Lee and I were ready for Owen to come any day after week 37. That was “full term” and the cutoff to have a natural birth at The Birthing Center. 37 weeks comes and goes, and I am still working full time, 5 days a week. I’m ready for him! 38 weeks, we did our own version of “nesting” by making a HUGE Costco run on Sunday March 3rd for some easy dinners because I decide not to cook any during week 39. I worked a full day Monday March 4th. After dinner and getting our daughter to bed, I took a bath for an hour, soaking in the tub, and we have sex for what felt like was going to be the last in a while. That must have done the trick! Tuesday March 5th, I had the morning off work- no scheduled patients until 12pm, and was planning on having a relaxing time to sleep in and maybe get my nails done. Little did I know…
6:35am: Lee woke up to get our daughter ready for school, and I was semi-awake in the early morning darkness. I coughed, felt a “pop” and a little fluid leak out. I stood up to go to the bathroom, and realized, no I didn’t pee on myself, but my water had broken. I laid back down, thinking this was finally the start we had been waiting for. I felt a sudden deep pain, right as I pulled up the covers. This was my first contraction. I hadn’t experienced what I would even consider Braxton Hicks up until now, but this certainly felt like a foreign pain to me and deeper and sharper than any “period cramps” I had experienced in my life. I closed my eyes to fall back asleep, thinking I had a long day of labor ahead of me. Another pain came. Shortly, Lee popped his head back in the bedroom to tell me he was leaving for the car line, and I told him I had already had 5 contractions, to please hurry back.
7:35am: my mucous plug came out. I turned on the hot water and stood in the shower, but stayed in for less than 10 minutes because I was so uncomfortable with contractions, still coming regularly. I decided to start timing contractions on my phone app, and they were variable, but overall about a minute duration, between 50 seconds – 1 min 40 sec apart.
8:00am: Lee had made it back home and I made my way to the ottoman of the glider in our bedroom and sat on it sideways, rocking back and forth and timing contractions. Lee called the midwife who told us to come in around 11am to get checked. Meanwhile, I kept timing contractions and trying to breathe into them, counting rhythmically 1, 2, 3, 4….1, 2, 3, 4. By looking at the timer, I realized the peak of the wave was around the 20-30 second mark, and if I could make it until then, I would be on the downward slide of the contraction and getting relief. Lee sat behind me and rubbed my low back, which helped distract me from the pain some. However, it worried both us that contractions were coming 49 seconds apart… 38 seconds apart… 1 minute 5 seconds… I wasn’t getting any time really to stand or move around or recover from the pain in between, which felt intense to me and sharp instead of “pressure waves.” I called my mom to let her know today would likely be birth day and she should go ahead and come to our house. She noted the worry in my voice and encouraged me to call the midwife back. Lee called the midwife again and put her on speaker phone this time. I think she heard the pain I was in, and she was surprised that my contractions were still coming so regularly, so quick for a first pregnancy. It was around 8:15am and she told us to come on in to the office for me to be checked.
It took us (well, Lee) a half hour to scramble around the house and put last minute items in our bag- phone chargers and snacks and drinks and get the dog taken care of. I was feeling hot flashes so he got me a bowl of ice, and I had a cool washcloth on my face and I found it comforting to hold an ice cube in each hand during a contraction. I had kept up my counting on the phone and trying to breathe through the intense pain. I remember saying to Lee “wasn’t the plan to have time to take a walk and go to Chick-fil-a or watch a movie or something in early labor”? Baby wasn’t going to wait.
I remember the drive vividly from our house to the birth center. It was cold but sunny day, and Lee was nervous driving me there. He’s normally a very cautious driver, but feeling the pressure of quick contractions (and our fellow birthing classmates having THEIR baby in the car) made him a little more speedy and we got there in 20 minutes. I had to stop 3 times walking in from the car to have a contraction, and the nurse ushered me to a room and got me undressed for the midwife to check. It was 10am I was 4.5cm dilated and 100% effaced, but since my contractions still were coming rapidly, she ushered me right down the elevator into the Birthing Center. We set up in the Poinsett Room, and I immediately felt so much relief that we were in good hands and finally at our destination for baby’s arrival. My mom had arrived from Spartanburg just as we got into the room.
I got in the tub pretty quickly and reclined, but wasn’t really able to feel comfortable. I finally sat frog-legged leaning over the side, holding onto Lee’s hands, and my mom rubbed my back. She played some soft music, but when “colors of the wind” came on, we turned it off and just sat in silence. The lights were low and I just kept counting, and saying “la la la la la” and “open, open”, and did my pursed lips breathing. I was trying to imagine my cervix opening up. I got out, tried an all fours position on the bed, but again, felt more comfortable in the tub, so I went back in.
12:40pm: I got out of the tub to be checked and was found to be 9.5cm, with just a lip of cervix. 30 minutes later, the nurse encouraged me to move around some more, that moving the pelvis would help. I labored on the 2 step stool for a short bit, and then moved to the toilet, straddling it backwards. I had my head resting on a pillow, and the nurse rubbed some peppermint oil on my back and I felt very soothed. This did give me some comfort and I felt finally able to relax in between a contraction. I stayed there for an hour and contractions did slow a little.
1:45pm: I could feel him lower down now, still on the toilet, and I reached underneath me. I felt a part of his head! This gave me so much encouragement that the end was nearing. I felt like I was ready to really push, so everyone helped me up on the bed. I got up on the bed again and sat in a yoga pose almost like child’s pose. I felt like I could give the most effort pushing this way. Almost 30 minutes passed this way. I had my face buried in the pillow and felt the “ring of fire” everyone mentions at the end. He would push his head down, and then it would slide back in. I felt frustrated because I thought each time, it would be it.
2:15pm: The midwife suggested I turn over, and Lee got behind me against the headboard. I sat in Lee’s lap and had a several more back to back contractions. I kept holding pressure between contractions so he wouldn’t retreat any.
2:35pm: Baby arrives! He immediately was brought to my chest and Lee got to cut the cord. We had a sweet time of skin to skin and then he got his measurements done. 7 lbs 10oz and 19.5 inches. We left the Birthing Center at 8:35pm, excited to start the chapter of being Owen’s parents!