Two months ago, on October 19th, I gave birth to my son, Walter. Birthing was the most amazing, healing, life-affirming, empowering experience imaginable.
I went to bed on October 18th in complete misery. The baby’s rump was wedged under my ribs. I could hardly breath. I somehow managed to fall asleep around 8:00 pm. At midnight, I woke up with a contraction (which I will now call “surges” because that’s the term we use in HypnoBirthing and it’s a lot more accurate, I think). I immediately knew it was different from the Braxton Hicks/”practice surges” I had been feeling for a few weeks. Those felt like a pretty extreme tightening at the top of my huge belly. This one seemed to travel down into my pelvis, with the pressure at the top releasing as the lower muscles tightened. I drank a lot of water and went back to sleep; if this was it, I wanted to be rested and hydrated. It was technically October 19th, one week after my 28th birthday and nine days before Walter’s due date.
Another “traveling” surge woke me up at 4:00 am and again at 8:00. As luck would have it, I had a routine appointment with my midwife at 9:30 anyway, so I just kept hydrating and resting. That appointment turned into a non-stress test (they monitored the baby and my surges while I lay still) which turned into an ultrasound appointment. My surges were not regular, even though they were happening. I was one centimeter dilated, which means pretty much nothing–a pregnant woman can stay there for weeks. But the reason for the ultrasound check was my crazy monkey baby–he just never liked being monitored! The kid would move away from every monitor ever put near him, and he even managed to kick them or punch them. The readings for his heart rate were not indicative of anything, making the results of the test inconclusive (if you remember the monitoring after the car accident? similar deal).
I breathed deeply through a trip to Ikea–can you say “nesting”?–and a therapy appointment before it was time for the ultrasound. Everything was normal with our beautiful boy, but there was a lot of fluid in there. The nurse told me that they’d make an appointment for me on Monday to keep track of the fluid, because if it got any higher, there’d be some danger of something. I don’t remember. She also said that she didn’t think that my baby was staying put until Monday, so good luck with the birth!
Serendipity struck again at 5:30 pm, when my doula, Kate, arrived for a meet-up we had set up earlier in the week. I was supposed to be finalizing my birth plan. I sent Nathan to do laundry, even though I was pretty convinced that this was it. Within an hour, Kate and I knew that this was IT. I called the midwife, Elise, to let her know what was going on. She told me to keep doing what I was doing, rest, and call again later. Part of me wanted to go to the hospital, because my body was just taking over and doing really intense things! And it hurt! I knew better, though. I also knew that they’d send me right home again if I went too early. Kate held my hand as labor progressed.
By 6:30, we were both pretty shocked at how intense things had become. I was vomiting and laboring on the toilet (both very normal). Kate called Nathan, who came home with wet laundry to find me unable to speak. I wanted to move to the birthing ball/stability ball. It didn’t take much rocking back and forth on that before my water broke. A little later (I was not watching the clock!), I felt a warm gush. Nathan and Kate (doula) talked to Elise (midwife) for a bit while I moaned and tried not to freak out about the pain. I really struggled with this phase. I could not believe that I was still supposed to stay at home! I felt like as long as I was at home, this intensity, the pain, could go on indefinitely. I didn’t feel like I could handle this indefinitely. I wanted to know that my body was moving forward. I felt terrified that labor would stall here. I needn’t have worried.
Kate helped move me to the bed (I didn’t want to move!) to labor on my side and conserve energy. That baby moved as soon as I lay down, because immediately, I blurted out “I want to push!” I remember Kate saying “Alright, get up, let’s go!” She called Elise to tell her we were on our way to the hospital. Nathan ran around getting things together. I remember wanting to kill him for pausing in the hallway to ask our neighbors to walk the dog (this now strikes me as a very smart thing to have done…) and wondering how I was supposed to get to the car door, since walking over the small patch of grass seemed impossible.
I spent an interminable amount of time trying not to push in the car. There seemed to be a ridiculous number of red lights and busses stopping in front of us. I think we got to the hospital around 7:30. Fast, right? It still seems unbelievable that I went from chatting on the phone to triage in about two hours.
That’s long enough, so I’ll leave it for now! Stay tuned for the rest of my beautiful story.