In honor of my 40th birthday, I’d like to share the story of the birth of my first child, born 4 years ago today.
April 16, 2009. 1pm. I was lying on the bed resting when a warm gush of liquid leaked from me. A hundred thoughts ran through my head at that moment. What the hell just happened?! Did my water just break?! This can’t be…my due date is April 30th! I have 2 weeks to go! Wasn’t the statistic like 80% have their first baby on or past their due date? But wait, I was 2 cm dilated a few days ago, so could this be it? Shoot, I shouldn’t have had sex this morning!
For the next hour, I scoured the internet looking for an answer on whether my water really broke or not. I guess I was in denial about it because the fact was, I wasn’t ready. We had just bought the bassinet last weekend and I had planned on doing more shopping for the baby that day. Slowly, though, it dawned on me that this is it. I called the nurse at the hospital who told me to come in right away. Then I called my doula who told me NOT to go to the hospital yet and to labor at home as long as possible. I called Don who told me he was on his way home.
2pm. After discussing our options, Don and I decided to stay at home for a while instead of going to the hospital. We lay together on the bed for a long time in silence and disbelief. During my whole pregnancy, the due date always seemed a long way off. Now the moment was upon us – and 2 weeks early! We were totally and utterly unprepared, and probably also a little scared. We tried to take a nap in anticipation of a long night, but only got a few minutes of sleep before my parents called (“Why aren’t you going to the hospital?!”).
4pm. I continued to have trickling, and when I went to the bathroom, I saw that I had spotting as well. I knew that this was “true labor”. We packed for the hospital, ate a little, and rested. I spoke to the doula and informed her that we were still at home and that my contractions haven’t started yet.
5pm. Don went to Albertson’s to pick up a few snacks while I jumped in the shower. The contractions started while I was in the shower. They were mild, but I definitely felt them.
6pm. When Don returned from the grocery store, we timed the contractions, but they weren’t consistent. The doula said I could probably wait a little longer at home. I used the toilet A LOT during this time.
8pm. Contractions were getting more intense and closer together. I leaned on the bed and did a side-step while I breathed through the contractions. I pictured the beach in Zanzibar to relax and get my mind off the pain. Soon I was on all fours and could barely talk. Don timed the contractions – I was consistently having 45-second contractions every 2 minutes. He called the doula and told her that we were leaving for the hospital immediately. On the car ride there, I was in the backseat, facing backwards and holding on to the head rest. I don’t remember the ride there at all – I was too focused on my breathing and visualizing the beach.
9pm. We arrived at the hospital and checked in at the front desk. I had to stop and bend over as each contraction came. The receptionist offered me a wheelchair to triage, but I knew that sitting down would hurt, so we walked (waddled) instead. When I told the nurse that my water broke at 1pm and my contractions were now 45 seconds every 2 minutes, she skipped the exam and immediately escorted us to the labor and delivery ward. They set us up in a room and the nurse checked my cervix. I was 6 cm dilated and 100% effaced.
10pm. The nurse hooked me up to an IV (mandatory at the hospital) and had me sign a bunch of papers while laboring on the bed. Even though we informed them that I was going to have a natural birth, I still had to sign an epidural consent form “just in case.” The doula, Cece, arrived shortly after and helped me breathe and pushed on my lower back where I felt intense pain at each contraction. I felt rectal pressure and the urge to push, but Cece told me to “blow” through the pushes. It was difficult to do this because the urge to push was overwhelming and holding it in felt unnatural. She had me sit on the birthing ball, but that was extremely uncomfortable so I moved back onto the bed. Cece suggested I lean up on the bed on my knees to help the baby move down. I swayed my hips during the rest periods while Don fed me ice chips. At this point, the visualization no longer worked – I just had to focus on slow breathing through the contractions. The massage helped with the back pain and a lavender-scented sleep mask helped relax me.
11pm. The nurse and Cece helped me out of bed to use the bathroom. With every contraction, I felt intense pressure and the need to push. The position of sitting on the toilet felt good and the nurse told me that during her labor she spent most of the time on the toilet. I had a few contractions there by myself, and then the nurse wanted me to get back on the bed to check my blood pressure.
When I returned to the bed, Cece could tell that I was having hard contractions, so she suggested that I get in the shower (!). She told the nurse outside, who wanted to check my cervix first. Well, when the nurse checked me, she informed us that I was fully dilated and that the head was “right there”! Now they wanted me to push whenever I felt the urge, which was a tremendous relief. Cece realized later that I was in transition that whole time, but didn’t realize I was progressing so fast which is why she advised me to blow through them.
A flurry of activity commenced. At least 5 nurses and the doctor came into the room. Everyone told me to push, so I hung onto to the rails of the bed, let out a scream, and pushed. Everyone was very encouraging; they told me that was a good push and to do it again. I felt the “ring of fire” but it felt natural to push when my body (and the baby) told me to. After a couple more pushes, the doctor told me to stop because the umbilical cord was wound around the baby’s head. Then the doctor told me to “look down” but I couldn’t because I was in a daze from the pain and pushing and determination to get the baby out. Finally I felt a big release, which I knew were the baby’s shoulders coming out. I heard the nurses say to Don “Do you want to tell her what it is?” Don announced, “It’s a boy!” (we waited to find out the sex of the baby, and it was so worth it.) They then placed the baby, covered in blood and fluid, on my chest. Overwhelmed by emotion, I started to cry.
It was 12:15am on April 17th, 2009, my 36th birthday. I had just received the greatest birthday gift of my life. Happy Birthday to my darling little boy, who brings so much pride and joy and laughter to my life!