Read Part I and Part II.
T and I climbed into bed and he fell asleep very quickly. My mother slept on the bed we set up in the living room, and the house was silent. My contractions started to become regular but far apart, so I attempted to sleep but awoke to time each surge. They were coming every 5 to 7 minutes and lasting anywhere from 45 seconds to a minute and a half.
Weeks before, we finished our course on Hypnobirthing. In this birth training, I learned to welcome each contraction and visualize the opening of my body and the downward descent of my baby. I learned mantras that I repeated to keep calm and steady as labor progressed. I was committed to remaining patient and trusting in my body to know what to do. In retrospect, I am so thankful I had these techniques to help me birth J.
At around 4:00 am on Sunday, March 20, after only a little rest, I had 3 really hard contractions while sitting on the toilet. At that point, I texted my doula and told her I could not do it alone anymore and I needed her to come over. She left work immediately, stopping home only to change and grab a bite to eat. I went into the bedroom, woke T and my mother so they could begin collecting our belongings.
Our doula showed up at 5:00 am, and talked me through a few more contractions. She had me sit upon the birth ball for awhile, and observed my behavior to determine how far along I may have been. Knowing the birth center was about a 20 minute drive from our home, I opted to go sooner rather than later. Contracting in the car sounded terrifying to me, so we all agreed to leave around 5:30.
A, our doula, drove and stopped the car in the middle of the road so I could contract silently and completely still. T sat in the back and held my head. Thankfully, it was in the wee hours of a Sunday morning, so the streets were almost completely empty - a rare sight in our bustling city.
Upon arriving at the birth center, we were greeted by 2 midwives and a student midwife. I was taken back to the exam room where I was checked to see how much progress I had made over night. The contractions started to come in harder at this point, and the exam would stimulate another. I had progressed to 5 cm dilated and about 75% effaced. I was excited about this progress and was ready to jump in the birthing tub, but the midwives wanted me to walk around for at least an hour. I was angry at hearing this and all but told them.
So we walked. My mother, T, A and I walked the halls of the birth center. With each contraction, I reached for T, held on to his shoulders, and swayed gently. The midwives were wonderful and left us alone. With each contraction, I tried to breath calmly and continue my visualizations of opening and progressing.
About an hour later at 8:00 am, I was anxious to be checked again and allowed to go to the birthing room and climb in the tub. I desperately wanted the relief of the water I had heard so much about. As we headed back to the exam room, I leaned over the birthing ball for support to make it through another contraction. It was in that moment that I became nauseous and needed to vomit. I bolted to the bathroom, followed by T, and violently retched into the toilet. Having a contraction and vomiting at the same time is possibly the worst feeling in the world. After making it through this miserable moment, I turned around to see the smiling faces of my doula and the midwives. Quite confused, I asked for clarification. They told me vomiting was a great sign that labor was progressing and that I was in transition.
My midwife checked me and confirmed that I was now at 7 cm and 90% effaced. I was allowed to go back to the room and get in the birthing tub. I was thrilled! While I waited for the tub to be filled, the baby's heart rate was monitored on the dopplar and approved. I sat on the birth ball for a while longer and then climbed into the tub with T.
At this point, my memory becomes foggy as I was thrown into the throes of labor. I chanted in my mind the mantras, I visualized my baby, and I slept through every break between contractions. I changed positions from the tub, to the birthing ball, to the bed and back again. I held eye contact with T through each contraction and I breathed with the breaths of my doula. I did not want to be moved or to speak during a contraction so I sat as still and as calm as I could. T said that I was stoic throughout my entire labor - almost having a silent birth. I attribute this to my ability to focus and rest as taught by hypnobirthing. Even as my breathing would panic on the upswing of a surge, I was able to calm down once more with the help of T's encouragement and A's guidance.
At around 12:45 pm, I was mentally finished with labor. I demanded my midwife check me and she confirmed that I was dilated to a 10 and 100% effaced. While not having the strong urge to push, she invited me to try a few to see if anything would happen. Pretty quickly, J's head moved down the birth canal and everyone in the room happily acknowledged seeing little bits of hair.
Pushing was a struggle for me, but I managed to push 3 times for every contraction. I pushed for over an hour and was exhausted when my midwife suggested watching through a mirror the progress I was making with each push. During the next contraction, I kept my eyes open and breathed down. I saw J's head move down, and was frustrated to watch it go back at the end of the contraction. Two steps forward, one step back. However, just seeing his head was enough motivation to give it my all so I could meet my son.
At one point, I remember my midwife encouraging me to slow down so I would not tear, but I could care less about tearing at that moment. I was finished. And he was here.
J was born at 2:55 pm on Sunday, March 20, 2011. He was 7 lbs. and 19 3/4 inches of pure heaven. After 15 hours of labor, T and I welcomed our son into our arms. I held him on my skin and breathed in the relief and accomplishment of all that I had done. We stayed this way for an hour. I held him on my chest and T held me. I cherish this memory and it will forever be etched deeply in my heart.
And this is where my birth story of J ends.
Read Part IV.