On Wednesday January 7th, I was achy and cramping all day. I would have thought for sure today was the day if I hadn’t been feeling like this for the last three days already. I had an appointment with my midwife that afternoon and decided that maybe this time I’ll get my cervix checked just to see if these contractions were actually doing anything.
Sure enough I was dilated 3cm and 70% effaced. “That’s great progress already!” My doula, Kelly, told me when I texted her the news.
I went home had dinner, put Mr. Mister to bed all the while feeling more and more achy. My contractions were picking up but not really timeable and all very manageable as I went about my business. I’m not sure I could have told you when one contraction ended and the next started at this point but things were happening I was pretty sure. But then again I had been pretty sure things were happening all week. So I still didn’t get my hopes up just yet.
I went to bed around 10 and that’s when it became pretty clear that my body really was in early labor. What seemed like moderate cramping while awake and moving around became clear cut and intolerable contractions while lying down trying to fall asleep. And they were close together too! Every 2-3 min lasting about 30-45 seconds.
Around 10:50pm I sent my sister a text letting her know that I would probably need her to come stay with Mr. Mister at some point that night and then I called Kelly and started to cry. I wasn’t even sure exactly what to tell her other than I was pretty sure I would need her that night. I didn’t want to waste her time asking her to come until things got serious. I knew I should probably just try to sleep until my contractions got longer.
But my contractions were so close together I couldn’t sleep. I felt antsy. I felt anxious
Kelly reassured me that we would figure out when it was time for her to come together. To just stay in touch and we would work it out. “It’s ok to cry. That’s part of it too. It’s all part of all the hormones that are going on. So try to let it out. It will help.” So I cried a little more. She told me to take a bath and that might help me relax and the contractions spread out. She said to try and sleep.
I took a bath. I relaxed. But my contractions were still very close together. I only had about a minute and a half between contractions. Not enough time to sleep at all. It seemed pointless to stay in bed and try. I told my husband to get the sleep he could and I headed downstairs and just then my sweet sister called and offered to come over right away.
When she showed up we chatted excitedly about the new baby about to arrive and I stopped every couple of minutes to pace the room and breath. “Wow, they are really close together!” she noted. Tell me about it. She offered to stay up with me for a bit and keep me company. We decided to watch some TV and just hang out. By the end of a one hour show my labor had slowed practically to a dead stop. Amanda decided to go to bed and I did as well hoping for a bit of sleep.
I woke up around 3:30 am with a very intense contraction. My sweet husband woke up and checked on me and we joked that “Shit is getting REAL!” But my contractions were still short and close together. More intense but not the type of contractions we were expecting from active labor.
I called Kelly around 4:40 am. She suggested another bath or shower and to try a series of positions called the Miles Circuit to help get baby in position. I did the circuit doing the last upright position standing in the shower.
By about 6 in the morning I was getting pissed. Amanda needed to go home to be there when her son woke up so she left. Mr. Mister was about to wake. Time to start the day and I didn’t appear to be in active labor yet.
This is my labor with my first all over again! I’m going to be in this horrible unpredictable labor pattern all day! This is going to be another labor over 24 hours!
I was angry. “That’s it! My body just doesn’t know how to have a baby! My body can’t do this like a normal mammal!!!!” I cried and complained to my husband. He held me and told me I was doing great. He told me that this baby was coming soon enough. It felt good, but I didn’t believe him.
Mr. Mister woke up. I made him and myself a nice big breakfast contracting all the while, pausing to lean over and brace myself with the kitchen counter and breath as I needed to. I just got angry with every contraction. It was clear to me in the moment that these contractions were only making me miserable and keeping me from sleeping, not bringing me my baby any time soon.
After we ate I went and played with Mr. Mister in the living room, stopping with each contraction to get onto my hands and knees and rock my hips back and forth and breath. “No do yoga Mommy! Play with me! No do yoga today!”. I told him not to worry about Mommy’s yoga.
