By Katie C., Mother ~
This is the birth story of our son, Damian. I had my 39 week appointment with Callie on the afternoon of June 29th. I told her I was eager for labor to start and asked her to see if I was dilated at all yet (even though I knew that my dilation and effacement would not tell me when I was going into labor). She checked me, and I was 1 centimeter dilated and about 70% effaced. My husband, Mike, told me not to get too excited, because we might still have weeks to wait. But later that evening, around 8pm, I lost my mucus plug and had bloody show within an hour or so. I was pumped and went for a long wal
At about 11 pm that night my labor began with contractions coming every six minutes. I tried to sleep through them because I knew I’d need my energy, but the pain and excitement didn’t let me. I called Del Mar at 3 am and spoke to Margo. She encouraged me to rest and relax and let labor take it’s course. I woke Mike up and he helped encourage me through the contractions. We were really savoring the excitement of our anticipated first meeting with our little boy.
Mike went to work around 6 am so that he could wrap up loose ends before his paternity leave. I spent the morning sitting on the couch (laying down was uncomfortable!) and breathing through the contractions. When he came home at 11 am, I told him he was just in time, because it was getting more intense. We played a couple games of Trivial Pursuit, pausing for each contraction, until finally I needed to get up and move. I walked around and tried different positions for the contractions, and suddenly I had one that brought me to my knees. I burst into tears, partly from the shock of the pain and partly from all the emotion that this birth was actually happening!
After that, I spent most of the contractions on my knees. Mike was in contact with Hayley, and she encouraged me to lay on my sides and to take a shower. I really didn’t want to move around and didn’t want to get in any other positions, because it seemed to hurt more, but I tried.
By evening on the 30th, I felt like I had to have made a lot of progress. It had been almost 24 hours since the first contraction, and now the contractions were coming less than 4 minutes apart – and they were intense! At 10:15pm, I knelt on the floor of the front seat and moaned through contractions on our drive to Del Mar. At the birth center, we found out I was only dilated 4 cm, much to my surprise. Hayley encouraged us to go home walk around, do some lunges and half on the curb/half off the curb steps to bring the baby down more.
Back at home, we tried to rest, but it was really hard. When the contractions had increased in intensity even more, we came back to the birth center again at 4:25 am. I was only dilated a little over 5 cm at that point, so we were sent home to rest again. At that point, Mike and I were both completely exhausted, and I was questioning whether or not I could make it. I was afraid that the baby was not in the right position and wouldn’t come out. I was afraid that I was going to go through all those hours of labor and still have to be transferred to the hospital. I was afraid that I wouldn’t have the strength and energy to push the baby out when the time finally came. And I was afraid that if I was in labor for that many hours trying to get to 6 cm, that I would be in labor just as long to get to 10 centimeters. Fortunately, Hayley knew we went to the Embodica birth class, so she said we were just at another turn in the labyrinth and that we were going to make it. The baby was going to come out. That was exactly what I needed to hear that morning, after 30 hours of labor.
At home, Mike went to sleep. I took Benadryl and had a glass of wine (per midwife orders) and also tried to sleep. The contractions kept coming, but I did sleep between them, even if it was only for a few minutes at a time. When Mike got up, he made me some oatmeal because he and I both knew I needed the strength. However, it was hard to get very much down. I also drank the castor oil smoothie that Hayley had sent with us. I spent the day sitting on the floor between Mike’s knees having contractions and trying to sleep in between them. It was a long day. At this point, he was in contact with Callie, and she encouraged me to get in the shower. That didn’t lessen the contractions, but it felt good.
Finally, we went back to the birth center around 2 pm. Erin checked me, and I was at a 6, so we could stay. Erin told me to let go of everything and to stop trying to control my labor.
She said nature was in control, and I needed to let it be. Her and Callie were there to help and monitor it, so I didn’t need to worry. This really helped my mental state, and I turned my focus inward to just opening up and letting my body do what it was doing. I got in the tub soon after we arrived, and that really made the labor feel more tolerable. Callie and Erin made things very comfortable, giving me a lavender wash cloth, coconut water, and almonds. Mike sat next to me encouraging me the whole time, and I finally felt like I was going to be able to do it. I felt really at ease and had renewed strength from the nourishment.
A couple hours later, my water broke, and it was clear, which was another huge relief for me. Erin checked me and I was about 8 centimeters dilated then. I was having a really strong urge to push, and for each contraction her and Mike supported me to resist pushing. I did the horse lips, but it was so hard to not bear down (as doing so prematurely could cause the cervix to swell). When I got back in the tub, Erin encouraged us to put on some music to help pick up the pace. Everything seemed to go so quickly after my water broke. It wasn’t long before she was checking me in the tub, and she said that she could push back the last lip of my cervix over his head.
Pushing was the best feeling! I felt so strong, like I had all the power of all the women who had ever given birth before me helping me push. After the first contraction, Callie said I had birthed the hair. I was so surprised when I reached down and felt his soft head. We weren’t expecting any hair. On the next contraction, Erin had me pause for a minute so she could take the cord from around his neck. One the following contraction, he was out, and she handed him up to me. I put him up on my shoulder, and he immediately lifted his head and looked at me and Mike. It was amazing how alert he was, and we were overjoyed to meet him 44 hours after the adventure of labor began.
I pushed out the placenta in the tub quickly, while Mike and I marveled at our new son. After that, we all moved to the bed, Erin gave me a couple quick stitches. Callie, Erin and the nurses took excellent care of us and closely monitored our vitals while we all bonded and the baby breastfed.
Suddenly the incredibly long process that got us there seemed blurry and like it wasn’t that long at all. I felt like I had just conquered the world and received the best prize I could imagine for it!
I am so thankful for Del Mar and all of their support throughout the pregnancy. I am also thankful for my husband and the team of bad ass women who believed in me, and who believe in all women, and their ability to give birth naturally.