Hello Alex! By Amy Print
Birth Stories - Birth Center Birth Stories
Tuesday, 03 February 2009 08:26
I woke up Thursday morning at 4 am with painful contractions. There was no revelatory "a-ha, now I'm in labor" feeling because I'd been having semi-painful contractions for the past 24 hours and I know the time was near. I hadn't told anyone about this because I'd already had two 'false alarms" and so I was waiting until I was sure labor had started to alert others. I lay in bed and timed a few contractions, they were more than 10 minutes apart, but strong enough to let me know it was time to wake up my husband Kurt. I then took a shower, thinking the whole time that it would be the last shower I took before becoming a mom. Afterwards, Kurt showered and we went for a long walk in the moonlight. The contractions were getting stronger, but were still at least 7 minutes apart. Before we went walking I had called my parents in Houston and told them "red alert!" We left the key to the house under the back door mat and told them to come to the house and wait until we called with the good news. When we got back to the house after our walk I called my sister Megan and she said a Buddhist blessing.

Shortly after this the contractions became intense. I put my arms around Kurt's neck and bent over during each contraction. We called the midwife Shelley and she told us to come in an hour or so. After the next contraction I somehow knew that we had to leave sooner than that, so Kurt called her back to say that we were coming in now. I suddenly felt nauseous and had to run to the bathroom to throw up. We threw everything in the car and started driving to the birth center at about 8 a.m. I had three or four strong contractions during the 20-minute drive, and those were hard because I couldn't get into the physical positions I had found made me feel better. I would just take off my seatbelt and thrash around so much that Kurt was afraid I'd knock the car out of gear.

We pulled up to the birth center and Shelley could tell at a glance that I was in hard labor. Shortly after arriving I had to run to the bathroom to vomit again. She checked me and told me I was 100% effaced and 5 cm dilated. I was disappointed because I had started labor at 70% effaced and 4 cm dilated. I thought I'd already had too much pain to have made so little progress, but she assured me that we were well on the way.

After that events start to get blurry. I threw up again and the contractions got strong. They were still more than five minutes apart and even at the worst time were never more than every 4 minutes. Shelley suggested getting in to the jacuzzi and I agreed. It felt relaxing, but the stories I'd heard of major pain relief weren't true for me. I couldn't relax during the contractions and I stated freaking out (can anyone say Transition?). I felt as if I had to run away from the pain, and had trouble just accepting and going along with it. The few times I was able to really relax and not fight the feelings during a contraction, the pain decreased hugely. If I'd been offered pain drugs at that time I would have taken them, but thankfully they weren't an option so I had a completely unmedicated birth.

Shelley checked me again at my request and found that I had dilated to 9 cm in the half hour since she'd last checked me. She broke my water in order to make sure the liquid was clear, which it was. She pushed back on the lip of the cervix and told me I could push whenever I wanted. About this time, her assistant Terry arrived and tried talking to me, but at this point I just said "shhhhh." Kurt got into a good position in which he was sitting on the edge of the tub with his feet in it with me, I was leaning back between his legs, holding his hands. Before, when the contractions started I would get as low into the water as possible, but now I wanted more support. I was getting very upset because even in between contractions the pain didn't go away, it wasn't as strong but it stayed at maybe 40% strength constantly.

Shelley suggested that I might try lightly pushing during the next contraction just to see if it made me feel better. I didn't want to for awhile and she didn't insist, and she left the room momentarily. During the next contraction I decided to try pushing, and even though I never felt "the overwhelming urge to push," at least it made me feel more active, so I pushed a little. I told Terry "I want to push now" and she got all excited and called Shelley back into the room.

Shelley examined me and said that his head was just inside and he would be born within the hour. During the next two contractions I pushed a little, never a lot, and began to feel an intense burning and stretching feeling. Shelley told me to feel his head coming out, so I put my hand down and felt only a soft, squishy mass. It was clear to me that it couldn't possibly be a baby's head. They told Kurt to feel it, and he asked me if he could have his hand, which I was clutching tightly, I replied "no" because it was a life-line for me.

During the heavy contractions I had moaned, groaned, and yelled. but during the crowning was the only time I screamed. I remember Shelley telling me she liked the little, gentle pushes I was doing, and that with just one more I would have my baby. I pushed and it felt like something gave, and then something large came tumbling out of me and into the water.

I remember just feeling so relieved that he was out of me, and it didn't hurt so much anymore. A wet, blue, crying thing was placed on my stomach, and I asked "What am I supposed to do?" I was assured that I didn't have to do anything. I held him, but was still so inwardly focused that it was hard to connect with what was happening.

I was very fortunate in that my labor was only about six hours from start to finish, and only about two hours were really hard. I didn't tear at all, which I think is thanks to being immersed in warm water. My pushing stage lasted only about 10 minutes. And my beautiful 8-pound baby boy was born completely healthy at 10:20 am.