Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A long story about a short labor

My post is a day late…again. Must work on that. I finally had a chance to sit down and write out Ash’s birth story. I know not everyone is interested in this, but I always love reading birth stories. I tried to edit out anything that might be considered TMI and I apologize if you read something that you wish you hadn’t!

Backstory: At my 34 week appointment, the midwife discovered that I was having contractions and my cervix was dilated 1-2 centimeters, so I was put on bed rest for almost 2 weeks to avoid delivering too early. Everyone thought that as soon as bed rest was over (at 36 weeks), I would pretty much just go right into labor, but Asher had other plans. Then at my 37 week appointment on June 19 I was already 4 cm dilated, 90% effaced, at 0 station, so I just felt like a ticking time bomb! Even the midwives were planning to see me again over the weekend to have the baby. Again, not so much. Finally, I woke up on Friday the 26th feeling "different". I had turned my alarm clock off, and I was aware of Adam's going off periodically, and in the back of my mind I knew that if I was going to get to work on time I needed to get up, but for some reason I just didn't. And I didn't care. Finally I realized I was having gas-like pains, and eventually noticed that when I felt them, my belly got really hard at the same time. The sensation was totally different from the Braxton-Hicks contractions I’d been having for 2 weeks. Adam finally woke up asked if I was going to work, and I told him I thought I might be in labor. I decided to get up and go to the bathroom and walk around to see if the contractions would stop; as soon as I started to get out of bed, my water broke! That was 8 a.m. I started crying a little because I realized we would be meeting our baby that day! We made phone calls to the birthing center and our parents, then I washed my face, brushed my teeth, etc.; I was immediately having contractions like 2-3 minutes apart. I figured once I sat down and got settled on the couch they would space out some more, but they didn't, they just kept getting closer and closer together. Since I thought we were still in the early part of labor, I was really focused on staying relaxed and in control, knowing it was bound to get harder. We called the birthing center again to tell them how close the contractions were, and I apparently sounded so calm the midwife didn't get the impression that anything really serious was happening. She told me that sometimes the uterus gets hyper after the water breaks, and recommended I get in the shower and see if that would slow things down. Getting to the bathroom was like torture; taking my clothes off was horrible. I finally got in the shower and realized there was no way I could sit down in the tub and relax, and I definitely couldn't stay standing up because the pressure with the contractions was unbelievable. I told Adam I had to sit on the toilet, and as soon as I did I could tell my body was pushing. I didn't say that to Adam, though, I just told him we needed to get in the car and go. Getting dressed again was horrible; waiting for Adam to pull the car out of the garage so I could get in was terrible. I was really struggling - looking back I’m pretty sure I was probably about 7-8 centimeters dilated by then, so I was going through transition.

We headed to the birthing center (fortunately by then it was after 9:00 and rush hour traffic had really thinned out). I didn't make a noise or move the whole way there - I just sat completely still with my eyes closed talking myself through these incredibly intense contractions - when one would start I would say "it's OK, you're OK, you can do this" over and over in my head. I guess we got to the birthing center around 9:40 and I seriously wasn't sure I could get out of the car and walk inside. I had several contractions on the way to the room. When the midwife checked me I was 9.5 centimeters dilated and she told me I could start pushing whenever I felt like it. I got in the tub and probably could have pushed him out right away, but mentally I wasn't ready to do that yet - things had moved so fast! So I just tried to breathe and relax for a while. I must have done that for almost an hour, though it didn't seem like that long. Finally I had a pep talk with myself about how I was going to have to push the baby out, so I assumed the pushing position and got to work. GOOD LORD DID THAT HURT! Nothing could have prepared me for the intensity of the pressure and the pushing. Apparently I progressed really fast. The midwife kept me updated with how much head was showing, etc. and I totally thought she was lying to me the entire time. I’m not sure why! Every time she would tell me something, I would think "yeah, right". I even asked Adam one time if she was telling the truth (she was) and once I reached down to feel it myself. Before I knew it she told me the head would be born during the next contraction (I still didn't believe her), so she had me do this push/breathe/push/breathe thing and all the sudden I could tell his head had been born, and his body came out just a few moments later. It was amazing and so exhilarating!!! I wish I could have looked down to see him emerge, but I just couldn't open my eyes - I was really concentrating! They pulled him up out of the water and put him on my chest. Surprisingly, I didn’t cry - I was so amazed and awe-struck at what had just happened that it didn't even occur to me. Asher didn’t really cry, either, just whimpered a little and then blinked a few times as he took in his new surroundings. Adam cried a little bit, though, and it was really sweet.

So, Asher was born at 11:50, less than 4 hours after my water broke and after only 30 minutes of real pushing. The midwife said it was definitely good that we came in when we did and that with my next baby we definitely shouldn’t dawdle about getting where we need to be once labor starts! We stayed at the birthing center until 6, then went home.

The experience was exactly what I had hoped for – natural and complication-free. The birthing center was definitely the right choice for us, and the care we received from the midwives was outstanding. God heard and answered our prayers, and now we have this amazing gift!


  1. LOVED reading your birth story! Thanks for sharing! I had a water birth too. :)