My water broke at 2:30 in the morning on June 6th, 2008. I had just managed to fall asleep at 1:30 ... it's rough to sleep when you feel you are as big as a house. I tried to go back to sleep, but the contractions started right away and I was excited. I couldn't wait to meet this new little person that had already - or so I thought - become the center of my existence over the past 40 weeks. So I started looking around my house at what I needed to do before I left to be at the hospital for a few days. The dishes needed to be washed and there were a few other things that could be picked up and put away in anticipation of our new arrival.
Not to digress, but this story really begins 40 weeks earlier on September 15th, when I believe that he was conceived. I happily floated through the first seven months or so of my pregnancy. I didn't begin to think about the actual birth until we much later when we began attending our childbirth preparedness classes. After watching our first video, my husband and I looked at each other, then at my belly. We both knew that I was in trouble. Devin actually leaned over and whispered, " I think we made a mistake, we should have adopted!" I was suddenly terrified as to how I was going to get this baby out into the world.
By the second week of class, I had begun to do some research about childbirth options. I read Ida Mae's book on natural childbirth and was inspired, but still terrified. Natural childbirth meant that there would be no drugs involved, labor would be allowed to progress at its natural pace and all of the doctors and nurses would be there for worse case scenarios. The idea that my body knows exactly what to do to bring the baby out sounded like the best possible plan. Hey, I like nature!
The only problem that I could see with my new plan was that I have an extreme aversion to pain, or even the idea of pain. Just watching birthing videos made me sweaty and uneasy. So I hired a coach. Tina George Dawson is a doula we asked to help me help my body do what it was almost ready to do, to give birth. I would advise making this decision earlier; I think I was somewhere around 35 weeks when I first met with Tina. That didn't leave us much time to put together my natural childbirth plan. As a result, she met with us only two times before the birth. We talked about my health, my plan and my birth some 29 years ago. She really helped me to get a plan of action in writing and to present my plan to my team of doctors. Oddly, my plan didn't have much to do with me. It was very detailed instructions for everyone else. It was kind of like a will or a power of attorney: “If I can't speak for myself, here's what I want” kind of a thing. I wanted to labor in the comfort of my home as long as possible. I didn't want an IV or other pain medications offered, but I did want them available if I asked. I basically wanted as natural a childbirth as possible.
On the actual morning of my son’s birth, I began right on track with my plan. Awake, by myself in the early morning hours, I was overflowing with excitement. I was ready. “Bring on the contractions,” I thought to myself. I was going to be at the hospital pushing the baby out by 9 am.
I waited until 7 am to call Tina and let her know that today was the day. She suggested that we check back in at 10 am to see how I was progressing. Slightly discouraged, that wasn't part of my plan, I agreed.
The contractions started coming on stronger and stronger. I would try to lie in bed and on the couch, but nothing helped. Devin could hear my painful moans and started timing the contractions in the hopes that this would let us know the birth was near: 7 minutes... 4 minutes… 7 minutes... 10 minutes. They were strong, but irregular. I was already crying in pain when I called Tina at 10 am. She felt that I still had a ways to go, so I shouldn't head to the hospital yet. I called her again at noon, thinking surely I needed to go to the hospital as I was in so much pain I was going to have this baby any minute, so she came over to help me along. The next two hours progressed the same way. The couch, the bed, the shower, nothing made the contractions bearable. I kept saying that I couldn't do it and Tina and Devin would chime in “but you are doing it.” When I could take it no longer, I insisted that we move our party to the hospital.
Upon arriving at the hospital, they checked my dilation. I had been having contractions for over 12 hours, so I was crushed to hear that I was only at 2 centimeters. How much longer could I go? Doing the math - and births are not about math - I was thinking that this could last for days. So Devin and Tina helped me to walk around the hospital, get in the tub, get out of the tub, and walk more until I finally, literally, couldn't take it anymore. After checking me again, there was no more progress. I wanted help. Tina spoke to the nurses who were talking to the doctor about options and meds. We finally decided to try pitocin to help the labor progress. This is when I promptly asked for drugs. If I was going to be tied to the bed, I wasn't going to be there without pain medication. The anesthesiologist was called in and Devin and Tina held my hand while she inserted the epidural. It took her 45 minutes and three tries to get it in. I then had to lie on my left side so that it would fully kick in.
After this, my birth was quite magical. I progressed to 10 centimeters in a couple of hours and began pushing around 10 pm. Devin and Tina had to hold my legs as I couldn't feel anything below my waist. Devin was telling jokes and trying to make us all laugh. I think I was even told “less chatting more pushing” from the doctor. After an hour of pushing, the doctor announced, "It's a boy!" It was the most amazing moment of my life. I had done it!