We had a pretty wild ride before we met our new family member, Merrick. On Thursday February 5th Laura started having contractions, so we started to get excited! Though we knew from our Bradley Method class that the first thing to do is ignore your labor, it’s impossible not to get excited when your first born is on his way! Contractions were really sporadic and were coming at intervals in a range from 5 minutes to 10 minutes apart.

We figured labor was really starting, so we packed the car so that we’d be ready to go when it was time. We also learned in our Bradley class that getting rest was important, especially if labor was long, so we decided to get some rest to prepare. In spite of trying to sleep, the contractions were strong enough to wake Laura up. Needless to say, she didn’t get much sleep that first night.

The next morning Laura was still having the contractions, but nothing was really progressing. Her contractions were not getting stronger, longer, or any closer together. We had learned that would indicate that labor progress and cervical changes were happening. Things just continued this way with not much change, and not much sleep-FOR DAYS!

Fast forward a few days (remember this all began on Thursday!) and Laura was still having similar and fairly regular contractions on Sunday. Although Laura had coped amazingly well, handling each contraction, and coping with little sleep, we were both exhausted. Her labor contractions had been happening 24/7 for almost three days now. Although exhaustion was setting in, we kept a positive outlook and, on the bright side, we had ample time to practice all the relaxation techniques we learned in Bradley class. We were able to find what worked best to help Laura manage the contractions.

After a few days, we called Liza to see if she might know what was going on and she immediately told us we might be having prodromal labor. During prodromal labor the uterus keeps contracting, sometimes starting and stopping, just enough to keep moms from getting sleep or rest, and making everyone on alert waiting for things to really kick in. She also said that the baby’s head was likely in the wrong position. Our baby’s head needed to be right on the cervix with enough pressure to stimulate contractions and open the cervix. That was a possible reason why active labor had not really begun, even though Laura had been having contractions for days. She recommended a few exercises, like the inversions described on the Spinning Babies website. So we did those exercises all evening. Then we tried once again to get sleep.

The next morning on Monday the 9th Laura got up and realized that she finally had some signs of cervical change called “bloody show”. The contractions seemed a bit different but they were still sporadic. We didn’t get our hopes up that today would be different from the previous four. Was this ever going to end? Since we had an appointment with our doctor at noon, we figured that she may be able to assist us in getting Active Labor to kick in. Our doctor decided to do a cervical check and she looked up at us and said that we needed to get to the hospital because Laura was 5 cm dilated!

We were both ecstatic. But we decided to go home and labor with our doula because things were still not to the point where we wanted to go to the hospital. We had learned in Bradley class to look for the emotional sign posts of labor. We knew emotional sign posts were a better indicator of progress than even dilation, and we wanted to wait for the right time to check in at the hospital. We also knew that getting to the hospital in labor can slow things down and prolong labor. After four days, we didn’t need it to be any longer than it already had been!

When we got home we took a nap in preparation for the hard work of labor ahead. But for hours the time between contractions stayed completely random with intervals from 5 to 10 minutes apart and 45 to 90 seconds long. Finally at 7:30 pm we decided to go to the hospital. When we got there we were 6cm dilated (officially Active Labor) so they checked us in and we just walked the halls to get contractions closer together. Pretty quickly, things progressed, and within a few hours, we were at 8cm. Then we hit another stall and the contractions became totally random again and at 5 am we were still at 8cm.
How frustrating!

The nurse and doctor told us that the amniotic sac was still not broken (it usually breaks on its own in active labor) and in fact was probably preventing progress. We decided to allow them to break the bag of waters. It was a good decision because within an hour, Laura’s cervix was finally dilated to 10cm!
She was finally able to start pushing in second stage. 2 hours later at 8:29 am on Tuesday, February 10th, Merrick was born.

It was an extremely tiring and difficult time for Laura, with no sleep for days, but she was an incredible trooper. She was so strong and determined, and was still able to birth our baby completely naturally. Miraculously, Laura even said that she didn’t even feel the contractions the last hour or two after the bag of waters was popped (which was very out of the ordinary, they had warned her they would likely increase tremendously). The doctors and nurses were so supportive and in awe and gave us all the support we could have ever asked for. One of the doctors was so impressed with Laura, that she started asking if we had taken classes and told us she wanted to take Bradley classes to learn more about it. Our doctor and nurse even stayed a few hours after their shift to be there for the birth. It’s not that often that they get to see a natural birth and we were glad to have their support.

Needless to say, we never would have been able to do this if we weren’t informed with the Bradley Method classes and are grateful we took your class Liza and had you to call to get answers on why things were taking so long in the beginning of the labor.

by Sean Horan

Edited by Liza Janda