. At that point, I knew something had to change. In 14 hours, I had barely dilated one centimeter. I still had 3 to go and I couldn’t stop logic from setting in: if it took me 14 hours to dilate 1 centimeter, how many more hours (or days) would it take for me to dilate to 10? Then, once I made it to 10, I knew I’d still have to push you out. And, I’d have to remain alert and awake for at least a couple of hours after you were born to birth the placenta, feed you, and let our vitals be taken. Plus, my water had been broken for quite some time at this point and I had had two cervical checks since that time which can bring on an infection. Daddy and I told the midwives we needed to talk privately and everyone left the room.
We looked deep into each other’s eyes and talked very seriously about our situation. My water was broken, I’d been laboring for almost three full days, and we knew we still had a long time to go. We both knew what the right choice was. It was time to transfer to the hospital…