Special thanks to Meg for sharing her story with us!
What’s in a number?
To summarize – my birth was amazing.
At first I felt guilty telling my story because it’s so rare for things to go ‘as planned’. But a friend told me, I had some struggles getting there, so maybe I deserved to have a great labor and delivery. I’ll start by thanking my husband, Scott, Enlightened Mama, Blooma and North Metro and all of the wonderful, supportive women who work there!
On August 2, at 7 days past my ‘guess date’, I started my morning by going to my 41 week prenatal appt. I had my first cervical check since I was 8 weeks pregnant. I was ‘progressing nicely’, so Kristen suggested we strip the membranes to see if we could get things started. Oh boy did they! Two hours later I was walking through Target debating on going back to work when the contractions started. Of course I wanted to time them, so I downloaded an App called Contraction Timer. It was awesome! (Which is why I am able to definitively tell you how things progressed.) The contractions were about 15 minutes apart for a few hours. I decided to go home and rest. Looking back I think I was in denial that I was really in labor. I was home for about an hour before I got restless and went to the dealership to get coolant added to the car. Then I went to the fancy car wash and got the car washed. During this time Scott called a couple of times, asking if he should come home. Of course, I said no, this could go on for days! (I really didn’t need anyone watching me go through contractions.) But of course I got home at 3pm and he was already there.
Around 7pm we were discussing dinner and I really wanted the spicy burrito from Eli’s. Scott was surprised that I wanted to go out; but I really couldn’t sit at home any longer. Dinner was fantastic; the heat had finally broke (remember it being the hottest summer ever!), so it was a great night to eat outside. By the end of dinner, I was no longer able to speak during the contractions and I was holding the table to get through them. But, of course, I REALLY wanted a cupcake from Lunds, so we stopped over to get one before heading home. And of course that took about an hour because my contractions were less than 10 minutes apart!
Around 10 pm, I decided to see if I could go to bed and get some rest. The contractions were steadily about 8 minutes apart and I started the low-guttural sounds to get through them. That is when Scott started to lose it. He kept asking me if we should have Meg, our doula, come. I said no, I only get her for 24 hours before she could call a back up and I need her for the last 24 hours; not now.
Finally at 1:15am, I told Meg to come; she got there around 1:45. She immediately applied counter-pressure and I thought, ‘oh wow, that feels good. I should have called her two hours ago!’ After two contractions, she told Scott he needed to get the car ready. My contractions were about 2 minutes apart, lasting for a minute. It took some convincing to get me to go; I wanted to be at home for as long as possible. I don’t like hospitals and I didn’t want a bunch of strangers watching me going through contractions. I wanted my bed, my bathroom and my privacy. But we decided to go so we called my midwife and she said she would meet us there.
Everyone said, ‘how do you know when it’s time to go to the hospital? When it takes 30 minutes to get out of the house!’ Yes, indeed! It took 5 minutes just to get down the stairs! I layed down on my side in the backseat and Meg (who is tiny) squatted on the floor in front of me and continued to apply pressue. She is so awesome!
Anyone who has driven on Sheridan Avenue through Linden Hills (in summer of 2012), knows what I am about to talk about. The WORST part of my labor. Having contractions while riding along the ‘pot-hole ridden-uneven-manhole-cover-sorry-excuse-for-a-street’ street. The only time I was upset with my husband was when he was driving down that street. I was about to ask if I could just walk. But after two contractions, it was over.
We arrived at Abbott and made our way to the delivery room. There was no way I was sitting, so a wheel chair was out of the question; so I walked. About 20 minutes later we arrived; and I signed some paper work (how anything I signed mid-contraction was legally binding, is beyond me!)
At 2:45am we were finally in the delivery room. They say that when you are in labor, you aren’t shy. Kristen, my midwife, said ‘we would like to check your cervix.’ So I drop my under-lovelies, right on the floor and hopped up on the bed. I am sure my husband was a little mortified. They checked my cervix, the first time finding out my dilation – I was at 4 cm. Perfect!! I thought that I was about to enter into active labor, which is 5 cm, so I was perfectly happy with that number. But I couldn’t get into the birthing tub until I was 5 cm. (Later, my doula told me that she was really disappointed with that number; she thought there was no way that I wasn’t about to go through Transition.)
