CERTAIN MY BABY WAS ARRIVING EARLY
It was Tuesday and I was 40 weeks pregnant. I was at my appointment with my midwife, Paula, and I was full of disappointment. I had been certain my baby was arriving early. I was hesitant to have a vaginal exam since I knew it couldn’t really tell me when labor would begin, but I decided that checking might put my mind at ease. I knew from my Bradley Method class I needed four pieces of information: dilation, effacement, station, and presentation. Those pieces of information could indicate my body was moving in the right direction. I was hoping I had dilated some but, unfortunately, no dilation.
DON’T WORRY A LOT OF FIRST BABIES ARE LATE
Paula said not to worry. A lot of first babies are late. She suggested I get a couple treatments of acupuncture to help my body get things started. The morning after my first acupuncture appointment, I lost my mucous plug! This was exciting because I knew this meant labor could begin within days. Then a couple of days later, Saturday morning, my bag of waters broke with a steady trickle.
T.A.C.O. – TIME, AMOUNT, COLOR, ODOR
I texted Paula and she asked about TACO. Everything was normal but my contractions were irregular. So I went to get more acupuncture after a shower. I needed to get things moving if I wanted to give birth at Babies in Bloom Birth Center. There are certain guidelines and restrictions and time limits once my water breaks. So I was determined to do whatever I could to encourage my labor to get going!
TO THE BIRTH CENTER…AND RIGHT BACK HOME AGAIN
That afternoon, my contractions were finally consistent, coming 10 minutes apart. We went on a walk, did some curb walking and had a little castor oil in a milkshake. Paula and I spoke at 9 pm. She explained that I would need to go into the birth center at 3 AM to get checked and have a dose of antibiotics. Since my water had broken the chance of infection increases after a certain number of hours. I slept until 2:45 and woke up to light contractions 5 minutes apart so I thought, “Great! I’m progressing! We’ll check into Babies in Bloom!” At the birth center, I was greeted by my midwife, doula, and nurse. I received antibiotics, and Paula checked my progress. Only 2 centimeters – how is that possible? Baby’s heartbeat was good so Gerald and I decided we’d go home to get some sleep.
SO MUCH FOR SLEEP!
Contractions became very intense within the next hour. I labored on the toilet for a while, which was the most comfortable. I got in the shower on all fours. Gerald fed me a pear and reassured me that I was doing great. Around 9:30 we decided it was time to go to the birth center. I struggled to get in the backseat of the car. Let me tell you, if you are comfortable in the car while in labor, it is way too early to leave for your birthplace! That fifteen-minute car ride felt like an eternity. I was breathing and “Ahhhh-ing” and moaning my way to my birth room to be checked before I was admitted. Yay! I was 6 cm dilated!
STRONG CONTRACTIONS IN THE TUB
Several hours went by as I labored in the tub. My contractions were strong and consistent. I was really working hard. I was physically and emotionally leaning on Gerald. Just having him next to me helped me feel at peace. After a few hours, Paula checked my cervix, since my contractions weren’t getting any closer together. My cervix had only dilated to 7 cm, and our baby was occiput posterior with her head cocked instead of coming down straight. Paula told me that she can try to change her position and break my water, with my approval, and labor will progress. If I decide not to, my labor will last a lot longer and may result in a transfer to the hospital.
WE DECIDED TO TRUST OUR MIDWIFE
Knowing the risks: painful repositioning of the baby’s head and body, increased risk of infection from breaking the bag of waters, more intense contractions, we decided to trust Paula. Lying on the bed through a couple of contractions Paula changed baby’s head position internally, and moved her body by pushing on my belly. Ouch! Once she was in position I squatted on the floor to break my bag of waters. I immediately got in the tub on all fours and did pelvic rocking. Things got intense really quickly. I was moaning during every contraction, surprising myself how vocal I was! My doula fed me ice-chips; Gerald praised and encouraged me for all my hard work, and reminded me this hard work was for our baby girl.
CLASSIC SIGN OF TRANSITION! ALMOST DONE!
I relied completely on the women surrounding me who had been through this too. I looked deep into their eyes and swear I was getting strength through them. My midwife reminded me to keep my vocalizing deep and low, and that the toughest part of each contraction was only about 10 seconds. I said, several times, “I can’t do this anymore!” We had learned in our Bradley Method class this was a classic sign of transition. This meant I was almost done with first stage labor.
UNMISTAKABLE URGE TO PUSH
I kept feeling the urge as if I had to go to the bathroom. I wanted to push, but Paula said I needed to avoid pushing until my cervix is completely open. I could not sit in the tub for a second longer so I got out walked and swayed around the room. I tried to go to the bathroom. I lay on the bed. I went to the bathroom again! There was something about sitting on the toilet that eased my pain. Paula checked me again to see if my cervix was fully dilated, since I kept begging to start pushing. I was only 9 cm! I was struggling to get through each contraction. I went back to the toilet while Paula had a conversation with Gerald explaining that she could open my cervix to 10cm if she assisted through a couple of contractions. Gerald asked everyone to leave the room for a moment to have a one on one conversation and help me make a decision. It was very painful when she did the internal exams, but Gerald reassured me I could get through this pain. Paula helped my cervix open to 10 cm during several contractions. It felt like an eternity!
She gave me the go ahead to start pushing as soon as she was done. I squatted on a stool and leaned back on Gerald. When I felt a contraction I pushed with all the strength I had. I used the breathing technique I’d learned in Bradley Method classes and pushed like I would with a bowel movement X 10! I pushed while squatting as long as I had the strength. We could see her head, but my hemorrhoids from pushing were getting very uncomfortable in this position. So my midwife had me get on the bed lying on my side. She applied cold and warm compresses as crowning began. After 50 minutes of pushing Gerald, himself, caught our 8.5 lb. baby girl and placed her on my chest. It was the most amazing feeling! One extraordinary moment removed all traces of the many hours of hard work to bring our baby earth-side. Our beautiful daughter, Ziriya Annick, immediately captured our hearts forever on Sunday, December 4th.