4 a.m. - I roll out of bed and go pee, because going pee all hours of the night is just part and parcel with pregnancy, am I right? As I’d done every time I peed for the last month, I checked the toilet and the toilet paper, looking for signs that labor had begun. Blood. Anything. Nothing. I crawled back into bed, exhausted and depressed about the whole thing. I laid there letting the thoughts come and go. I was sad, exhausted, disappointed, confused, telling myself I would go into labor at the right time, trying to find hope and inspiration… the thoughts just tumbled about like rocks in a rock tumbler. They hurt. They thudded against the walls of my brain. And at some point they dulled. They got more smooth. I knew the reality of the situation. After a month of labor signs, contractions and hope, I may have felt hopeless, but I knew the truth: labor was coming. He couldn’t stay in there forever.
6 a.m. - I roll out of bed and go pee…. Again. (see above) This time, there is blood and mucus (and do I really need to apologize for being so blunt? You’re reading a birth story for goodness sake!) and I couldn’t be happier. It’s happening. I crawl back into bed, cuddle up next to my husband and tell him, “It’s starting.” My whisper feels like it’s riding on wings, sending hope and promise into the room where I’d been crying for weeks on end. He startles to consciousness and asks, “Should I stay home?” “Oh no,” I reply, “It could be a long while. I’ll keep you posted.” The morning continued like all mornings. I made breakfast, packed lunches, kissed my husband goodbye, granted my girls screen time, and got ready for the day. My dad said he would take the girls to and from preschool while my mom and I went to my midwife appointment.
8:45 a.m. - Midwife appointment. I tried not to be too hopeful. After all, I’d been having contractions for days on end for over a month. The texts exchanged between me and my doula were embarrassing at this point. Still, it had to be done. Mom and I went to the appointment, did the weigh in, the pee in the a cup thing, and then waited in the exam room for the nurse. I casually told the nurse that I’d had bloody show this morning and I was hopeful baby was on his way. I had an ultrasound and confirmed the placenta was gigantic, going across the front of my uterus, preventing baby from assuming the correct position (he was transverse). Otherwise, everything looked good. Onto the table I went, except I couldn’t sit still, so I stood, hooked up to the fetal monitoring system, waiting to get my hour’s worth of good heart beat measurements. The nurse kept checking in and said baby must be sleeping. Did I want a juice? Could I walk around? I grabbed my water bottle and started drinking. I didn’t have an appetite and didn’t really want anything to drink. Moving, jiggling, talking to him and laughing with my mom, we saw some great spikes on the monitor. We kept hoping we would get enough to go home.
Finally, the midwife came in and said we’d had enough heart rate spikes. She also said, “You’re having a lot of contractions. Did you know that?” I laughed and said, “I’ve been having contractions for a month! I’ve stopped thinking they mean anything anymore!” She pointed to the chart and said, “These are really long though and really close together.” I smiled and said, “Well, hopefully baby will be here soon!” A little twinge went through me. Maybe this really is it?! I thought sadly about my daughter's birthday the next day and how I’d been so sure this baby would be here before then. The whole pregnancy I had worried about missing her birthday and assured myself I wouldn’t and now? It looked like this baby was taking the same timeline as she had.
I was also informed at this point that none of the midwives were on call that night. Really? I go to midwives my entire pregnancy, meet them all, and now none of them would be at the hospital if the baby came that night? I felt jittery and anxious. The midwives were my people. And who knows who I would get. They mentioned a doctor's name and I started texting friends and my husband about the turn of events. Thankfully, my husband wrote back quickly saying that the OB on call had an incredible reputation. I just prayed I wouldn't be there long enough to care!
The kind midwife came back in and asked if we could schedule my induction. I had prayed it wouldn’t come to this. Each weekly chiropractor appointment, I had said, “I’ll schedule it but hopefully won’t be able to make it.” Each midwife appointment I would say, “I’ll schedule it but hopefully won’t be there!” I had done everything to try to move things along. I took Master Gland. I ate entire pineapples. I did inversions to improve position (a la http://www.spinningbabies.com). I had sex. I did hip circles on the exercise ball. I danced. I played with my girls until I forgot what I was waiting for. I relaxed as much as I could. I bounced. I did squats. I made labor drinks and labor cookies. I drank them and ate them. A lot. I cried. I laughed. And no matter what, it came down to this: My first was 42 weeks and 1 day. My second was 41 weeks and 6 days. And this one? Well, we were at 41 weeks and 5 days, and counting. So, we scheduled the induction. Friday, February 26, at 7 a.m. Pssssh, I thought to myself, I don’t think I’ll have to go to that appointment and even if I did, I certainly wasn’t going to rush to a 7 a.m. appointment to be induced.
After the midwife appointment was over, I told my mom I wanted a coffee from my favorite coffee drive-through, Micah’s. It was raining outside and as we left the building I asked if I could drive. “Are you sure? You’re in labor!” mom asked. “I’ve been in labor for a month!” I replied. I drove us a couple blocks out of our way toward the coffee place and my husband called. I had texted him during the appointment to say maybe he should come home at lunch, just in case. “I’m on my way! Should I come to the midwife’s office, or the hospital, or what?” I laughed at his urgency. “Just come home! I’m grabbing a coffee with mom.” I said, laughing out loud. “I thought you were in labor?!” he exclaimed. “I’ve been in labor for a month!” I said for what seemed the fifth time that day.