I was group-B positive, so I was hooked up to the antibiotics and to the baby monitoring machine. There is always time when laboring mamas aren’t the most coherent and I would say this was my time. The monitoring straps weren’t on very well and I knew that if I moved, they would fall off. In my head, all I could think of was that if I moved, the straps would move, and I would have to start it all over again. So I refused to move for 20 minutes.
Finally, I am free. I stand and my water breaks. Not totally gushing, but definitely a flow of water! Then I have my first urge to push! When someone said it feels like a lot of pressure, they weren’t kidding! It was almost shocking! It literally felt like someone dropped a bowling ball in my uterus. It didn’t hurt, but was just very surprising! Scott was applying counter-pressure and I said ‘stop pushing’ and he looked really scared and said ‘I am sorry!’ I said ‘Not you, Charlotte! Why is she pushing?!’ Kristen said, ‘you are only 4 cm, come sit on the birth ball.’ I said, ‘Heck no, I am not sitting on that thing. You need to check me again!’ So she did, and there I was, magically already at 9 cm! (Yes, this is 30 minutes after being 4 cm!)
Into the birth tub I went – mid contraction, hopping over the side! I really didn’t notice, but I guess the tub was leaking so the floor was pretty wet and there were towels everywhere. I didn’t care, just as long as I could get in! Having spent every night for the past two weeks in our tiny little tub at home, this was very luxurious! I had another urge to push and I didn’t think I could because I was only 9 cm. Resisting the urge was impossible. I really don’t know how women do it. I said ‘I don’t think I can do it (resist the urge to push).’ Then my wonderful, serene midwife said, ‘Just do whatever your body tells you.’ Woot woot, I get to push! During the push I would be in a yogi squat, holding to the side of the tub (thank you Blooma!), then in between, I would float back and lay on my side. Then as the next contraction would build, I would float back into the squat position. About 3 pushes later Kristen said to ‘reach down and see what you feel’. I did and I said ‘ah, I don’t know, it’s all weird.’ Then she said, ‘ok, float onto your back so I can check you.’ I thought this was going to be the most impossible task. I said, ‘I can’t close my legs, I don’t think I can get on my back.’ She was very sweet and said, ‘Oh yes, I am sure you can do it.’ So I did. And she said, ‘Oh and there is her head!’ WHAT?! That’s right, we have crowned. Two more pushes and out she came!! And I said “Oh my god, I just had a baby!” It was the craziest thing ever! Then they gave her to me right away. She hadn’t cried yet, but that is normal for water birth babies. After a minute or so, the cord stopped pulsing and they asked Scott if he wanted to cut it; he politely declined! She was here; I had her! I couldn’t believe it!
But after another minute, she still hadn’t started breathing, so they took her from me to give her a little rub down and some O2. I kept saying, why did they take my baby? Scott was awesome, he went with her to the warming table and was talking to her. And kept telling me, she’s just perfect, don’t worry! But later he told me, he was so scared. She was so purple and wasn’t moving. But then, there it was! Her little scream! Out of the tub I came, delivered the placenta and then I had her back! What happens when your baby comes in 30 minutes? There is no time for stretching…so there is tearing. The first two hours at the hospital were like this: 1 hour labor and delivery and 1 hour getting stitched up. Ugh! I would have added an hour of labor to give back the hour of stitches. It hurt so much when Kristen what assessing the ‘situtation’ that I said “You know, I am sure that I don’t need stitches. I am sure that I will heal fine without them.” Sweet Kristen said, ‘Oh yes, you need them.” Then I countered ‘Well, how about tomorrow? I think we should wait till tomorrow.’ Again sweet Kristen ‘Nope, we need to do them now. You will thank me tomorrow that we did them today.’
Of course I have a naked baby; so half way through the stiches we realize that she and I are covered in meconium. They wanted to take her to clean her up; but I said no. It already happened, we were fine. I was able to hold her and nurse for her first two hours of her life. It was amazing. All in all it was a wonderful experience. We had an amazing nurse to go along with the rest of my amazing birth team. I will say that being ‘Enlightened’ and knowing my choices and trusting my birth team, but all the difference in the world.
Want to share your story with us? Email us: info (at) enlightenedmama (dot) com.