My January 6th due date came and went with no sign of baby. I was okay for the first five days past my due date, but once that sixth day hit, I began to get really discouraged. I was so negative and in a foul mood every day. I remember checking into the YMCA nine days past my due date and having the following encounter with the receptionist there:
“Aw, look how sweet your son is! How old is he?”
Me: *proudly* “He’s 17 months old. He’s a sweetie.”
“And when is baby due?”
“She was due nine days ago.”
“Oh honey, you need to leave. The Y doesn’t deliver babies!”
Me: *smiling* I will kill you.
…If that tells you anything about my mindset. I was becoming so impatient, so tired of being pregnant. I didn’t want to talk about the baby to anyone. I didn’t want to be asked questions or answer “Any updates??” texts from family. I just wanted to crawl into a dark hole and wait it out alone, away from others.
The midwives at our hospital had a copy of my birth plan; they knew I’d hired a doula for this birth and that I was trying to have a natural birth experience. They were so completely supportive of everything; those women were truly God-sent. They never pushed induction on me, but were happy to let me keep going on my own. My daughter was passing all of her stress tests with flying colors and there was no cause for concern. I had to sign a waiver at some point saying that I was aware of the risks of carrying past 41 weeks and that I was choosing not to be induced. And that was it.
It became a waiting game.
I began trying everything I could to naturally induce at home. In my mind, I’d already accepted the fact that I was going to be pregnant at the 42 week mark. I even texted my doula the night before labor began with an update, saying that I’d be back in touch with her after my 42-week appointment J Haha.
41 weeks 4 days: I woke up at 3:30 in the morning to use the bathroom, went back to bed and had a contraction.
I didn’t pay much attention to it because I’d begun every day like this for the past week. Sometimes I’d have contractions for three or four hours only to have them fade away in the end. So, I no longer let them get my hopes up. I let the contraction pass and went back to sleep. This pattern kept going: contraction-sleep-contraction-sleep…until, finally, I decided to start timing them to see if there was a pattern. They were coming about 7 minutes apart. I could talk and walk through them, they weren’t really so bad. So I just decided to stay in bed until I couldn’t anymore.
At some point, my husband noticed I was breathing through them and asked if I was okay. I told him I’d been having them for an hour or so and that I didn’t want him to get his hopes up. I told him to go back to sleep, I’d wake him if I needed him.
Another hour passed and they became closer together and a bit stronger. I woke my husband and said that I thought I was in labor. He got up and started packing the rest of our bag and jumped in the shower. All the while, I’m still sitting in bed saying “I don’t know if this is it. They might fade. Don’t get excited.” I decided that if this was labor, I’d better eat. So I had a pb&j sandwich, a banana and two huge glasses of orange juice. I got out of bed and started walking around.
It was 5:30 in the morning. I’d been contracting for two hours, still able to talk and breathe through them. I spent the next hour walking around the house, cleaning, laying on the couch, taking a shower, doing things here and there. The contractions were coming about 5-6 minutes apart, but were manageable.
I called my sister to ask her to please come (it’s almost an hour drive for her). I texted our doula with updates on the contractions; I told her I’d let her know when we need her.
My sister arrived about 40 minutes later. My contractions were getting more intense. I began to not want to talk to anyone during them. I didn’t want to be touched or bothered during them. A contraction would come and I’d start counting to five in my head over and over until it passed. “One-two-three-four-five. One-two-three-four-five…One..”. I remember at one point, I was moving from the living room to the bedroom and a contraction hit. I grabbed the door and hugged it until it stopped. I texted our doula and asked if she could come over. I was afraid of arriving at the hospital too early and needed her to let us know when she thought it best we leave.
While we waited for Elisa (our doula) to come, Jason and I went outside and walked in the yard. We talked in between contractions. Whenever one would hit, I’d grab his hands, go into a half squat and breathe through it. Then we’d continue walking. At some point during our walk, it hit me that I was really in labor and we needed to get to the hospital fast. Once this thought came into my head, I began to panic.
“Jason, we need to be leaving. Where is Elisa? We should go. I think we’ve waited too long. We need to leave.”
Our hospital is a 45 minute drive, and I was concerned about traffic on a Tuesday morning. Jason reassured me that we’d leave soon.
Elisa arrived at 8:30. My contractions were 4-5 minutes apart. She helped Jason grab our bags and made sure I had snacks and water to get through labor.
I got in our truck and my husband said “Is there any way you can buckle up for this?”. Um, no. That was not happening. I had a handful of contractions on the way to the hospital- with each one, I’d have to stand up in the truck. One leg on the seat, one leg on the floor, my butt to the window, and breathe through it. Every bump we went over was a hellish nightmare. The counting method stopped working in the car. I replaced it with verbal affirmations: “It’s okay. I’m okay. I’m okay. I’m okay.” With the falling of the contraction, I’d sit down in the seat, eat a handful of almonds, and stick my head near the window to feel the cold breeze coming in.