My husband told me he was calling my sister to come pick up Mr. Mister for the day. I told him there was no point because my body doesn’t know how to do this and it’s not happening today.
He called my sister anyway. She picked Mr. Mister up around 8:30 and he happily headed off for his special day with Aunt Mandy we had been telling him about for weeks.
My husband told me we should call the doula and have her head over soon. I said not to bother, nothing was happening. We wouldn’t need her until tonight or tomorrow morning because my body is not capable of birth like a normal healthy mammal.
He called her anyway. She said she would get her things together and head over soon and suggested I take another bath and that might help lengthen my contractions. (She later told me that once she heard his voice she knew it was really time. He saw it even if I didn't.)
A bath sounded nice so I took her advice but still had no faith that this was happening anytime soon. I sunk into the nice warm bathtub with a big sigh and did my best to relax my body.
My very first contraction in the tub was over a minute long and much more intense than they had been up to this point. After about three more contraction like this things were suddenly starting to feel pretty real. I felt like I needed to use the toilet but I couldn’t. I worried this was the urge to push sneaking up on me! All of a sudden the baby felt low. Really, really low.
I got dressed and called for my husband. “I think we should go to the hospital now”. He called Kelly at about 9:00. She said maybe we should wait for her to come to our house, it would only delay us maybe half an hour getting to the hospital. I told him we should go and have her meet us.
My husband called Ramona, our midwife and she said she would call ahead to the hospital and get a room ready for us. While in transit Ramona called back and said they wouldn’t admit me without going through triage for a cervical check. She suggested we pop by the office for a quick cervical check so we could avoid that. He asked what I wanted to do. “Whatever she thinks is best”. So we decided to pop in the office. About two contractions in the car later I changed my mind. “I want to just go to the hospital NOW!”
We arrived at the admittance desk around 9:45 am January 8th. He filled out paper work and talked to the people behind the desk. I leaned over bracing myself in the hallway moaning loudly. They sent a labor and delivery nurse to take me directly to a room. I guess it was pretty clear I didn’t need a cervical check.
“Should I get you a wheel chair?” She kindly offered.
“No! I’d rather walk. Thank you.” Who could sit though pain like this?
So I walked and paused to handle my contractions in the hallway as we went along with no concern for who was around. I paused right in front of the cafeteria for a pretty intense one and I guess I started to squat without really thinking about it. “Whoa! Please don’t’ make me deliver a baby in the café today!” exclaimed the nurse. We laughed and kept moving.
Ramona was waiting for me in my room. She checked my cervix and I was 8cm dilated and fully effaced. “Oh, good for you Jennefer! It won’t be long.”
And it wasn’t. About half an hour later it was time to push.
I started pushing in the bed on my knees bracing myself on the back of the bed. But pushing felt awkward in this position. I kind of wanted to squat but I really wanted to be the one to catch the baby and couldn’t imagine how that might work. I tried pushing on my side for about one contraction before I ended up just flipping over and pushing in a semi-sitting position with Kelly and my nurse bracing my legs for me.
I had some nice breaks between contractions to rest but as I felt each contraction start to come on I was overcome with dread. I didn’t want to do it. I wasn’t sure I could.
“I know I shouldn’t be, but I’m scared. I’m not sure I can do it. But I guess I have to.”
I don’t really remember what my husband, doula, midwife or nurse said in response to me. Nice supportive things I’m sure. It didn’t really matter. I just needed to say it out loud. Somehow admitting it out loud, not pretending to be brave, being really vulnerable and honest like that freed me of my fear. The fear and weakness left my body and only strength remained.
And so I did it. At 10:59 AM on January 8th 2015 I birthed my sweet little boy, The Little Mister. I lifted him from my body with my own two hands. I placed him on my tummy. I rubbed his skin and spoke to him softly. I inspected his 7 lb 12 oz, 21 inch body head to toe.
And I fell in love.