The Day My Daughter Was Born – Part 1

My birth story is pretty long, so I’m going to post it in a couple of entries. I changed some names to protect privacy.

My labor started at 4am on 1-11-2010 – two days passed my supposed due date. I had eaten some take-and-bake pizza the night before, and when I woke up I thought it had upset my stomach. I was nauseous and my stomach felt crampy (kind of like before I get my period). It didn’t take long for me to realize that the cramping was something completely different than indigestion. I tried falling back asleep, but wasn’t able too – mostly because of the excitement I was feeling. I didn’t wake my husband, Steven, yet. I wanted to make sure it was the real thing and didn’t want to jinx myself. I got up and played on the computer while my husband continued to sleep. I continued feeling nauseous off and on and I vaguely remember making trips to the toilet, thinking I had to throw up, but only did so once. I also tried taking a shower after the contractions had been going for a couple hours, just to see if the contractions would stick around. In a lot of the birth stories I had read, the women did this as a way to tell if it was false labor or not, so I tried it too. The contractions felt less intense in the shower, but they were still there. The contractions were around 10 minutes apart and lasted about 30-45 seconds through this entire time.

After my shower, I laid down again for lack of anything better to do, even though I was too keyed up to sleep. Steven woke up and said something about not wanting to go to work that afternoon. I said something to the effect of, “Well, you may not have to.” He didn’t act as excited as I thought he would, which was disappointing me to, but I later found out he was actually REALLY excited, just tried not to get worked up in case it was false labor. He fell back asleep.
Finally, around 9am, Steven got up and we called our doula, Rey, to let her know that my labor had started. By the time we called Rey, the contractions were about 5 minutes apart and lasting a minute. This lasted for quite some time. I remember thinking I must be pretty far along, even though the contractions weren’t as strong as I expected, because the contractions were so close together (practically every book I had read will tell you to head to the hospital when your contractions are 5 minutes apart and lasting 45-60 seconds). I also called my boss to let her know that I wouldn’t be coming in to work that day, unless of course it turned out to be false labor (I still didn’t want to jinx myself). I really didn’t want to get myself too excited only to have the contractions stop, but by then I was pretty sure my labor had started for real.

Around 10am, I called our midwife, Layla, just to give her a heads up since she had an hour and a half drive. She acted quite normal (I think I wanted her to be excited – mostly, I think, to validate that it wouldn’t be much longer, like I thought – or to give me explicit instructions) and just told me to call her later on. My friend and I had just talked the other day about how neat it would be to have a baby on 01-11-10. I figured I’d have my baby in my arms by that evening. I remember thinking that somewhere I’d read that an average labor was around 12 hours, so if I started labor at 4am, I thought I should have a baby before 8pm that night.

At some point I got into the bath tub, but I’m not sure what time it was. I didn’t really pay attention to the clock at all during my labor. My contractions were around 2-3 minutes apart by that point. I began texting my doula around noon. I didn’t feel like talking on the phone, but wanted to update her on what was going on since it had been three hours since I’d last spoken with her. Apparently my phone had soaked up some water from the wash cloth it was sitting on (which had unintentionally gotten wet) and it quit working. Steven called Rey at 12:30pm and they decided it was time for her to come over so she could help assess how far along my labor was.

I was still in the tub when Rey arrived at 1pm. Steven got in with me a few minutes later. I was still feeling nauseous off and on, so Rey would hand me my Preggie Pop Drops when I needed them. Also, I discovered cold washcloths felt great! I don’t remember this very well, but according to my doula’s timeline, I got out of the tub to look for something to eat. I vaguely remember yelling at one of our dogs because he was annoying me. Then I returned to the tub.

At 2:30pm, I decide to get out to see if a position change would help my contractions become stronger. We decided to watch a movie. I let Steven pick with the stipulation that it wasn’t full of fighting or loud scenes. He put in the movie Ice Age. I started out sitting on my birth ball, but soon moved to my knees while resting my upper body on the ball. I was starting to have to work through the contractions at this point. When Ice Age was over, Steven put in Pirates of the Caribbean while I continued used the birth ball to relax between and during contractions. I remember thinking at one point that the midwife would be there in two hours, so I just had to make it through one more movie and then she would be there and I could have my baby soon after. Looking back, I think my calculations were off and of course I shouldn’t have been trying to put time restraints on my labor, but at the time it made sense. It wouldn’t be much longer, I thought.

Around 5:45pm, Steven and I got into the bath tub again. Still experiencing nausea. I had been getting nourishment (when the nausea lagged) from eating some saltines and drinking protein shakes and raspberry leaf tea mixed with apple juice. The contractions were less intense there and it felt nice to relax. I don’t remember too much about the midwife’s arrival. According to the timeline my doula was keeping, it was at 7:05pm. I do know that the contractions were becoming more intense and it was taking more concentration to get through them. Every time a contraction came, I got on my hands and knees, leaned my head on Steven’s shoulder and swayed my hips. I made lots of low moaning noises too – I couldn’t help it. When the contraction subsided, I would sit back down in the tub. I swore I was on the edge of transition and was excited by the prospect. I wondered if it was possible to be aware of transition, or if I was just close to it, since I thought I recognized its signs. Either way, I thought that it couldn’t be much longer, since I was feeling discouraged and very tired. But things didn’t keep progressing. I could feel it and even told my midwife that very thing. When we were planning for the labor, I had told Steven to tell me that it wouldn’t be much longer when I reached transition. And considering he’d said that a couple times, I knew he thought I was close to that point as well. But by the third or fourth time he’d said, “It won’t be much longer,” I really just wanted to punch him because I knew it wasn’t true and I was tired of hearing it. I could just instinctively feel that things weren’t progressing.

Stay tuned for Part 2!

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