Just a note: This mom did not use Hypnobabies. I want to mention for my Hypnobabies moms who are reading. You may want to use your Bubble of Peace, as this mom did have quite a bit of pain during her birth. It is a great inspiring birth of a nice size baby!
The scene is a hot night in August. A nine months pregnant woman is trying, for what feels like the hundredth time, to force her body into labor. She is desperate. Really desperate. She has tried nearly everything. Lots of fruits and veggies, longs walks, endless bouncing on an exercise ball, mechanical breast pumping, primrose oil caplets, chi exercise machine, even that loathsome liquid, so feared and hated by pregnant women and yet tried so frequently: castor oil. Nothing proved effective until that one final night, two days after her due date.
This is my birth story.
It was a healthy pregnancy. The baby was growing well, measuring a week ahead of his dates as a matter of fact. It had been a fairly uneventful pregnancy too except for a miserable bout of chicken pox in the second trimester, a transverse lie in the third (easily fixed by a chiropractor), and an overall dramatic weight loss after going on a nutrition plan recommended by my midwife. But by about 30 weeks (ok, 21), I was so ready to be done.
Specifically, I was ready to be done with varicose veins. You know, those hideous, reddish purple splotches that make your legs look like a mass grave for blood cells? Yeah, those things. Some mornings, I woke up and felt I simply could not bear another day pregnant. And yet, somehow I did. My dear husband (who had endured much what with catching chicken pox from me and listening to my hormonal complaining for nine months) kept assuring me that birth would be “soon.” Since my daughter had been two weeks late, I wasn’t holding out much hope.
I had been in for a chiropractic adjustment the day of the 17th, poured out my pregnancy woes and been consoled that labor would undoubtedly be “soon” by my unfailingly amused chiropractor. Having never been “great with child”, he found the whole thing hilarious.
He then proceeded to tell me however, that his wife had gone into labor after ordering food from Mutt’s Barbecue, a local greasy spoon eatery. As I listened dismally, it occurred to me that my husband and I still had a leftover gift card from the place. “Why not?” I thought. When you’re 40 weeks pregnant, you’ll try just about anything. Even pork.
So we ate at Mutt’s Barbecue that evening. I went home, pumped a little, bounced a little, walked a little and went to bed with only the usual painless, “practice” contractions.
I woke up about 11:45 that night with contractions that had some slight pain to them. Instantly excited but at the same time not wanting my hopes to be dashed again, I decided to ignore them for as long as I could. That wasn’t very long. I lay in bed and prayed that they would keep going and that I’d be able to have my baby that night. Soon, I found I couldn’t lay flat when I was having a contraction. I began sitting up, gently rocking back and forth, and quietly moaning each time my uterus tightened in that unmistakable squeeze. That woke my husband and I told him that I thought I might really be in labor this time.
Too excited to go back to sleep, I began pacing the hallway outside our bedroom, dropping to my hands and knees and rocking whenever the contractions came on. As the pain quickly began to increase, I suddenly remembered how much labor with my daughter had hurt and wondered why I had been so eager for it to start. We forget how much it hurts. That’s why we get pregnant again.
By this time I was groaning loudly and supporting myself against furniture with each contraction. It seemed that this labor was moving along much faster than my daughter’s had so I thought, perhaps it would be wise to start timing contractions. I was shocked to discover they were almost exactly five minutes apart. Time to go to the birthing center.
We called our midwife who gave us the option of coming in now or waiting longer. Since we had to drop off our daughter and the birthing center was 50 minutes away, we opted to come in then. In retrospect, I’m glad we did. Had we waited longer, we might have had our baby on the highway. I got into the shower to try to ease the intense pain while my husband gathered and loaded our things and roused our puzzled little two-year-old.
I got into the back seat and crouched on hands and knees beside my daughter. It must have seemed highly random to her. One night she’s pulled from her bed, driven off to a friend’s house with her mother howling beside her and the next day, another little person appears in her home. Bizarre she must have thought.
Having disposed of our first baby, whose confused look seemed to convey that she did not think Mommy was “all right” despite my gasping reassurances, we began to speed to the birthing center.
As all laboring women know, the vibration of a vehicle ramps up the pain of contractions tenfold. Somewhere on that wild ride, I phased into transition. From this point on, I began to retreat into a kind of inner haze with vivid details jumping out here and there. The main thing I remember about that trip was hurtling down the highway at 80 miles an hour as I screamed my way from one birth pain to the next and pounded my fists against the seat.
When we arrived, my husband drove over the grass rather than attempt to navigate the oddly shaped driveway. The door to the strip mall that our birthing center was located in was locked. He pounded on it desperately while dialing our midwifes’ number. We didn’t have to wait long and she came running out (still tying her scrubs) to let us in. I was so relieved to see her.
As another contraction swept over me, I screamed almost involuntarily and she remarked to my husband that “it sounds like she’s pushing now.” I went into the bathroom feeling like I very much needed to “go” but could not. I was later told that this is the much touted “pushing sensation.” I didn’t recognize it because I had had an epidural with my first labor and thus ended up pushing my daughter out numb.
When I came out (still unable to “go”), our midwife was filling the birthing tub. Because this was August, cool water coming from the pipes was an almost impossibility. One of her assistants arrived on the scene and was immediately sent back out to buy several bags of ice from the local Wal-Mart. While we waited, I leaned on a birthing ball that was propped on the end of the bed. Our midwife rubbed my back and assured me that I was very close to having my baby. I knew I was but hearing it was encouraging just the same.
Finally, the water was cooled down enough to get in the birthing tub. My husband took up his post behind me as I sank down in the water and . . . felt a slight disappointment that warm water was not quite the total pain reliever I had hoped it was. I had heard the birthing tub called “the midwives’ epidural” and having had an epidural, I had hoped it would be the same effect but without the drugged feeling I hated so much. It did relax me enough though, that she was able to check my progress. I was seven centimeters and she told me that I had “a bulging bag of waters.” She then asked me if I wanted her to break it. I inquired (in between loud pain-filled howls) if it would speed up my progress and being told that it probably would, quickly agreed.
I expected the PROM (Premature Rupture of Membranes) to be extremely painful but surprisingly, all I felt was a huge gush of water. It did put me, finally, over the edge into the delivery stage and with that I began to push. I can’t really describe pushing except to say that it feels very much like a scraping sensation down the birth canal and when the baby’s head gets to the end, there is an intense burning as the opening stretches to let him out. “The ring of fire” as it’s commonly called.
I pushed for 17 minutes. The whole time telling everyone around me that “I can’t do this, I just can’t do this” only to be assured that “You’re doing it right now.” As the baby slid over the pressure points in the birth canal, I gripped my husband’s arms with the intensity of it. The head came out and my midwife told me to slow down on the pushing so we could ease the shoulders out. Unfortunately, his shoulders were large enough (his chest circumference measured larger than his head) that there just wasn’t any way to get him out without a tear.
So at 6:02 am, August 18th, 2010, my little son slid into the world at a hefty 9 pounds, 12 ounces.