Ignore Your Labor and Your Pre-Labor!
By early February Pre-labor contractions began getting strong enough to regularly awaken me at night. I would time them for a while and then decide to ignore them and go back to sleep. “Ignore your labor” is what we had been taught in our Bradley Method class, but I had a history of fast labors, so I wanted to be sure. My midwife suggested checking me at our Feb 9th appointment. I wasn’t at all dilated. Even though, logically, I knew dilation meant nothing, it was still discouraging to me.
My Due Date Came….And Went..But Then..Yay! Labor Day!
I watched my due date come and go. Six days later, February 20th, I experienced a contraction around 7:45 am that was sharp and took my breath away. I waited until just after 8 am to tell Tom that today was likely ‘labor day’. Still, I insisted on personally driving the kids to school.
At 8:30 am, as I drove to Emma’s school, I thought, “This wasn’t a great idea.” A couple of contractions later, I was in Noah’s classroom at 8:55 am. Contractions were about 6-8 minutes apart and over a minute. On the way out of the school, a very observant young boy looked at me with shock in his eyes and shouted, “Are you having a baby?” The school office staff cracked up and I replied, “Yes, I am going home right now to have this baby.” But, then my very eager two year old, Zoe, reminded me that she was SO excited to go visit a preschool we were scheduled to see that morning. Preventing a royal tantrum, I drove to the preschool. I got through a contraction in the parking lot, hurried into the school and informed them that I was in labor so we’d need to make this visit fast. I managed to semi-gracefully breathe through a couple of contractions and return to the car for just one more before I headed home.
So Glad To See My Doula Waiting For Me
I pulled into my driveway about 9:35am and was so glad to see my doula waiting there! My midwife, Marianne, showed up within 15 minutes. We all chatted a bit, folded laundry, and ate breakfast. Then a couple of contractions brought me to my knees. When they were over, I went right back to folding. I really wanted to ‘ignore’ the labor as long as possible.
By 10:30 am, I realized that both my midwife and doula were up in my bedroom preparing for the birth, so my husband and I joined them. We prayed together, though my own contractions were so intense that I was unable to speak. By 10:45am my midwife and doula recommended I get into the bathtub to manage the contractions that were 3-5 minutes apart. It was incredibly soothing.
By 11:15 they recommended I have a friend get the children from school. We wanted them there for the birth. Tom asked what he could do to help me though I could rarely give him a good, clear answer. I have to credit Bradley Method classes for giving him a sense of calm. My children arrived by noon and their presence was sweet.
I’m Smiling, Making Jokes, And Laughing With My Family, And I’m In Labor!
At first, when I saw my 2yr old come in, an intense contraction stopped immediately. It was amazing to experience how quickly the body responds to inhibition in labor! But, after she and my other children had been there for a couple minutes, contractions continued and seemed more bearable when I would hear laughter and find myself smiling and laughing along. By this time I asked Tom to just ‘be’ with me, because it was all so intense. Yet, between those contractions, it always amazed me how great I felt, to the point of making jokes and wiggling my body to ‘help’ move the baby down. Tom tried all kinds of techniques to soothe me, but none worked. Even a gentle touch on my ribs strangely made me feel like I couldn’t take a deep breath. Kind words of encouragement during contractions just led to me shushing people as I tried to breathe.
“Fear Not, For I Am With You.”
What did help immensely was knowing that people were there for me, having Tom’s hand to hold (and squeeze really hard when I needed to; poor guy!), and hearing Scripture being read, which shocked me because I found any other talking irritating. At one point, during a tough contraction, I blurted out, “Read it again!” It was Isaiah 41:10 “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” It was such a comfort.
“Hurry, Look At THIS!”
I felt my baby girl coming down and the intensity of contractions became so intense it would overwhelm me to the point of thinking I was going to choke. An intense contraction caused a strange pressure. It was a big bubble of my sack of waters that bulged out like a balloon and soon burst into the tub. It made me laugh & tell everyone, “Hurry, look at THIS!” It was fascinating.
Baby Halle required hard work to push her out. I would push and feel her crowning, having my hand on her head. And I would push again with all my might to be shocked that I’d not yet delivered a whole head. And again. And again. Her head was slowly being delivered and I was having to employ my Bradley Method panting and breathing, as for the first time in my three births I briefly experienced ‘the ring of fire’, and said “I just want her out!” I would reach down and feel progress – the soft little top of her head and her hair– and push with all my might. My midwife later told me that she felt Halle’s hand up against her face and this is likely what required more pushing than I was used to in order to deliver her head.
The World Outside Of Me Hardly Existed
Tom was helping support me by sitting on the side of the tub with his arms bracing me under my armpits, slightly pulling me up as I would bear down. Emma and Zoe watched and waited very quietly. Once Halle’s head was born, I had to push a couple more times to deliver her little body. My eyes were either closed or I was quite spaced out, because so much of pushing is a blur; The world outside of me hardly existed. When Halle finally emerged at 1:04 pm, Marianne pulled her up from the water and put her onto my chest. She immediately cried out. It was amazing. I sat in the tub with her for at least 30 minutes and didn’t want to hand her off to anyone. I put her to the breast and she rooted and started nursing right away. The water was strangely full of vernix like I’d never seen before, though Halle wasn’t really that covered in it. It was fascinating to see and feel this amazing, protective baby coating. The placenta came with some effort about 40 minutes after the birth. We all began to settle in, got comfortable in bed, ate food cooked by a dear friend who came to help, took some pictures and watched Halle have her little first baby exam on our bed. She weighed 8lbs 4oz and was 21inches long. Her siblings are all madly in love with her. Our Halle Eden is a sweet blessing and I’m so grateful to God for another healthy delivery.
Written by Jill Winenger
Edited by Liza Janda