My husband, Tim, and I took Liza’s Bradley Method Childbirth Class after I heard about it from a co-worker many years ago. It was something I kept in the back of my mind for when I did get pregnant, and we are so glad we made this decision. I knew it would be a good learning experience for my husband, who does not do well around blood. But even as a nurse myself, there was so much we learned about the labor process and beyond!
IS IT TIME TO IGNORE LABOR?
The morning of Friday, October 17, about 2 am, I woke up feeling contractions. They weren’t severe but enough that I kept repositioning in bed. I continued to sleep on and off through them. We were taught in our Bradley class to ignore our early labor. I knew they weren’t severe enough to wake my husband, so I let him sleep. They lasted until 5 am then they stopped. I had a doctor’s appointment that afternoon, 3 days before my due date. I decided to have my cervix checked, and I was 2cm dilated and 50% effaced. I knew that really didn’t mean much though. Though having a cervical check doesn’t really tell you when labor is going to start or how long it will be, it still satisfied my curiosity. Throughout the weekend I continued to do lots of walking with our dog, curb walking, pelvic rocks and sitting on the birthing ball. The contractions came again early Saturday morning, around the same time (2am-5am), and were a little more intense that previously, but nothing that really concerned me.
Are You Full, Or Having Contractions?”
Sunday morning, I felt more irregular contractions as I was cleaning the house, getting ready for my mom to arrive. My mom offered to be with us to help after our baby was born, which I greatly appreciated. She flew into San Diego, from Seattle, Sunday, October 19th, and we picked her up at 3:30 pm. My husband, mother and I stopped at BJ’s in Carlsbad for an early dinner. As we were eating, I kept repositioning in my seat. My mom asked, “Are you uncomfortable because you’re full, or are you having contractions?” I said, “Yeah, I’m having contractions.”We got home that evening, around 7pm, and were all sitting on the couch watching “The Walking Dead,” my husband noticed me repositioning again. They didn’t feel too bad, and I was breathing through them, but my husband wanted to start timing them, and he said it looks like they’re coming more frequently. This was definitely labor!
Stay Home And Take A Shower
Labor became more intense fairly quickly. I took a shower and continued to do some walking. The most comfortable position though, was sitting on the toilet. By 11:00 pm, my contractions were between 30 seconds and 3 minutes apart, and lasted from 30 seconds to 1 minute. I didn’t feel that I was in transition, but I was so uncomfortably comfortable (does that make sense?) on the toilet, I feared that if I continued to stay there I wouldn’t be able to get up. I told my husband to call the hospital to tell them we were coming in. The nurse on the Labor Deck wanted to talk to me, and asked if this was my first baby. When I told her it was, she told me to stay home and take another shower. Ok, fine by me! (We had also learned in Bradley class to take a shower when we’re tempted to go to our birth place) .Realizing this was actually happening, hearing her tell me to stay home, calmed my nerves and reminded me to focus on our training. We went for a short walk outside. Then my husband drew me an Epsom salts bath, which was very relaxing and slowed down my contractions. It was nice being able to relax since we had both been up since early that morning without any sleep.
More intense contractions led to more walking, rocking and the 2-finger belly swipe, “effleurage” (shown by Liza in Bradley class). My mother fell asleep in her room, and Tim fell asleep in the nursery as he was timing contractions. At 1:30 am, as I was sitting on the toilet, my water broke. The contractions immediately became more intense and I felt the urge to push. It took me about 15 minutes to be able to get off the toilet and walk to the nursery to wake Tim. I was very focused, wasn’t talking much (ok, he said I dropped 1 F-bomb), and we both knew it was time to go. Anytime I started tensing up, he reminded me to slow my breathing and that brought me right back to where I needed to be.
9 Centimeters Dilated!
We got to the hospital at 2:15 am, they knew it was my first baby, and the nurse was taking her time preparing to check my cervix. I kept saying, “I have to push!” The nurse said we would just wait for the doctor to check me since my contractions were intense, but in 10 minutes when he still wasn’t there, she went ahead and checked. My cervix was dilated 9 centimeters! I remember her saying, “Ok, let’s get you into a room!”
We’re Going To Get This Baby Out
Bridgette, who was my labor nurse, came in and hooked me up to the fetal monitor. My husband, and awesome coach, asked her if I could keep moving around, and she said yes, as soon as she gets a couple minutes of readings. What helped best during my contractions, as I was sitting up in bed, was when Tim pushed against my feet, to help relieve back pain. My nurse noticed some decelerations on the fetal monitor, so she wanted to keep me hooked up and in bed. I was fine with that. Our nurse read over my birth plan and said, “I see you want to deliver without medication?” I responded, “Yes, but I don’t know why?!” The nurse (who had been a L&D nurse for 28 years) told me in her calm voice that she delivered her 5 babies naturally/un-medicated and was going to help me do so as well. She said, “I’m not going to have you pushing for 2 hours, we’re going to get this baby out.”
With decelerations still happening on the fetal monitor, the nurse had me pushing only every other contraction and laying on my right side. That was the hardest part of the labor, trying to relax while you are experiencing such intensity. Thankfully my husband continued to remind me to slow my breathing and helped me relax (as much as one could). A couple of times, with the combined nervousness, anxiety and excitement, my husband forgot how to count, so luckily my mom was there to remind him.
At 4:45 am October 20th, (my due date), our son Isaac Nash Lawton was born. My husband and I got the best surprise as we didn’t find out our baby’s gender, and my mother got to watch her first grandchild come into this world. Isaac was 7 pounds 2 ounces, 20 inches long and perfection in our eyes. We immediately fell in love with our baby boy.
It’s hard to describe the feeling after childbirth, but one friend who had an un-medicated birth described it as a ‘euphoria.’ The pain was immediately wiped from my memory and I was soon laughing and joking with the doctors, sharing crazy patient stories.