A week ago this time I was sitting at the computer experiencing some mild contractions. Part of me had a feeling the time had come but since the contractions weren’t particularly strong I still had a hard time believing it. Graham and I went to bed around 11:30 – he was quite tired but for some reason I was not. I tried to sleep but my mind would just not settle down so I got up and watched some TV. I ended up seeing the first part of “When Harry Met Sally” and then went back to bed at 2:00. I still was not able to sleep – or at least not deeply. I’m not sure how much sleep I did get but at 4 I woke up with contractions strong enough to make me uncomfortable staying in bed. I got up to walk and around 4:30 I decided I really needed Graham to be up with me to help me handle them. They weren’t that bad at this point, I just need the moral support. Things continued in this vein until around 6:00 when Graham called the midwife (Amy) and woke her up. When she learned I was having the pains mostly in my back she asked me to do hula-hoops during my contractions to try to get the baby to turn. At this point the contractions were sporadic – anywhere from 30 seconds to 1 minute long, 3 to 10 minutes apart. I called my Doula at 6:30 (also woke her up) to let her know what was going on. She had another mother in labor and told me that she would likely be sending her backup to work with me. Around 8:30 I really wanted to get in the car and drive to the Birth Center as it is 20 to 30 minutes away and I wasn’t sure I could handle the contractions in the car. The only thing that relieved my pain in any way was to stand up or rock through contractions – neither of which is possible while driving! We called the midwife and she told us to come on in. Thankfully rush hour was over and we didn’t have to stop at too many lights. She settled us in and I went to the rocking chair as it was the only place I could sit comfortably (rocking during contractions helped me work through them.)
My doula showed up a few minutes later. Her name was Julie and I had not met her before but we clicked well and she was so encouraging. She left shortly thereafter to get Graham breakfast (and a muffin for me although I did not feel like eating). I ate a small amount when she came back but I basically survived that day on fruit juice and gatorade. I didn’t feel sick to my stomach – just not interested in food. I actually stayed very well hydrated. Partly from Julie and Graham’s prompting to drink often and partly because I was incredibly thirsty. To sum up the next few hours I moved ALL around the room trying to find comfortable positions for labor and transition. I tried everything, lying in bed, the birth ball, etc but the only way I could handle a contraction was standing up. Graham was wonderful in providing counter pressure. His poor arms were so tired the next day. Somewhere during this time my midwife rechecked me and I was at 6cm. It was very disheartening – I had hoped I was further but at least I was making progress. During transition I felt like I couldn’t do it and I remember crying out to God many times. My doula was wonderful in quoting scripture to me to encourage me..I hadn’t even known she was a Christian.
At the point where I was about to give up the midwife said I could get in the tub. For some reason I felt like if I could just make it to the point where I could get in the tub I could get through the rest no problem. She checked me there and I was at 10 and could push! The bad part was, I could not push effectively in the tub. Lying there I again had the feeling I couldn’t do it anymore and I voiced this to all present (midwife, doula, & Graham) and my midwife began to pray for me. Again, this was SUCH an encouragement. I also sang a hymn to myself during a break in the contractions but I can’t remember what it was. After about an hour in the tub and several position changes the midwife wanted me to get out to try pushing on the bed. I was dead against this since I hadn’t been able to lie down comfortably before but I also wanted the baby out SO bad so I complied. I pushed on the bed for about 2 hours and just when the midwife thought I would have to change positions again (she was suggesting a birthing stool) I started to make really good progress. I cannot tell you the relief when her head finally came out. It hurt like crazy but then was numb. I can remember telling them I felt numb down there and was that ok? The midwife laughed and told me I WANTED to feel numb down there. One more push and she slid out. I was overcome with emotion – the relief of the hardest part being over and also of seeing her. We did the normal things, looked at each other, Graham called the family, attempted to nurse (not particularly successfully). The midwife checked me for tears and determined I had two small ones but they didn’t require any stitching or glue – she just told me to keep my legs together as much as possible. Graham said she worked really hard to keep me from tearing. I was oblivious to it all so I’m taking his word for it. We got all cleaned up but by that time it was late and although I wanted to go home I also wanted to stay put where it was comfortable. I also was having a hard time emptying my bladder and the midwife said I couldn’t go until I did that. We stayed until 2ish the next day.
We brought her home and have been learning this parenthood thing ever since.There have been some REALLY rough days and nights but overall she’s been quite good. The nursing gets a bit better each day and on my lowest day my doula came to see me and she along with my mom and Graham were such an encouragement. My doula also told me I was the most polite person she had seen in labor. I said please, thank you, and I’m sorry for taking so long. This is especially funny as Julie’s (my sister, not the doula) coworkers told her I would cuss up a storm in labor since I was doing it naturally. She informed them I wasn’t that kind of person and you know, cussing never even crossed my mind. Julie (the doula) and Graham laughed afterwards that the “worst” word I used during the whole event was “wowsers.” I also suffered from really bad leg and foot cramps while pushing. The midwife and doula said it was because I labored on my feet for so long that my legs were really tired. I think the only thing worse than the pain of pushing has to be the pain of pushing with leg and foot cramps! Sometimes I would be mid-push, get a cramp and Graham or the doula would have to massage it for me. There was no way I could walk it out. 🙂