I know I’ve written about Cole’s birth before, but the Birth Story Carnival is on (um- was on. I’m a couple of days late. I wrote it on the 24th, but didn’t get a chance to post until today), and I’ve decided to write about it again from my perspective of nearly 2.5 years later.
The night of Cole’s due date, John and I celebrated our 9th anniversary. We went to a nice restaurant and had a lovely dinner. I got lots of stares when I walked through the place. I must have been huge. I remember feeling really good.
The next morning, I went to work, as usual. I requested a meeting with my boss, having just gotten up the guts to ask for 2 more weeks off for maternity leave (I had been given 6, I wanted at least 8. Well, I wanted a lot MORE than 8, but we just couldn’t afford it). I sat at my desk while waiting for him to get off the phone and started to feel… weird. Anxious. Squirrelly.
I went into the meeting and the extra 2 weeks were agreed upon without effort. Then, I suddenly found myself telling him that I would like to start my leave that day, as soon as the meeting was over. He laughed and said “We expected you to leave a week ago!” I thanked him, cleaned up my desk, said goodbye to my ladies, and went home at about 10am.
When I got home, all I wanted was to sit upstairs in front of my window in my rocking chair. I had hardly touched this chair since I put it together a few months before. It had been a present for my baby shower. But now it was all I wanted. I read like I hadn’t been able to read in months (reading made me VERY sleepy). I rocked and read and rubbed my belly, until I realized that I was rubbing my belly because it was achy.
The contractions started very slowly. It was nice, because I was able to sort of ease into labor. At first I figured it was just Braxton-Hicks, but they kept, by small degrees, getting stronger and closer together. I was breathing easily through each one. I called my midwives when the crampy feeling was as strong as the worst period cramps I had ever had. They advised me to call again when I couldn’t talk through the contractions.
I waited and waited as the contractions kept getting closer and closer. Each time, I would do a “talk-test,” and I passed each time. At about 4pm, I had had enough waiting. I knew that the drive to the Midwife Center was not great at the best of times, but that it would only get worse after 4:30 when rush-hour would start. I called and said I was coming in. I figured that, even if they sent me home again, it would kill some time.
We gathered our stuff and got in the car. John, at that time, didn’t drive. Not a bit. I don’t think he had really driven since we had moved to Pittsburgh. The drive to the Center had a really tricky merge, and we had meant to do a few practice runs with him driving, but just never had. It just happened that I was in the middle of the worst contraction so far, not to mention 9 months pregnant and practically immobilized by my huge midsection, just when we hit that merge and John asked “are there any cars coming?” To answer, I would have had to turn my whole body and smoosh my face against the window to try to catch a glimpse of the speeding cars, something I was just physically unable to do at that moment. I know he was pissed when I told him that I couldn’t help him, which made me want to punch him, but there was nothing I could do.
We made it to the Center just fine. We got settled into a room after a check showed that I was coming along, though I wasn’t far (can’t remember- just “not that far”). Pretty shortly after that, I got in the bath.
OH! The HEAVEN of the bath! It was so wonderful. I was still breathing and talking through my contractions, and the nurses and my Midwife were telling me what a champ I was.
But then, I just sort of stayed there.
They started whispering amongst themselves about how long they should let me go before moving me to a hospital to speed things up. I remember wanting to cry at the thought of leaving that beautiful room and the wonderful bath to go to the awful, stinky hospital. ANY awful, stinky hospital! I was just so blissful there in the bath, with John pouring water over my belly.
When my doula got there, I got out of the bath for a while to try to speed things up. It worked, but not as well as they wanted, so they asked if they could break the bag of waters. They explained that some people felt it was good luck for a baby to be born with the bag intact, but I felt like it was better luck for the baby to be BORN, so yes- break the effing bag!
That’s when things got fun.
They had me labor in the bad for a while until the Midwife felt that Cole was face up instead of face down like he should be. Back in the bath I went, but on my hands and knees this time to try to get him to turn. When I was too wasted to do that anymore, I went back to the bed.
Suddenly, I HAD to go to the bathroom. My doula sat next to me the whole time. That woman is STONE, I tell you. She’s certainly stronger than I.
When I was empty, I knew things had changed. The only thing I wanted in the whole world was to push. They had me try pushing while sitting on a ball, and then in a couple of other positions, but I just didn’t have the strength to hold myself up and push any more. It was going nowhere.
I went back to the bed and had John sit behind me. My midwife helped me focus on the place where I should concentrate my pushing, but I was having trouble. Finally, against my initial wishes, she brought out a mirror and had me watch what my pushing was accomplishing.
It was amazing. Now, each time I pushed I could see a little fuzz-covered head coming that much closer. I reached down and touched Cole’s head for the first time. It was so strange to touch this warm little being that was still a part of me but not a part of me.
Shortly after, Cole was born at 10:45pm. The only thing I could say as they eased him out and showed me was “No way! No way!” They laughed at me and said “Uh- YES WAY!”
He came out face up with his hand covering his nose. The nurses laughed that he was the vainest baby they’d ever seen- because his hand had covered it, he had a perfect nose from the start. Usually, vaginally-born babies have a serious case of squish-nose for a while, but not Cole. Of course, it also meant that he had torn me somethin’ fierce.
They tried to set Cole up on my chest when he came out, but he had a short umbilical cord. In my birth plan, I had asked that the cord not be cut until it stopped pulsing, so we waited a while with Cole on my belly. When it was time, John cut the cord and Cole was in my arms.
They put him on the bed next to me from time to time to do his tests, all of which he passed beautifully. The rest of the time, he was in my arms.
They called in a Midwife with more trauma experience to stitch me up. They said that it would take a while, and that they couldn’t give me much for the pain, but the only other alternative was to go to the hospital. I told them that going to the hospital sounded more painful than anything they could do to me, and to bring it on.
I had my feet up on the arms of a rocking chair for a couple of hours while she stitched. I was told it looked like a grim smiley face when she was done. I’m still glad I never went to the hospital.
The whole time, I was allowed to have Cole in my arms. That was as much pain-killer as I needed.
We sat in bed together, all three of us, and had breakfast. We slept. We tried to nurse. I wanted to go home. The nursing was the problem, I was told. Cole still hadn’t latched on or nursed properly. I kept feeling like we both just needed a good long rest and that the nursing would come in time. They kept trying to force the issue. This part was the only bad thing about the whole experience.
Finally, I convinced the
m that we would keep trying at home and that I would get help if there was no improvement by my follow-up visit at home the next day.
They let us go.
I remember putting Cole in his carseat and feeling like he was a little doll.
We got home and, as I suspected, he latched on fine after we both got some sleep.
So there it is (again): my totally drug-free birth experience.
The one thing that I always try to stress to pregnant women who ask is that the ONLY actual pain that I experienced was one tiny moment when Cole crowned and I yelped a little bit. The rest I never felt as pain. Intense, incredible pressure, sure; but NEVER pain. I never felt fear and I was able to focus on the movement of my body and my muscles as they coordinated to push Cole out. It was incredible. I didn’t need to yell or curse. I didn’t cry or try to give up. I was powerful and doing something I felt like my body was meant to do. I’d never felt stronger in my whole life than I did that day. I know that not everybody wants to, or can, do a drug-free birth, but I’d do it again without hesitation.