I felt so relieved when we finally made it there. It was sometime between 9:30 and 10. We went to the front desk, and the receptionist asked a bunch of questions, being patient with me whenever a contraction would hit. She kept apologizing “I know you hurt, honey. I’m sorry I have to ask all this. We’ll get you in a room ASAP.”
They eventually took us to triage. I remember walking there and, having looked at us, a nurse in the hallway called out: “FRESH MEAT!” and that was the last time I laughed for the next four hours. The midwives hooked me up to a monitor, and asked if I wanted to be checked before going to the room. I did, but I was so scared I wasn’t going to be far along (like my last birth!)…I expected the worst. The midwife checked me and said “You’re 4-5 cm dilated, 90% effaced.” Elisa and Jason let out a little cheer and told me I was already halfway there.
The midwife said “You’re lucky! We only have one room available; otherwise we’d have to keep you in triage.” My mind flashed back to Joseph’s birth, when I was stuck in a triage room for three hours. I said a little ‘Thank-you’ to Jesus, and we began the walk across the maternity center to my room, stopping along the way to breathe through contractions.
Once we were in the room, the midwives hooked me up to an IV for my antibiotic (I’m GBS positive). They also set me up for an NST for the baby. I groaned and complained: “How long is this going to take? Please hurry. I really want to get into the tub.” She informed me that they needed a 20-30 minute NST to make sure the baby was OK, and that afterward, I could get into the tub.
And so, for the next half hour, I labored around the room. When a contraction would hit, I’d lean over the bed, bend my legs in a half squat and breathe really loudly in through my nose and out through my mouth. Elisa dug the palms of both hands into the sides of my hips with all her might until the contraction let up.
(These contractions were different than with Joseph. With him, I had a lot of thigh/pelvic labor. But these were more centered in my hips and abdomen.)
I started to lose the ability to talk in between. I remember being frustrated in my mind that I couldn’t communicate that I needed Elisa. A big contraction would come on and it would take all I had just to mutter “Elisa!”, so she would know to start digging her palms in my hips. I also remember Jason stroking my arm, and I would wave it away, only wanting him to touch my hands.
I started to beg to get into the tub. The midwife came in to check the antibiotic drip and I asked her: “Can’t I please get into the tub? Please. Can we please hurry this? It hurts so bad.”
She saw the pain I was in and began squeezing the bag of antibiotic so that it went into my arm faster. It burned but I didn’t care, I just wanted to get into the tub! She asked if I wanted them to check me before I got into the tub, and I said ‘Yes’. I scrambled onto the bed in between contractions and asked her to hurry. She said I was at six. I lamented: “Only six?! Oh my God, I can’t do this. We’ve been here for hours!” (We’d really only been there an hour, but it felt like hours to me!). I sprung off of the bed and begged more and more…”Please let me get in the tub. Can I get in the tub? Is it time?”
Meanwhile, Elisa was filling the tub for me (I had no idea) J. The midwife (I wish I could remember her name!) unhooked me from the IV, cut out a glove for my hand so that I could put my hand into the water, and AT LAST…I was allowed to get into the tub.
This is where things got interesting.
I had the lights off; the bathroom was completely dark…only for the room light filtering in. The water was a relief; it took some of the pressure off of hips. But my contractions started coming closer together, about 2-3 minutes apart. One would hit and I’d grab the steel bar next to the tub and cling tightly, moaning through each one.
Elisa reminded me to keep my face and abdomen relaxed through them. I breathed heavy and sometimes even panicky through them, but I got through it. In between, my mind went into a dreamlike state. I think I even fell asleep a couple of times. I felt in a daze. Hot and then cold. My contractions were stronger and I began to doubt myself. I said to Jason and Elisa “I can’t do this. It hurts too bad. This is…please. When is this over? How much longer before she comes? I don’t think I can do this. Please help me, it hurts. Please…”
Jason reassured me: “But you ARE doing it, you’re doing a great job. You can do this.”
Elisa said we should try using the shower sprayer on my lower back during the contractions. It felt AH-MAZING. Soooo good. So much better.
But not for long.
As I was in the middle of a contraction, on all fours in the tub, the sprayer on my back, I got the guttural urge to bear down and grunt. I told Elisa that I felt pushy, and she told me to go with however I felt. So I did. We stopped using the sprayer, and every contraction after that, all I could do was lean over the side of the tub, grunt and bear down. My body took over, I couldn’t not push. I remember saying: “I’m only a six, why am I feeling pushy? Should I be pushing? Is she coming?”
Elisa reassured me to do whatever felt natural, even if it meant me pushing. It felt great to push with the contractions…like I was working with them instead of trying to manage the pain through them.
With each contraction though, I began to feel like I was going to throw up. Jason got a cold towel and put it on the back of my neck, and that helped with the nausea. The contractions were coming closer together, I began to whimper in between them. My body never really felt like I wasn’t pushing. I stayed in a constant state of work, with no let-up.
I noticed two midwives standing in the room observing me. “Let’s get her out of the tub and check her. She looks like she’s pushing.”
Elisa: “Stacey, do you want to get out and be checked?” I said ‘Yes.’.
