Birth Story

I toyed with writing the details of this story because the abstract seemed just as powerful, but I remember being pregnant so well, and the search to find some sense of normalcy in what I was about to experience was urgent in a sea of horror-stories.  Without further ado, the day Lane was born:

I woke up at 4:00 am on Sept 2nd at 37 weeks 3 days pregnant to a trickle of water.  It wasn't a splash and there wasn't any mess, so I didn't think anything of it really and went to the bathroom to see what was going on.

Nothing.  It was as if the water was in my head.  Shrugging it off, I made my way back to bed when I felt my first contraction.  To me, this was like a low stomach ache or a cramp.  It would come and go in small waves, but I really didn't think this could be labor.  After all, I was around 37 weeks pregnant with my first child and despite being absolutely miserable, I imagined he'd come 2 weeks late, not early.

The cramps kept coming though so I laid back down beside Colt, who was still asleep, and downloaded a contraction counter app on my Iphone to see if there was a pattern to the pains.  When I finally got the app loaded and timed my contractions they were a minute and a half long and only 20 seconds apart.  I kind of moaned about this and Colt woke up.

"I think I'm in labor."
"Really?  Really?  What should I do?"
"Go back to bed."

So he did.

I tried to relax in bed, but I couldn't ignore the pain, especially knowing now what it was and I was excited while at the same time trying to relax.  The contractions at this point were still manageable, even though they lasted a pretty long time.

Around 6am, Colt woke up and I was having it pretty rough.  I'd moved to the couch and was leaning over the back to relieve the pain.  He asked what I needed and I said, "Phone".  I texted my midwife who told me she'd wake up and eat some breakfast and give me a call in a few to see how I was.  I called my mom, who was out of town and was supposed to drive us to the birth center, and tried to tell her I was in labor, but I couldn't talk through my contractions now and Colt had to come over each time one hit (still every 20 seconds or so) and rub my back.

"What can I do?" mom panicked on the phone.
"Drive me."
"I can't drive you!  I'm 6 hours away!  Do you need me to come home?  Do you need me to call Regie."
"Call Regie."

My step-dad Regie, was already at work.  I remember Colt eating a bagel, I remember the contractions started to feel stronger and although the pain was intensifying, I kept taking them "one contraction at a time" and relax through them.  I remember Colt finished his bagel and I pointed to a mostly pre-packed back for the birth center with a list on top of things we still needed and he rushed around finding everything.  I remember my step dad took forever to get home.

My midwife called again and listened to a few contractions and told me to come in.

Still on the couch, Colt started counting through my contractions, "one-alligator, two-alligator, three-alligator".  After a few contractions, I knew when he got to ten-alligator that the pain would start to subside and I'd get a break.  This really helped.  At the start of the pain, I knew he just had to get to ten.

Finally Regie came home and I had one contraction inside before I rushed down the stairs and to the car.  Regie, might I add, is race-track certified and currently drives a security SUV with a blinking light on top.  Needless to say, the 20 minute drive to the birth center was about 10 minutes long, past two cops on the highway who just let us drive right by.  I remember looking in the rearview mirror and seeing Regie's eyes all wild while Colt and I kept trying to stay calm in the backseat as we were jostled around.  When we got to the center, Regie asked what he could do and I told him he could go.

We were good.  We were together and my midwife was there

My midwife checked me and I was 5cm.  She stretched me to 6, which was a really strange feeling.  I asked her if we could stay, thinking for some reason that she'd make us go to the mall and walk around or something from other birth stories I'd heard about women being stuck at 5cm and having to go back home, but of course she told us yes.  So I stripped down, right there.

It was 10:30am.  I'd been awake and in labor since 4am with no food.  Colt tried to get me to eat a granola bar, but I didn't have time to chew and swallow before another contraction would come and the gritty pieces of the bar would get stuck in my mouth.  Instead my midwife got me a vitamin water and I sipped that in between the pains.  I remember I was bleeding this whole time, all over the place and I was so self conscious about it, but was assured it was just my cervix opening.  Still I shuffled a towel on the ground wherever I walked.

I tried contractions in a lot of positions at first, on hands and knees, over a birth ball, in the bathroom, lying down, but the only way I could get any relief was standing with my arms around Colt's shoulders and going limp while he counted "one-alligator...two-alligator..." (aka labor dancing).

By noon I was exhausted.  I hadn't eaten and felt weak, so I tried to lay down but the pain shot through me and didn't stop at ten-alligator, (I remember screaming "they aren't stopping!") so my midwife filled the birth pool.  She checked Lane's heartbeat with a doppler and he was completely relaxed, so I tried to relax too, but sitting was not doing it for me.  I'd sit in the pool and stand for every contraction, making me MORE exhausted and I was still bleeding which kind of grossed me out.  So Colt and I got in the shower.  He'd been alligator counting for hours now and would sometimes forget until I'd scream "5 alligator already!" since I was relying on this counting to "move the contractions along" in my head.  It became pretty hard for me to focus.  I said, "I can't do this" a lot but not because I really thought I couldn't, more because I wanted to hear that I was doing okay.

Around this point I started to have visualizations.  I pretended I was in an ocean and each contraction was a wave that would peak until I'd ride it down the other side.  The double-peaks kept happening though which was TOUGH and I still couldn't lay down even though my body really wanted to.

At 2pm my midwife checked me for the first time since I'd been there and I was 10cm.  We dried off, and labor danced again and she told me if I had the urge to push I could.  I didn't, but if I was 10cm, this baby was coming out.  I gave a small push and my back lit up in pain.  This felt worse than all of the contractions.  I told my midwife and she said to push past it, pushing harder would make the pain go away, so I pushed harder and my water finally broke.

I remember being afraid all of a sudden, and my midwife told me it was just a change in labor, it was okay and that I should push!  So I did.  Twice.  WHILE I was standing.  I was too exhausted to push again and let a contraction come and go.  I still didn't feel "an urge" to push, more an urge to be done.  Another midwife came in and applied hot compresses to help prevent tearing.  One more push and I felt like the whole world was splitting open, I had to become wider with my entire body, with my mind, wider than I ever though possible, just open open open.

My son was born, screaming.

He had the umbilical cord wrapped twice around his neck and over both of his shoulders like a backpack, so the midwife had to untangle him before I could reach down and grab him and in that moment, when I first touched his skin it was the biggest endorphin rush in the whole world.  I don't know how they got me lying down on the bed, all I remember is thanking everyone in the room over and over again.  Lane was the lightest freshest shade of pink.  He lay on my chest quietly opening and closing his eyes.

We lay on the bed for about 10 minutes before the midwife told me the umbilical cord had stopped pulsing and I pushed the placenta out with one easy push and she cut the cord.  An hour later, after Lane had rooted around and already started breastfeeding, she took him and weighed him and checked him.  He was a 40 week old baby, so my due date had just been wildly off (despite measuring spot on all pregnancy.  Imagine if I'd been at an OB, they would have been stressed about my baby's "small" size).   6lbs 13ounces, 21 and 1/4 inches long.  We were home by 6pm.  I had no residual bleeding, Lane was perfectly healthy, I could stand and walk around and I was starving so the midwife checked us out.  My grandma came to pick us up with the car seat in tow.

The whole experience was 11 hours long.

I was so afraid of labor before it happened, but during it,  I had no time to be afraid and all I could do was focus on letting the pain come and go.  I trusted my body and relied on my (Bradley certified) partner, and our natural birth was about as textbook as you can get and one of the most beautiful, fulfilling experiences of my life.

Now go have your own natural birthed babies!!  


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