People ask me all the time if I had babies before I went to midwifery school. I didn’t. I just always loved all aspects of labor, mamas and babies. But I would be lying to you if I didn’t say that being pregnant and having a baby humbled me in many ways and changed my practice in small, subtle ways.
I like to tell people that I started trying for our first pregnancy by pulling my own Mirena IUD out at home. I definitely don’t recommend that to people, but alas, that’s how we became pregnant. My pregnancy was very healthy and I was low risk the entire time. We didn’t find out the gender and only had the dating and anatomy ultrasounds. But we knew we were having a boy and he was going to be named James.
I worked all through my 39th week and on Friday afternoon, at 39 weeks and 5 days, I closed out all my labs, notes and emails, then said goodbye to the staff, and …”maybe I’ll see you Monday?!” My husband and I went on a date to see the new Star Wars movie with friends and then went home to bed. Around 6am the next morning, I woke up with strong cramps. They were very irregular at first – every 20 minutes, then every 11 minutes, then every 7minutes. I knew within a few hours I was going into labor. I told my husband I was in early labor and got to distracting myself. I vacuumed my house, cleaned my kitchen, tried to take some walks outside – all the while the contractions coming every few minutes to 7-8 minutes. Around 4pm in the afternoon, they amped up a notch and closed in consistently at 4-5 minutes. My husband and I took a slow walk about the neighborhood – maybe 6 blocks or so – and I had to stop and breathe through every contraction.
When we arrived back at the house, the husband made us grilled cheese sandwiches and I nibbled on mine while breathing through contractions. I decided to get in the bath tub, and while in the bath, the contractions intensified even more. I checked my own cervix and was 6-7cm with a bulging bag of water. My husband had wanted to go the hospital when I was around 6cm because we lived 45 minutes from base. So we got in the car and off we went. I remember this really sweet moment right before we got in the car: I asked the husband to pray for us. And in our driveway, at 9pm at night, he said a little prayer to the Lord that I don’t even remember except that it reassured me and gave me hope that labor was going great, and our baby would be here soon. On the way to the hospital, I called the OBGYN on call, told her I was in active labor and on my way in.
On arrival, she confirmed I was 7cm, 100% effaced and still with a bulging bag of water, and after a reactive non-stress test, I got in the shower. I stayed in the shower for around 2 hours, breathing in and out, in and out, and trying to distract myself by talking to my husband. After a few hours, we repeated my cervical exam and I was 8 cm. My doctor and I talked about breaking my bag of water and decided that was the next best step. She broke the bag of water and all I remember is the next contraction was a wave of fury over my body. I remember rolling around and everyone telling me “you’re okay.” In my mind I was thinking, I’m definitely not okay, in fact, I’m dying.
I could feel the baby move down with each powerful contraction and within about 30 minutes, I was pushing involuntarily. The nurse checked my cervix and told me I was an anterior lip. I remember telling her, “I’m still pushing though and I can’t help it.” That’s the beauty of labor. Your body just takes over and the process becomes primal.
Within an hour from breaking my bag of water, I was pushing. I pushed for about 20 minutes before I felt the crowning pain. The searing pain of your tissue being stretched to it’s absolute extreme…and then she was here. Our sweet Abby was born – so pink and tiny. We were convinced we were having a bald, baby boy, and here was our little girl with a head of hair. We were in love instantly.
I had a second degree tear and a periclitoral tear repaired under local anesthetic. To me, that was worse than the pain of contractions or crowning. I couldn’t hold Abby during the repair, and she and the husband did skin to skin together while the OBGYN placed my stitches. After the repair, Abby latched for breastfeeding like a pro, and the rest is history.
If you’d like to share your birth story, please share via the contact page here. I’d love to share a woman’s story every week (or more!). Everyone has a different birth story; that’s one of my favorite things about birth. Can’t wait to hear yours 🙂