I made it to the bed, they quickly checked me and I was at an 8. Elisa said: “Let’s have you do a few contractions over the side of the bed like earlier. If you feel like pushing, just push.”
So I squatted over the side of the bed and Elisa dug her palms into my hips. My legs were shaking; sweat was dripping down my forehead. I began to bear down, that being the only thing that felt good and natural. With each contraction, one right after the other, I bore down, moaning loudly. I cried out: “It feels like I’m pooping!”
Elisa: “Don’t worry about that, just keep doing whatever feels good.”
I looked down in between my legs, and there was blood (and a poop). And that worried me too. So. Much. Blood. They reassured me that it was normal. I squatted again and felt my body hunch over on it’s own, bearing down with the pressure.
Suddenly, I noticed there were now FIVE midwives in the room, all observing me…looking ready to pounce at any moment. They suggested that I use the squat bar when bearing down, and I agreed. “Does this mean that the baby is coming? Is it time to push?” (I’d been pushing all along!).
Elisa: “When is the last time you used the bathroom? Why don’t you try to go to the bathroom while they set up the squat bar?”
I went to the toilet, sat down backwards on it (facing the wall), and immediately got slammed with a huge contraction. I moaned, grunted and bore down with all my might.
*Panicked midwife in the background* “Okayyyy, let’s get her in here please. Sounds like she’s pushing pretty hard.”
Elisa to me, nonchalantly: “Why don’t we have one more contraction on the toilet, then we’ll move on to the squat bar.”
Another one hit, and I bore down with all my might and…
Something fell into the toilet, and before I could even look down, my elbow slipped from the metal plumbing and onto the flusher, flushing whatever it was away.
Jason said at this moment, his knees went weak and he almost fainted.
I let out a panicked cry: “OH MY GOD!!!”
Elisa: “It was just your bag of waters breaking…everything is okay.”
*Panicky midwives in the background* “Okay, she needs to get in here now! No more contractions on the toilet, please come in here.”
I climbed onto the bed, and standing up, I held onto the squat bar and waited for another contraction to hit. And it did. My legs and the entire bed were shaking. I bore down with a loud grunt until it passed. Then I yelled: “IT’S TOO BRIGHT IN HERE!” One of the nurses quickly went over to the window and closed a curtain.
Another contraction- and FIRE. FIRE. MY WHOLE NETHER REGION WAS ON FIRE. I screamed in pain: “Ohhhhhh, it burns!!!!”
Nurse: “That’s because her head is crowning, I need you to push.”
Screw waiting for the next contraction, I pushed and pushed with no letting up. This pain was BY FAR the worse pain throughout the whole labor. I knew the only way to end it was to keep pushing through it and GET HER OUT OF ME. I screamed. The pain was so horrible. Her head came out and I felt myself start ripping. Only, it wasn’t downward into my perineum. It was upward into my ‘love zone’ if you know what I mean. Searing, burning pain. I could feel every rip that was happening
The midwife said to me: “One more huge push and you’ll be skin to skin with her!”. I kept pushing and screaming, tears in my eyes.
And finally, in Jason’s words, she slipped out like a fish. The pain was gone. Except where I tore…that pain was still very real. What felt like an hour of pushing was really only ten minutes and she was in my arms.
Suddenly, I was laid in the bed, my baby on my chest. She was covered in vernix and very quiet. Her eyes were open and she was looking around. She kicked her feet like a frog trying to jump her way to my breast. It was the cutest thing J And I muttered my first sentence after having delivered my child: “I’m sorry I pooped and farted.” (LOLZ)
Meanwhile, the midwives began massaging my stomach to try and get the placenta to come out. This was painful too. Elisa grabbed my hand and told me to focus on my baby. Jason told me they were pulling the cord and massaging me at the same time to get the placenta out. Their hands were digging deep into my abdomen. Whenever they would push down on my stomach, a gush of blood and amniotic fluid would surge out and pool around my feet. Finally, the placenta came out with a small, gentle push.
The next thing I knew, my feet were in stirrups and the stitching process had begun. They numbed the area with a topical numbing agent. The pain was so horrible though. Elisa held my hand for a good part of that hour while they stitched me up.
And before I knew it, it was just us three and baby in the room. We stayed that way for a good two hours before they came in to weigh and measure the baby. She had the exact same measurements as her brother. Same hair color and everything! Absolutely a beauty.
My labor was only ten hours this time! Compared to a 42 hour labor with Joseph…I could not believe it. It felt like so much longer, but Jason said it went by SO. FAST.
Afterward, I just lay in the bed, saying over and over: “I can’t believe I did it. I can’t believe it.”
It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done- physically and mentally. And recovery for this natural birth has been amazing. I was up and walking around within that same day of having had her. My bleeding is almost completely gone a week later (whereas, with Joseph, I bled for five weeks after his birth). My stitches still hurt, but it doesn’t hurt to pee anymore- so that’s progress!
It was so worth it. She was definitely worth the wait. I can’t believe how one mother can have two completely different birth experiences. It’s crazy. I wouldn’t change a thing about either one of them.
I love my babies and their birth stories!