The day started out like every other Thursday before. I dropped off my son at his dad’s house and headed to my weekly pre-natal yoga class. This time, at 38 1/2 weeks pregnant, I was hoping this class would be my last one.
I was feeling much more pressure in my pelvic area and lower back but I was determined to push myself through class. It was embarrassing, but I could barely do the majority of the poses and stretches. Everything ached in a way that I couldn’t even begin to describe.
It took every ounce of energy I had to get through the 70-minute class and finally, at the end, when the instructor told us to get into our relaxing positions, I felt the sweet tears of relief slip down my cheeks. I was done.
I had grand plans for that afternoon which included last minute Christmas shopping, a few loads of laundry and installing the car seat, but instead I drove home and fell asleep on the couch, skipping lunch and a shower. I hadn’t felt that exhausted in a long while.
When I woke up, 2 1/2 hours later, I felt better, physically, but guilt had taken over as I focused on the things I had not been able to accomplish. It was already 3:00 in the afternoon and I had no motivation. I can get the last minute things done tomorrow, I thought to myself.
My husband was getting off work early that day, so I waited patiently for him to get home, breathing through the few mild contractions that kept occurring.
Just the Two of Us
Once he was home, I quickly lost track of time. I used that time to finally take my daily shower and quickly felt more energized. I became pretty emotional as we then sat and talked about the upcoming weekend, how we would have a few days to ourselves while my son was at his dad’s. Our discussion quickly moved to how it would be a good weekend to have the baby, joking about how badly I was looking forward to no longer being pregnant.
For the next few hours, mild contractions kept me from moving too far from the recliner but I didn’t think twice about how long they lasted or how often they were occurring.
They became even stronger around 1o:00 pm, and suddenly my mind started working overtime, thinking about what we would need in our hospital bag (that hadn’t been packed yet at this point) and internally panicking about if I would be able to handle the labor pains using the hypnobirth techniques that I hadn’t practiced enough. I never once voiced my concern to my husband. I was in denial that this was really happening.
Even though the contractions did not let up over the next hour, I suggested that we go to bed, thinking there were hours ahead of us until we needed to even think about calling the doctor. My husband fell asleep about twenty minutes later. I listened to his heavy breathing and was glad he was getting some rest but over the twenty minutes that followed, the contractions remained consistently strong, coming every twelve minutes.
I started to feel nauseous and with little warning and no energy to get to the bathroom, I threw up all over our bed. At that point, I finally admitted to myself and verbalized to my husband that it was time to call the doctor, that we needed to time my contractions and, oh yeah, pack for the hospital.
I had him start the self-hypnosis CD so I could get me into a more relaxed state. He called the doctor, left a message and tried to wake up (this all happened so quickly). The most entertaining part of this whole event was him attempting to pack my hospital bag, following instructions from me that included details like, “I need that one thing, and I have no idea where it is but if you could find it, that would be great.”
He was a bit panicked, asking me what he should do as I could barely think or talk between contractions, which were now closer to four minutes apart. The doctor finally called us back as we were ready to leave the house. The 3 mile ride to the hospital seemed much longer, even though I kept asking my husband to slow down. The contractions were pretty intense at this point but for some reason, I scoffed at his suggestion that I sit in the wheelchair once we arrived so I hobbled down the hallway in slow motion, finally reaching the birth pavilion of our hospital.
We had just had the hospital tour that Monday and filled out our paperwork to pre-register but it still seemed as though it took forever to get checked in. Our room was waiting for us since our doctor called ahead and I stepped into the bathroom to undress as my husband ran out to park the car. I remember thinking that I should not have been left alone at that point. The contractions were so strong that I could barely remove my clothes on my own, or stand, or sit, or walk.
By the time my husband returned, I was in the hospital gown, attempting to climb onto the birthing bed. I think it was around 1:30 am (December 24) when we arrived. The nurse on duty asked me questions about my weight, height and confirmed, after reading over my birth plan (that I hadn’t even shown my husband yet), that I was going to attempt to have a natural birth, a VBAC without any drugs or distraction from the hospital staff.
With the paperwork out of the way, the nurse checked my cervix. I was dilated to 3 centimeters and at that point, I figured I still had a long way to go before the baby would be joining us.
Then, we were left alone and the room remained dark and silent as I squeezed my husband’s hand during each contraction, demanding ice chips and a shoulder massage with simple commands, not able to say more than two words at at time.
I wasn’t wearing my glasses at this point so I couldn’t see the clock in the room if I wanted to, so I have no idea how long my contractions were lasting or how often but I tried. The pain was intense but was coming in waves. Each time a contraction peaked, I began doubting whether or not I could endure them much longer. In between each one I would share my doubts with my husband, telling him that I didn’t think I could handle anymore. He kept reminding me that I could and we had this same back and forth discussion for at least twenty minutes before I finally asked him to call the nurse in so we could discuss my alternatives for drugs to manage the pain.
The nurse hadn’t been in our room for several hours, honoring my birth plan and not distracting us since it wasn’t necessary. When we told her that I was hoping for pain medication, she told us that she would have to check my progress. Around 5:00 am she shocked us both by telling me that it was too late (for drugs), I was already fully dilated and would probably want to start pushing soon.
Again, we were left alone as the nurse instructed us to inform her as soon as I felt the urge to push. I hesitated for maybe one minute before calling her back in, letting her know that I was ready. I was ready to get this baby out.
Not quickly enough, she and another nurse began preparing the room with everything they would need. My doctor was called and after ten long minutes or so, he came in, whispering and letting me know that our baby would be joining us soon. Already, I was feeling relief, knowing that this process was nearly over.
Just Push It
The doctor came in and congratulated me for making it to this point without any drugs, letting me know what was going to happen next. All I could think about was meeting my baby and wanting him out of me as soon as possible. Everything happened so quickly after that. He asked me to bear down and push, taking breaks in between but I didn’t want to stop once I felt the baby making his way down and out of my body. I pushed and I wailed, my entire body working harder than I ever knew was possible.
Our baby slipped out so fast and suddenly, he was on my belly, still attached to the umbilical cord and I began to weep with relief, joy and sheer amazement that the VBAC was a success, that I didn’t have any drugs and that our baby was finally here.
The hospital that we birthed at is San Diego County’s first World Health Organization-designated Baby-Friendly birth pavilion, which means that they promote breastfeeding and bonding time (we were not given any formula and were encouraged to start breastfeeding right away).
The baby was placed on my chest immediately after the cord was cut and he stayed there for two full hours before they finally bathed him or put a diaper on his bottom. Yes, he peed all over me, yes, he still had blood on him and YES, it was the most amazing two hours that the three of us had together. My husband took pictures, as we admired our new baby and delighted in every movement, stretch, and yawn.
Baby’s First Christmas
We were able to go home the next day, and my older son was waiting anxiously to meet his new brother. We got home just in time to wrap gifts (in plastic bags) and start our Christmas Day celebration with our newest family member. There were presents for the baby and as we opened them, I questioned how everyone knew he would be here for Christmas. I wish someone had let us know.
Our baby is one week old today and already I can’t imagine our lives without him. Happy Healthy Hip Parenting Peace Begins in the Home