I started noticing the start of early labor around 3PM on Monday. Contractions were coming about every 15 minutes, and labor continued that way through the evening. Since we had been taught in our Bradley Method classes to ignore labor as long as we could, I went shopping with my mom and a friend. I tried my best not to pay attention or give attention to the tightening of my uterus, because I didn’t want my mom and my friend to notice that I was in early labor. But once we got home, it became hard to hide the fact that our baby was on her way. Once everyone noticed, they decided to get ready to go to the hospital. Of course this drove me crazy! I was trying to stay calm and relaxed like I had learned in Bradley class, and their commotion and activity made staying relaxed impossible. The contractions started getting irregular. What I needed was soothing support in a calm environment, and nervous and excited people were causing my labor to become erratic. Just like we had heard about in our Bradley Method class, the adrenaline surrounding me was rubbing off on me and contractions were slowing down and becoming ineffective.
Around 9:30 PM, I called my doula, Julie Perkins, another Bradley Method teacher, to give her an update. I told her what was going on and I was feeling afraid that it was going to be a long night. She gave me the advice I wanted to hear. It’s what I had been wanting to do but was having trouble telling people. She told me to tell everyone to go to bed. She advised me to get in the bathtub and soak, rest, and calm down. She asked me to call her when I got out of the bath and update her on contractions, emotional signposts, etc.
I spent some time putting my son to bed and, when I got up I had a strong contraction. This one was stronger than any of the previous one’s and it got my attention. Getting rid of all those distractions really was working. From that point forward, even as the bathtub was still filling up, they started coming every 5-6 minutes.
I didn’t stay in the bathtub long because it was hard for me to move through the contractions, and to get comfortable. It didn’t feel that good to me, and I felt the need to call my doula and tell her to come over. All of a sudden, I felt like we were making quick progress. Things were changing. Contractions were coming closer together, and I started really needing Adam’s help to get through this phase of labor. This was another thing we had learned in Bradley Method class, and I knew things were getting more serious and contractions were doing their job.
The doula got to our home around 11:45 PM. Things continued to change and my contractions were already 4 minutes apart and getting stronger. Adam was panicking to head to our birthplace, but we waited for a few more contractions to come. The best relief for me was from the hip squeeze that Adam was doing. Julie was also using her Rebozo, which helped me find more comfort. Things were definitely progressing fast, so it didn’t take long till we decided to go. We still had a good 30-40 minute ride down to La Jolla.
In the car ride, Julie put a cold compress on my back and that really helped. She also wrapped the Rebozo around my waist so that I could pull it myself during the contractions to lift my belly. She also told me to lean forward every time the contractions came. I was grateful that all these tips helped to make the car ride a little more comfortable.
We got to the hospital just before 1AM. I had a couple of contractions just as we were walking up to the room. We were lucky that we actually had a midwife who was on call at La Jolla and was waiting for us there. She measured me as she said, “You’re at 6-7cm and really soft”. I wasn’t sure what to make of that bit of information.
I started getting worried that, at 7 cm, I still had a long way to go. I was a bit discouraged! This was hard work!
I had one more contraction standing up as they put the monitors on me… all was good with the baby. Then they wanted me to lay in bed to put in the IV for antibiotics, since I was Group B Strep positive. I said, “Ok… after this contraction that is coming”… Well, that contraction never went away! I started feeling like I needed to go to the bathroom and in the middle of it my water broke (I could swear I had peed and pooped all over myself!). After that happened, I started feeling the big pressure coming. I kept telling them I needed to go to the bathroom but I couldn’t move. The midwife said, “Are you sure you need to go to the bathroom? Let me check the baby’s head.”… I’m thinking to myself, “Are you crazy? You just told me I’m at 7cm!” But then, as the pressure grew, I reached my hand down and felt her head! She was already coming out! The midwife ran over (I was just leaning on the exercise ball) and one more push, and there she was, born at 1:23AM!
As I lay in bed with her on my chest, still trying to digest what had just happened, I finished signing admission paperwork for the hospital. Since I never had the IV antibiotics, they kept a close eye on her and drew some blood to ensure GBS was not an issue. Thankfully, it wasn’t. We had a healthy baby girl!
It was a wonderful experience-a natural Bradley Method birth!