I had a pregnancy with no actual complications — and a labor to match. I found out I was pregnant a week and a day after my wedding. I knew I was pregnant during my wedding but was in denial because I was under the assumption that I was on my period — it turns out I just have a vascular cervix and was meant to bleed my entire pregnancy.
There was a lot of concern about this bleeding early on, but after multiple exams and tests the nurse midwives found nothing out of the ordinary — it just meant I had to have an ultrasound every week for the majority of the first trimester. Midwives with more than 15 years experience told me they had never seen such a condition that would cause my cervix to bleed with minimal irritation (i.e. walking), so I was determined to let go and trust my body. I felt fine, the baby seemed fine, and there wasn’t a lot I could do.
I went in for my weekly exam a week before my due date. During the exam I discussed the signs of labor I was experiencing, and my midwife checked my cervix. She discovered I was 5 centimeters dilated and 70% effaced (to which my husband thought I was in labor and going to have the baby). We were sent home with the expectation that we would be seeing everyone very soon.
That night we were excited and anticipating the arrival of our little guy, but by the next day I had convinced myself that he was going to take his time and I didn’t need to wait around and drive myself crazy until labor began. That day I went with a friend for a pedicure (I was convinced that by having beautiful bright red toes during labor it would take my mind off of the pain, bring me back to reality and make me happy). Later that evening we met the same friend and her fiance for dinner. I looked at my husband and said I would order the spiciest thing on the menu because how many chances can you really try to induce labor?!
After dinner we headed home — this was a turning point in the night. I was euphoric. There was a lightning storm and the wind was amazing. I remember watching the lightning bolt across the sky as we drove and had the biggest smile on my face. I was energetic and so thankful for my life. On a side note, this night was May 5th, which had the largest full moon of the year.
Upon arriving home my husband suggested we go to bed, but I had so much energy and all I wanted to do was enjoy how I felt. I suggested Scrabble. Like a champ, my husband busted out the Scrabble and we both placed our first words. While sitting on the couch there was a sudden rush like I had to pee. I immediately stood up and realized my water had broken. I knew at that moment that we had to go to the hospital soon so all I wanted to do was shower first.
Excitedly I hobbled upstairs and started the shower while my husband got the bags ready, called our doula and midwives. While in the shower I had a momentary freak-out about the pain that was yet to come, and I then realized I was in no pain right then and told myself to stay in the moment and not dread what was to come. That was the moment that defined how I labored. I was fine and we were fine and we were going to have a baby.
We left the house with the wind whipping around us as we laughed and then drove to the hospital which was about 20 minutes away. At the hospital I walked in and the nurse on-call asked if I was in labor, explaining that I was very calm to have just had my water break. At the elevator we met our doula and she shared the same observations. I heard them but thought that I was being normal and completely myself.
At that point I had only had contractions which felt like my tummy getting tighter with no pain. I felt no need to talk or distress. Once in my robe and with two doses of antibiotics down, my midwife suggested resting. My husband slept on the couch and she slept on pads on the floor. Meanwhile, I labored silently in bed and slept in between contractions. By 3:30 it was time for me to have distractions and comfort. My husband woke up and climbed in bed with me.
At this point the contractions were real but I knew there was an end when one began. We used the yoga ball, we sat on the couch, my doula provided counter pressure and all of the techniques seemed to work. My main problem was how cold I was and the fact that I was shaking — all I wanted to do was get in the bathtub.
I was not aware that the tub was also a means to increase labor at a certain point, and within minutes I began transitioning.
Finally I was told I could get in the tub, which was located in an attached private bath. I went into the bathroom alone with my husband and asked for privacy while he remained. As soon as I was in the tub I felt relief, but the relief was short-lived. I was not aware that the tub was also a means to increase labor at a certain point, and within minutes I began transitioning.
I had two contractions back to back with no relief. After a short break I had another two contractions back to back. This was the first time I realized the true pain I would endure. I grabbed the wall, cussed for the first time and told my husband I could not do it, to which he replied that I was doing it. Immediately after I felt the biggest urge to use the bathroom and I let him know. He went directly to our nurse and midwife to inform them of the change. I have to admit that I knew what the pressure meant but in the moment was pissed that he had ratted me out.
Well needless to say, I was ushered out of the bathroom and back towards the bed (hospital policies did not cover water births even though they were open to midwives, unmedicated birth, delayed clamping, skin to skin, one and a half hours with infant before weight and measurements, keeping the placenta and keeping the infant in the room with the mother and father). This was about five in the morning.
Once back on the bed I got on all fours to labor. Every contraction just felt like the urge to push. My husband describes my transition as being animalistic. I went from serenity and coping on the inside to grunting, growling and doing what felt right, not what I was directed to do. My midwife was called into the room with the belief that I would be delivering soon. I ended up pushing for about an hour and forty minutes during which I was told to lay on my side and back while using a sheet and squat bar for support.
The sun was coming up and there was comments about it to try to distract me. Towards the end a nurse even said right next to me that “We need to get this baby out now” which was not the feeling in the room prior. And then at 6:40 in the morning Atley Sage was born, caught partially by my midwife and partially by my husband, and placed directly on my chest. My first thought was how warm he was, and then I was in awe. I just wanted to hold him and close my eyes.
I still had to deliver the placenta, and no matter how many times I was told to expect it, I didn’t expect it. I was done but then I wasn’t. I was so tired that pushing was not easy or productive. After a few pushes, I delivered the placenta and went through 12 hours of rotating nurses waking me up, pushing on my abdomen and making sure I was coming along accordingly. But we had our baby boy, alert and healthy.
I did not tear and was able to nurse within two hours. He was beautiful, bright-eyed and with a full head of hair. Born without intervention, his placenta pulsed until it stopped and both his father and I had skin-to-skin with him. He never left our room until we left the hospital. I am saying this because I was lucky enough to have had a labor that was relatively short for my first labor, included no major complications.
I am not so naive as to think that it could have gone differently due to any change in detail of no fault of my own. I am grateful and open to however any future pregnancies and deliveries may go. I did not experience back labor as friends have or have complications that were cause for early inductions etc and I see that those births are just as beautiful. I now feel the great sense of losing control at the same time as letting your body take over that comes from birth.
At nine months, I see how that baby boy is growing, getting teeth, and more determined than imaginable. He is a force, my little force, born during a full moon and lightning storm — ready to make an impact.