The contractions had started and I knew I was finally in labor. I’d planned on spending hours and hours laboring at home before heading to the hospital. Everyone stresses that first time delivery takes a long long time, and the contractions usually start out irregular. My midwifery group told me to call them when the contractions were 5 minutes a part for about an hour. My second contraction came 7 minutes after the first, and only 5 minutes after that was the 3rd contraction. Oh my holy hell they hurt. The pain caused my entire body to tense up and shake as I tried to breath through them. It didn’t look like the contractions were going to slow down anytime soon, so I told Jason to call the midwives.
When we got the phone call back from the midwife on call she was understandably skeptical. Yes, it was my first pregnancy. Yes, I’d only had a handful of contractions. She said she’d be surprised if I was in active labor this quickly but to go ahead and head to the hospital. Shit was getting real. I called my parents and told them we were on our way, so they could make the 3 hour trip from Michigan. Jason sprang into action to get us ready to go.
We’d packed a hospital bag, and that was actually already in the car, but I had thought we’d have several hours laboring at home so the things I wanted to get me through labor were strewn around the house. Jason ran around gathering the heating pad, essential oils and ipod speakers as I sat on a towel heaving through the increasingly frequent contractions. Within 45 minutes of my first contraction we were out the door, down the elevator and into the car.
On the ride to the hospital I learned to focus on getting through each contraction as Jason coached me through breathing while he drove. I was surprised how much my body was shaking uncontrollably through the contractions. I thought that if I wasn’t in the transition phase of labor than that was something I didn’t want to experience.
We got to the hospital and I somehow got myself from the car to the labor and delivery floor. There weren’t any wheelchairs that we noticed so I was shuffling along getting as far as I could between contractions. We finally got to the nurses desk where they checked me in, but somehow didn’t have the pre-registration forms I’d turned into the hospital weeks earlier. If my body hadn’t been hit by another bowling ball of a contraction I would have been annoyed. They tried to weigh me, but I revolted and decided the throw up instead. At least they got me a bucket in time. Those Big Star tacos suddenly didn’t seem like a good idea.
Finally I got into the room and sat in the bed. The nurses asked me all the questions I’d already filled out on the pre-registration forms they didn’t have, and hooked me up to a monitor. Jason hooked up our ipad, got some music playing, made the lighting more aesthetically pleasing and got me water and ice chips like a champ. My midwife, Sherrie, arrived checked on my status. I’d been in labor for just over an hour and I was 8 centimeters dilated.
I had a very lackadaisical birth plan. I always thought of myself as someone with a high pain tolerance, but I wasn’t sure that would mean anything when it came to squeezing a baby out of my body. One of the potential side effects of an epidural is an excruciating headache that can last up to 2 weeks. It only happens to a very small percentage of woman (like 1% or something), but since I’ve suffered from infrequent but severe migraines for a while I worried about having the first 2 weeks of my baby’s life tainted by that horrible pain. So I told myself if the pain of labor outwayed my fear of that unlikely side effect that I would probably get the epidural. Before we got to that point though, I knew wanted to use hydrotherapy by laboring the hospital bath tub.
The nurses got the tub ready and I positioned myself on a labor ball. I began to focus on the contraction monitor. I’d watch the numbers that indicated intensity climb as I tried to breath and grunt and sometimes hold my breath until the numbers started to fall again. When the tub was ready I sank myself into the wonderfully warm water. The relief was immediate, but not total. The contractions were coming right on top of each other, and I was barely getting a chance to catch my breath. Sherrie and Jason took turns coaching me through them. Each telling me I was doing a great job. I focused on getting through the contractions individually knowing each one brought me closer to being done with the pain and meeting my son.
Suddenly I felt a pop within my body. I announced this fact loudly by screaming “Pop! Pop! Pop! Pop!”. Jason was by my side and reacted by flailing and saying “Pull the chord! Pull the chord!”, by which he meant the nurse chord that would bring Sherrie back into the room. To those who ever thought they might not know if their water broke while they were in water I tell you this; you will know.
I immediately felt the urge to start pushing, but first I had to get out of the tub. Sherrie, Jason and two other nurses all helped get me from the tub to the bed. I got myself through the pain by making a noise that came deep from my diaphragm. I don’t think I could replicate it now if I tried. If I had to compare it to something it would probably the sound of a mooing cow. I think it scared Jason a little. I got to the bed and knew we were in the final stretch. There would be no epidural or pain medication. This boy was coming.
One of the benefits to not being hooked up to an IV was that it provided more freedom to move around even as I was pushing. I started on my knees facing the back of the bed, but I continued repositioning myself trying to find someway to be that resembled comfortable. It all happened extremely fast. I felt tightness and burning and stretching and soon Sherrie put on a gown and got ready to catch the baby. There was a moment of trouble as his shoulders got caught and Sherrie thought she might need some help, but then there was a cry. A sweet sweet cry, and my little boy was born. It was 12:45 am. Three hours after my first contraction.
They placed Sebastian on my chest and Sherrie went to work repairing my body. I worried for a moment that it was a dream. It had all happened so fast. Maybe I had actually gone to sleep and would just wake up more pregnant. I stared into his blue eyes, brushed his dark hair, and turned to Jason in awe. I’ve never been more in love with my husband than the moment we created a family.
People talk about the overwhelming love they feel immediately after the baby is born. Others say it doesn’t hit them right away. For me the last month has been full of waves of emotions that are more pure than anything I’ve ever experienced. Euphoric happiness, can be followed by fear and then replaced with immense love. I keep having to remind myself that I’m a mom. I don’t think that will stop anytime soon. Sometimes I have no idea what I’m doing and other times I feel like this is something I was meant to do. Mostly I can’t believe that Sebastian Christopher is finally here.