My due date was Sunday January 22nd 2017 and on Thursday January 19th I woke up with a feeling that it may be my last day at work before maternity leave. My mucus plug fell out throughout the day and I was feeling different than I had during the rest of the pregnancy, but I didn’t want to get myself too excited because I knew the mucus plug could indicate birth within anywhere from hours to weeks. I got home from work and went to the gym to get a walk in and try to get the baby moving. Around 8:30 p.m. I had my first contraction. I was able to use breathing techniques to work through the pain. These contractions continued on and off until about 2:30 a.m.
On Friday January 20th I was exhausted from the contractions the night before and decided to take the day off work and spend time walking and relaxing in case the baby decided to make an early appearance. My husband Jason and I walked the mall all day and ran some errands to pass the time. I felt a few mild contractions throughout the day, but nothing compared to what I had felt the night before. I didn’t have much of an appetite, so we snacked a little for dinner, watched TV, and headed to bed. Around 12:30 a.m. on Saturday January 21st I woke up to contractions. These contractions were much more intense than those I felt on Thursday. I couldn’t just breathe through them, I had change positions frequently and needed Jason’s support. These contractions lasted all night and all day. Around 5 p.m. the contractions had become more regular, about 5 to 6 minutes apart and around a minute long. We called the birth center, and the midwife told us to wait until my contractions were 3 minutes apart and lasted at least a minute each. She said I would feel the difference when I was moving into active labor and that this could take a long time, possibly until the next morning. My motherly instinct told me that it would happen faster.
Between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. my contractions changed. I could no longer work through them by simply using breathing techniques and changing positions. I had to make loud, intense sounds from my gut. Jason was amazing. He played calming music, sprayed essential oils, rubbed my back, physically held me up, and encouraged me. I felt an extreme calm, as if I was inside myself. At some point during this time Jason called the birth center again. This time they told him to come in so they could check to see how I was progressing. He packed the car and we headed to the birth center. On the way there I had 5 contractions, and it was only a 15-minute drive.
We arrived and were met by my midwife Deb and our nurses Kendall and Silvia. We settled into our room and Deb came to check on my progress. I was 7cm dilated! I was so incredibly happy. My goal had been to labor at home as long as possible so that when I arrived at the birth center I would be close to transition. With Jason’s support I had done it! Deb encouraged me to sit backwards on the toilet with my head on a pillow for 9 to 10 contractions to get things moving along. This position was extremely intense, but Jason sat with me rubbing my back and giving me juice to keep my energy up. The nurses set up the tub and after my time on the toilet I moved into the water. It felt amazing! Such relief. I spent some time in a squat through contractions with Jason giving me juice, water, and fruit snacks. At some point, I remember saying “This feels different!” and turning onto my back. The nurses came in when they heard this and asked some questions about the pressure I felt in-between contractions. They listened to the baby and left Jason and I alone for some more time. I spent time laboring in a spread eagle position and the sounds coming from me continued to get louder and more intense.
In response to my changes, Deb, Kendall, and Silva came into the room and asked if I felt ready to push. I did! With some advice from them on how to do this, I began pushing. It was like nothing I had ever felt before and in my mind was taking a long time. I had an expectation that the pushing phase would move very quickly, but everyone encouraged me and told me that I was doing great, progressing very well. I trusted them and kept telling myself that I could do this, as millions of women had before me. At some point, Deb told me that my water had not broken yet and if I would like she could break it, but that it wasn’t necessary. If she did so, things would move along a little faster and with more intensity. I remembered that a good friend said she had her water broken and the pain was terrible. I decided I did not want this intervention and continued to push. I was so glad I made this decision, as the water ended up breaking on it’s own. When it broke we all screamed, I thought the baby had come out! It was not that easy, but I knew that my water breaking was a good sign that I would meet my baby soon. I kept pushing and at one point I turned over to push in a squatting position for several contractions, before returning to pushing on my back. I was feeling exhausted at this point, and all of the sudden Jason was looking down and they said they could see the head! Deb told me that using a mirror to see their progress often helps women at this point in labor. I was worried about how I would react, but I decided to give it a try. It helped! Seeing the progress was the encouragement I needed to keep going. Instinctively, I reached down and touched the head at the end of one intense contraction. After seeing me do this, Deb told me that it would help if I guided the baby’s head out. This is not something I thought I would be comfortable with, but I went for it. It burned, but out came the baby’s head. I was so excited and I just wanted to keep pushing to meet my baby, but Deb told me not to push unless I was having a contraction. She needed to check the location of the umbilical cord. She checked and told me the location was good. Then, on the next contraction out popped the body and I caught him! Immediately I brought him to my chest and held him tight. I was crying and kept repeating, “My baby is here. I love you”. There really are no words to describe what I was feeling at this point.
Baby Wiley Gregoire Smith was born at 1:35 am. I immediately held him skin-to-skin as I delivered the placenta. Then, Jason held him skin-to-skin as Kendall and Silva helped me out of the tub and Deb checked to make sure I was recovering well. Wiley never left our arms and we got to spend hours bonding with him. What an incredible experience!
I am so grateful for the support I received from Jason, Deb, Kendall, and Silvia. Jason supported me throughout labor and never let on that he felt nervous. He rubbed my back, responded to my needs, and provided words of encouragement. Deb took a hands-off approach that made me feel safe. If she wasn’t worried, there was no reason for me to be worried. She provided advice and encouragement when I needed it and respected my birth plan. Kendall and Silva provided words of encouragement, were relaxed, and made sure my baby was safe throughout labor. I could not have done it without this incredible group of people.
Story and photographs submitted by Meghan M.