My husband and I had been through two early pregnancy losses before we found out I was expecting again. The early days of my pregnancy were full of fear and living with Hyperemesis Gravidarum, which meant weeks of endless nausea, vomiting, dehydration, IV treatments and needle pokes from a Zofran pump. Around 16 weeks that subsided, and at 20 weeks we found out we were expecting a healthy baby boy!
I was 40+2 when I went into labor. I started having painful contractions, 10 minutes apart, for the better part of the evening on Tuesday, October 1st. Around midnight they calmed down enough that I was able to get a little sleep, and made sure my husband did as well. On Wednesday morning I was still contracting so we sent our 2.5 year old daughter, Adalyn, to my parents house. It was so hard to have her leave but she doesn’t handle seeing me in pain very well. We went on a walk around our neighborhood in the misty morning. It was nice to walk with my husband through the irregular contractions and to get some fresh air. We went home and ate, hoping to keep our energy up, and I managed to get another nap. It was like my body knew I would need the rest.
I had a regular appointment with my OBGYN that afternoon and couldn’t sit still! We went to lunch, paid our rent, and sat in a coffee shop until it was time to go. Once we got to the office and had my cervix checked we discovered that I was 6cm dilated! My OB did a stretch and sweep but the baby was still very high. He offered to put me on the schedule for induction the next day and I declined. Not only was I hoping to have a baby before then, but I wanted a med-free delivery.
We went to walk a trail we liked that was near the hospital and my contractions became more regular and more intense. I had to stop and hold onto my husband as I rode the waves. I would take deep breaths in and out like I was blowing out birthday candles. When I blew out I was blowing the pressure away (I was trying not to think of the contractions as pain, but rather as pressure). After a half an hour we decided to head home. I had a hard time sitting still and started pacing the apartment, calling my husband to come be with me when I needed him, and otherwise wanting to move around freely. He encouraged me to eat and drink to keep my energy up. As the contractions grew stronger and longer I decided to call my doula (Meagan, another BWF admin) and mom to come be with us as we headed to the hospital. My OBGYN had warned that he may come quickly so I was antsy about being at home.
Once we got to the hospital they checked me in and I was measuring 7cm. They quickly admitted me to a room and went over my birth plan. I had to have two IVs placed because of my history of post partum hemorrhage, but I was OK with that. We also planned to receive Pitocin after delivery for the same reason. Otherwise my rather detailed birth plan was accepted.
I started walking again with my husband and doula there for support. I got in the bath when we got back and the hot water felt amazing; it let my muscles relax in between contractions. I began to feel more vocal as time went on and felt more pressure in my bottom which made me hopeful that things were picking up.
It was around this time that things get fuzzy for me, all the events and time blend together. I hit 8cm (and transition) and stayed there for a few hours. I became very vocal during my contractions and had a hard time breathing through them. I started to doubt my decision to not receive pain relief but my support team kept me going! Another trip to the tub had me howling in agony and throwing up. The nurse asked to check me, and I was still at 8cm. Everyone kept saying he would be coming soon- I didn’t believe them anymore. I begged my husband to make it stop and he held strong. He knew what I wanted and knew that I could do it, even when I didn’t believe it myself. He kept telling me that I was doing amazing and he was so proud and impressed with me; but I felt weak against the pressure from the contractions. I kept thinking “My contractions cannot be stronger than me because they are me” in my head. I remembered talking about that quote just earlier that week.
I lost all self restraint during contractions and was practically screaming through them (I was later told they could hear me in the halls). My doula reminded me of our friend’s birth and and how she used the Katy Perry song “Roar” to roar through her intense labor and the song started playing in my head. I found myself making loud, guttural, roars instead of screams. They felt so much better, like they were helping me progress instead of just expressing my pain.
The nurse had suggested I use a ball shaped like a giant peanut to help position my pelvis to allow the baby to descend- he was still high and my water hadn’t broken but was bulging. I was 8cm still at this point and desperately miserable. I could see my mom wincing every time I shouted. She told me later how hard it was to watch me be in so much pain. Being positioned on the peanut ball was excruciating, I couldn’t see straight and was howling in agony. I wanted to push it away and jump up but I could feel it working. I cried out that I couldn’t do it anymore and my nurse grabbed my face and said “You have to do it, so concentrate and breathe! Moan from deep inside your belly!” It sounds bad, but she couldn’t have gotten through to me by being gentle.
After several contractions I felt an intense desire to push. My nurse and a resident working with my OB were present, and they said I was complete but had a lip and couldn’t push or I would risk tearing my cervix. I was practically crying the desire was so strong. I couldn’t think straight but I stopped myself from pushing.
It only took a few more contractions before I was ready to push. The nurse kept urging the resident to get ready to deliver and to get my OB, but no one seemed to be moving as urgently as she wanted them to. They asked me to push to see if the baby would move down and he was! My contractions started stacking on top of each other and I couldn’t hold myself up to push. My mom came and wrapped her arms around me and held me up while I pushed my baby out. It was such a powerful moment for me to have her so present and giving me strength when I felt like I had none. It is a moment I will never forget.
I felt his head begin to crown and my motivation grew. I gave a huge push and my water burst as I birthed my baby’s head. I think the resident was shocked how fast he came, she kept wanting to gown up but it was too late (she only managed to get one glove on!). One more push and my baby was born! It happened so fast (12 minutes) that I was in shock and my mom told me to look! He was crying and they put him on my chest but it took me a minute to realize he was here, my baby.
I had spent my entire pregnancy afraid I would lose him, so much that I couldn’t imagine this moment as being possible; I couldn’t let myself believe my baby would come home with me. Then he was here and my world was suddenly complete. It was so surreal. The first thing I thought was that he looked just like his sister. I was so happy my rainbow baby was finally here.
My husband was so present and supportive throughout the whole thing. I can’t imagine how hard it was for him to have me be in so much pain and not be able to do anything about it. He was right by my side, along with my mom and my doula, telling me that I was amazing and I could do it.
Logan was born 10/3/13 at 12:51am after 27 hours of labor and 12 minutes of pushing. He weighed 9lbs, 6oz and was 21.75″ long!
All photography courtesy of Blooming Roots Birth Doula and Photography. Copyright Blooming Roots Birth Doula and Photography, do not use without permission.