On the morning of my 30th birthday, I woke up and I felt a little different. Rigel and I decided to go out for lunch and do a few errands on the way. While Rigel was in the store at our first stop, I noticed some very distinct tightening on my belly. I was 40 weeks and 6 days pregnant, so I had been hoping for this for several weeks, but it didn’t seem real at first. I watched the clock and the tightening was happening every 6-7 min.
We canceled our lunch plans, but decided stop at the grocery store to pick up a few things – after all most labors last a while, so I thought we had time. As we walked into the store I realized that the surges were more intense and I didn’t think the grocery store was a good idea anymore.
We arrived home and called our doula, Megan. On her recommendation, we laid down in bed and started to listen to our relaxation track. Not far into it, I had to get up. I felt wet between my legs, restless, and all I wanted to do was sit on the toilet. So that’s where I sat. Rigel asked several questions, called Megan again, and was trying to figure out what to do- go to the hospital or labor at home longer? I’m usually very on top of things, but at that point I felt as though I was transported to another place altogether and I wasn’t any help with the decision-making. I wasn’t in my bathroom, I wasn’t in the hospital, I was in Labor. It felt like another place, another state of being.
This is where the real world gets fuzzy for me. Rigel got us to the hospital, brought the bags, checked in, and got us to the right birthing room. I remember feeling a little put out that they didn’t offer me a wheel chair when we checked in. I would have declined, but I wanted the option at least.
In the hospital room, I immediately went to the toilet again. It just seemed like the place to be. Rigel and Megan got warm washcloths and my water bottle for me. I felt safe and calm as each surge came and went. I had to move to the bed while the nurses monitored William’s heartbeat for a bit and hooked up my IV for group B strep meds (a pretty routine thing). It was kind of irritating, but not a big deal. I was still in that transformative state of Labor where I wasn’t paying much attention to the people around me. I wanted to get back to the toilet. Or better yet, into the birthing tub that they were filling.
As I lowered into the warm water of the birthing tub, I felt my whole body relax. This was the perfect place to be. Rigel was holding my hand and Megan was putting lavender-scented cool washcloths on my forehead. I was relaxed and breathing into each surge. It felt like a spa treatment. People waiting on me while I sat back and relaxed, letting my body do the work.
At some point I felt the urge to push and started breathing and nudging my baby down and out. Someone asked if I wanted to touch the head while he was crowning. My thought was, “No. Gross. Just let me do my thing.” As the shoulders were emerging, there was a slight hitch, so the nurses lifted my legs to change position and then William was out.
The first surge (contraction) that I felt was at 1:30pm. William was born less that 6 hours later at 7:15pm. He was 9lbs, 4 oz and perfectly healthy. I was a little dizzy and had one small tear, but didn’t need stitches.
I felt no pain during the entire experience. I had no pain meds. I didn’t even think to ask for meds because I didn’t ever think about pain. I felt lots of pressure and a brief burning sensation (I imagine that was the tear) but no real pain. I attribute this to my supportive husband, expert doula, the amazing way the human body is put together, and to the practice of Hypnobirthing that we used to prepare.
The experience was peaceful, empowering, and exhilarating. I want to do it again.
Because of the wonderful birth experience with her first son, Katie is now passionate about all women having that opportunity. She is on the board of Minnesota Families For Midwifery and tells everyone she can about how birth can be empowering and enjoyable. Katie lives in St. Paul, MN and works part time for the YMCA.