The day before I went into labor I was checked at the doctors and was not dilated or effaced. Labor looked so far off and I was completely ok with that. I was in no hurry for my daughter to arrive. I knew what unnecessary interventions did with my older daughter and I had no intention of rushing this baby out into the world. Lola, however, had a plan of her own.
The next day, Saturday Dec 1st at 4:00pm, I started having light contractions at Babies R Us. I could see her turning from the posterior position with each contraction the outline of her body changed, it was pretty cool! I took a lap around the store to see if they were consistent. I was timing them at 2 min and 30 seconds. In my mind that seemed too close together and not hard enough to be “real” contractions. I asked my mom to drive us home just in case the pain got worse. They did hurt, but I could still talk easily through them.
When we got home my husband and I decided to go for a walk around our neighborhood. It was so pretty because people had their Christmas lights up already. I was still timing them at 2 min and 30 seconds and they were getting worse. When we got home I chugged a bunch of coconut water and decided to pack my older daughter Ella an overnight bag for the sitter. I texted the sitter and my birth photographer just to give them a heads up to be ready in case these were real. I called my doula and she was concerned that they were 2 minutes apart, she didn’t want me to get exhausted. She told me to hop in the tub and try everything I could to stop them. I had 6 contractions in the tub 2 minutes apart and the water was anything but soothing at this point, I wanted to be up on my feet. I told my husband to go drop my daughter off at the sitter’s. I gave Ella a hug and felt really overcome with emotion because I knew it was the last time I was going to see her as my only baby. I teared up as I watched her walk hand in hand with my husband out the door.
By the time Danny got back my contractions were really painful. I hopped on the yoga ball and decided to make my labor mix on iTunes (I’m a bit of a procrastinator.) After 10 minutes and a few hours worth of music I decided to move the yoga ball out into the living room and turned off all the lights in my house except the Christmas tree. I sat on the yoga ball and leaned my upper body over the couch. The contractions were still at 2 minutes apart and by this point I was unable to talk through them. In between the contractions it was so peaceful, I savored those 2 minute rests and turned my head to look at the Christmas tree. I looked at each ornament and thought of my 3.5 year old, tears started to well up in my eyes, I loved her so much it was such an overwhelming feeling. I felt my belly tighten and knew another contraction was on its way; I felt my body tense up in fear and tried to remember to relax. As the contraction peaked I started to breathe in deeply – I could no longer focus on anything else. My husband set my birth music on my iPad to a timed slideshow of Ella’s photos as a surprise. It was so sweet of him and really comforting during my 2 minute rests.
As I felt another contraction build I told him to call my doula, I didn’t want to labor without her any longer. She was going to meet me at the house so I could labor more at my house before heading to the hospital. I thought that this could possibly be a long labor considering how I was not dilated or effaced the day before and had no contractions previous to today. I moved off the yoga ball onto all fours and with each contraction I started to groan. Was that me? I never thought of myself as yelling during labor, but it hurt so bad it seemed like the only thing I could do. I leaned over the couch and asked over and over “Where is Patti?” (my doula) as if she could save me from the pain. 10 minutes passed by and after a contraction I yelled ” What the hell am I doing here still?! I need to be at a hospital!” My husband grabbed my shoes and my mom started collecting all our bags. They were relieved to hear me say those words. I didn’t know it at the time but my mom had begun to move furniture in case I wasn’t going to make it to the hospital.
My husband slipped on my shoes and covered me in a giant blanket. I stepped outside into the December air, it was bitterly cold. I began to shiver and felt my whole body tense up in an attempt to warm up. It hurt to sit in the car and in between the contractions I was telling my mom to text my birth photographer and call my doula to meet us at the hospital instead. I had no doubt in my mind that this was the real deal. I started to cry, I was so scared. What was I thinking trying to do it naturally this time? What if I hadn’t progressed very far? I told myself I had an easy button, I told myself I wasn’t capable of doing this. I let all sorts of negativity in and allowed it to take control. At this point the pain was so unbearable and I told myself if I hadn’t progressed very far I would get the epidural. I was willing to put myself through the hell of my last birth just to relieve myself of the pain temporarily.
As we pulled up to the emergency room I saw my doula and her apprentice walk up to our car. They helped me out and we started to walk through the doors of the hospital. While my husband was signing all the paper work for me I remember telling everyone I was so tired. Each contraction was still 2 minutes apart and every time I felt one start I would tense up. Patti started to talk me through them. She told me of all the women in the world that were laboring alongside me, some of them without any support. The words put it in perspective – I had 4 lovely individuals who were there for me. I was the lucky one.
After what seemed like an eternity a wheelchair finally arrived to bring me up to labor and delivery. Once up there I was checked by a nurse who said I was at 6 centimeters! In my head I was mad because I wanted that epidural but now that I was so far along it seemed like I should see it through to the end. I turned to Patti and told her I couldn’t do it and that I was so tired. I longed for the 2 minute rests and cringed and resented every contraction. I wanted it to be easy, I knew at this point there was no way out, the baby was coming. Patti suggested that I move to the birthing tub, she said, “let’s see how that feels.”
Once in the warm tub I felt weightless, it was so soothing and a nice change. Everyone’s hands were on me, supporting me. I breathed in peppermint aromatherapy and it reminded me of Christmas, it reminded me of earlier in my labor and how soothing the Christmas tree was. Each breath in of peppermint I was reminded of the peace I felt at home in between those contractions staring at my Christmas tree thinking of Ella my older daughter. Ella… the thought of her made me burst into tears. I told everyone how I missed her and was worried for her. Patti told me to cry through it and that those feelings were real. Someone turned on my birth music and I began to listen to the lyrics in between each contraction.
I felt someone’s hands rubbing my forehead, I felt my husband’s arms around me, I heard my mother telling me how proud she was. All these distractions were getting me through each one. I felt so loved. The pain was getting worse and I remember feeling my contractions start to change from pain to the need to push. I cried out and told Patti I was scared, I told her I didn’t want to do this. I felt a burning sensation and I remember thinking I was tearing. I kept resisting each contraction. I didn’t want it to hurt me. I kept thinking of how I had a episiotomy with my older daughter. I told myself I couldn’t do this. I kept letting the negative thoughts in. Patti looked at me as if sensing what I was thinking and told me “You are not tearing, your body is getting ready to push the baby out. If you feel ready to push start pushing. Listen to your body.” I needed to hear those words.
I went from feeling fear to empowered. I was about to have my baby. With each push I was getting closer to meeting my daughter. The last two pushes I cried out, not in pain but rather as almost a war cry. I felt her head and knew I could push her out with the next one, and I did. As soon as she was out the pain was gone. They placed her on my chest and before I even looked her in the eyes I wept. I was so overcome with love I had never experienced anything like this in my whole life. I looked down at her sweet face, I heard my husband and mom crying. I felt so loved and I felt such love. She was beautiful, she was mine. This experience was mine and I did it, I was so proud, I was so humbled.
I wouldn’t have been able to do it without my support team. I was so empowered by each of them. I will never forget my birth experience and the love I felt that day.
Doula: Patti Ramos
Photographer: Bre Thurston