Mom and I returned home with our coffees. I sat at the counter, guzzling mine while dad cleaned and cooked. He was going to make his famous chicken enchiladas and I couldn’t wait to eat them. When my coffee was finished (within minutes), I said I was going to lay down. I had this fantasy that I could just lay in bed, progress with labor, focus on hypnobirthing, and my baby would just slip out of my body. Hey, I said it was a fantasy, right?
I was pleased that the contractions had continued. I laid in bed. I drank water. I watched episodes of the Bachelor. At some point, I silenced my phone and stopped texting my friends. My husband came home. My dad picked up our youngest daughter from school and brought our oldest home early, too. I could hear their tiny voices chatting enthusiastically. How exciting for them: grandparents there, daddy home early, mommy in bed. Something was happening! I was proud of the work I was doing. I relaxed into the contractions. I dozed whenever I could (an issue in my two previous births). I stayed hydrated (an issue in my first birth). It all felt good.
She came in and chatted with me for a bit. Asked me to use the bathroom and have some contractions while sitting on the toilet, which I did. She asked if we could take a walk. My husband and I obliged. She helped me slip on some shoes, saying it was wet outside. I vaguely remembered the afternoon in bed, listening to the thunder and rain and wind outside my window, thinking, this sounded more like a summer storm, not a February afternoon. I noticed how damp everything was outside and how clear the sky had become, watching the soon-to-be-sunset colors drift across the sky. My husband and I walked, me leaning on him when need be, slowing or stopping for contractions to pass. I could hear my doula taking pictures while we walked. Down to the end of the street we went. Turning around and walking back. When we reached the house, my husband decided to go in to help with the kids and dinner. Doula and I kept walking to the other end of the street and back. At one point my neighbor hollered, “Trying to walk that baby out?” I just waved my hand in the air. I couldn't have a conversation about it right now. He couldn’t know how right he was. I bragged to her about my dad’s enchiladas and she cautioned me about eating dairy before labor. I was so disappointed, but trusted her judgment. The last thing I wanted was to be throwing up my dad’s beloved enchiladas.
When my oldest daughter came in to say goodnight, I felt the loneliness overcome me. I missed my kids and my husband and my parents. I had missed dinner and games and bedtime. And here my daughter was asking if I could come do bedtime with her. I hugged and kissed her and said I just couldn’t right now; I was trying to have our baby brother. She left the room looking as sad as I felt and I started crying. I told my doula, “I miss my kids.” And then I began to sob.
And then I began to move. My husband had my bag. My kids were in bed. My parents stood in the entryway at the end of the hall, watching me slowly walk toward the door. I stood in the entryway awkwardly. My mom rubbed my back. I looked at my doula and husband for help. I didn’t want this. My headphones were in my ears, playing Hypnobirthing tracks I’d listened to the entire pregnancy. I wanted to stay in my cave, not converse or interact with people. I headed for the door, stopping again for another contraction. They were coming so quickly now. Over the threshold, to the first step, and stopping for another one, I realized my dad was next to me. I could hear the doula getting in her car, and my husband starting his. As usual, the February weather didn’t seem to penetrate my labor. I felt no temperature change as I walked, contracted, walked, and contracted to the car. My dad’s hand was gently on my elbow and he explained, “I’m just going to help you to the car, so you don’t fall.” My eyes filled with tears. He’s a good dad. Not intrusive. Not pushy. Just helpful. Quietly strong. He helped me in the car, squeezed my hand and I leaned back with my eyes closed, trying to focus, yet again, on the hypnobirthing labor cave I had built for myself in my head.
The nurse kept gushing about two things: how big my baby was and how relaxed I was.
“You should give classes on how to be relaxed!”
“I’ve never seen a laboring woman so relaxed before!”
“Your body was completely limp!”
“That’s a big boy!”
And forever captured on video, her saying, “He’s a monster!”
They moved us to another room for the night, though I insisted I didn’t want to stay. I wanted to go home with my baby. Tomorrow is my daughter’s birthday. I wanted to be home. My husband slept. I couldn’t sleep. I had a baby. The baby I had wished for, prayed for, fought for, begged for; he was here. I just stared at him.
In the morning my husband returned home to have breakfast with our birthday girl. I cleaned myself up and sat cross-legged in bed, texting and Facebook-ing and just gushing over the goodness of my little miracle. A nurse came in and said, “If you’re sitting like that, I’m guessing you’re just fine and ready to go home!” Everyone on the floor knew us as the family who wanted to leave early, who had a birthday girl at home. I so appreciated all of their help and concern, but I wanted out.
My husband returned; he brought our daughters and enchiladas! We all hung out. Took pictures. Waited for doctors to come and go and check us off their list. It seemed an eternity before we were getting into our car and heading home to begin our new lives as a family of five.
I would say in these first 24+ hours that this unmedicated, natural childbirth was the hardest thing I’d ever done in my life. I had no idea what the next month would hold…
Thank you for reading this extremely personal, beautiful and life-changing account of the birth of my son. I appreciate your supportiveness and kindness as you peek into a private moment of my life.