It was 10 days past my due date on a Friday the 13th. I had been sleeping on the couch for the past month and a half and already started my maternity leave from work, both due to the general discomfort of being 41+ weeks pregnant. My husband, Jason, decided he would take half the day off from work, just because, so our plan and mission was to go downtown, eat lunch, and walk this baby girl out of me.
He got home at noon and we made our way downtown. I noticed that my back was hurting more than usual but at this point I had resigned myself to being eternally pregnant so I thought nothing of it and didn’t even mention it to Jason. Once we sat down at the restaurant, I realized the dull ache in my back began to take on a rhythm. I started to time the waves with my handy contraction timer app on my phone and what do you know, they were coming on about every 5 minutes or so. Holy crap, I was actually in labor.
Once we finished eating we decided to complete our mission to walk the baby out, especially since I was almost certain that “the time has come” (I Love Lucy reference for all you nerds out there). As we walked, my pace got slower and slower as the waves got stronger. We then agree that it was time to go to the Birth Center.
We arrived around 3pm and they hooked me up to the contraction monitor to gauge how far I was…they confirmed that I was indeed in labor, but that it was way too early to take me now so I got sent home until things were more serious. When I asked how I could be in labor without feeling a single ounce of pain in my stomach, they told me that most likely my baby was posterior (facing my abdomen with her head against my spine) and I was experiencing back labor. Fantastic. We got home, I took a shower, threw on comfy labor clothes and spent most of my time sitting on the birth ball rotating my hips with each contraction. I reached a point where they were getting so powerful that I had to really concentrate on my breathing and the birth ball was no longer helpful. It was time to go back to the Birth Center.
6:00pm. Oh the drive there was an experience in itself. We only live 20 minutes from the birth center but since I was having back labor, sitting with my back against anything was not an option. Envision me in the front passenger seat, on my knees, facing the headrest and hanging on for dear life while hoping a police car wouldn’t pull us over. It must have been a sight to see for the other drivers around us! While Jason drove he called the birth center repeatedly. They hold regular office hours that end at 4pm. They told us to call the main line, the answering service would pick up, and connect us to a midwife who would then meet us there. Well, of course, since it was Friday the 13th and the universe has a sense of humor, the line kept ringing and ringing and ringing. Someone forgot to put the phones on service before clocking out for the day and we were heading to an empty building while being seriously in labor at that point.
We arrived to find a locked door and were in a full panic. Jason banged on the door a few times while I continued to call a phone that didn’t get answered. Eureka! An after hours cleaning lady answered the door and we discovered that the midwife had been there since they closed, taking a nap, preparing for our imminent arrival..ah, sigh of relief!
I asked her to check my dilation. I was 4cm. I totally thought after 3+ hours of labor I’d be further along. This is when my memory becomes hazy as far a what I did chronologically. I bounced around from one thing to another like an obstacle course. I labored on the birth ball, on my hands and knees on the bed, standing and leaning against the bed, walking the halls of the entire birth center, in the large shower with scalding hot water on my back, and in the jacuzzi tub to name a few. While I was in the tub, is when I fully went into “labor land” completely withdrawn into myself, eyes closed, focused breathing with a low moan, and 100% oblivious to the world around me. I was somewhere else. Jason initially got in there with me but when I came to, he was in the room somewhere. I was so gone that I didn’t even realize he had left. This brings me to the one and only photo he took during the entire labor.
So far my water had stayed intact which I was thankful for since it served as a buffer for my now very strong contractions. After an hour or so in the tub, the midwife suggested that I get out and start moving again to keep labor from stalling. I requested another dilation check and at this point I was now at 8cm! I told her how bad my back was hurting from still only feeling pain in my back and she suggested 2 options. 1) She could give me a saline injection in my back which would give me temporary relief or 2) She could try to reach in and turn my baby’s head so that it wasn’t pressing against my spine. I chose the head turn since I had already built my tolerance up this far. To get relief then have it come back even stronger really made no sense to me at the time. She attempted to turn her head then I felt a huge gush…my water broke.
The moment it happened, I knew that my buffer was gone and it was about to get really intense, and it did. Laying down for her to check me and try to turn her was like torture so as soon as my water broke and her attempt was a failure, I bounced back up to keep laboring in positions that were more comfortable. I could feel her drop down low shortly after my water broke and I got on the bed, on hands and knees, and tried to start pushing. Mind you, after we checked into the birth center, I made it a point to not look at the clock, which I didn’t, so I have no idea how long any of this took or what time it happened.
It felt like I was going one step forward, two steps back. Jason said he could barely see her head then she would go back in. After being in this position for a while the midwife suggested I go sit on the toilet to allow gravity to help get her out. Boy did that do the trick! I sat through a few contractions barely able to keep myself up from sheer exhaustion (with Jason being so sweet, by my side, feeding me grapes, honey, peanut butter, and water to help me muster up some energy) then I felt the strongest urge to push, so I did, and I could feel her head finally start to come out with the next couple of pushes. Once part of her head was exposed, they had me walk (more like waddle) from the bathroom to the bed to get ready for the grand finale.
She checked to find a heart tone but couldn’t hear it. I knew intuitively that nothing was wrong and that she was just too low at that point to get a reading but the midwife expressed that she didn’t feel comfortable not hearing it and that I needed to get her out as fast as I could. They turned me on my left side, Jason holding my right leg up at a bent angle, and I waited for the next contraction to be my que to push like I’ve never pushed before. On it came. I pushed as hard as I possibly could and she came flying out of me, head AND body, like a rocket. It actually surprised everyone including myself. What a relief! It was over, she was here!
After 12+ hours of a marathon of a labor, our first daughter, Nora Laraine, was born at 3:24am on September 14th, 2013. 7lbs 13oz and 20 inches of pure perfection. It was absolutely the hardest challenge of my life yet my greatest physical accomplishment. I couldn’t have done it without Jason’s relentless support whether it be him allowing me to hang off of his shoulders while we danced our way down the halls of the birth center or providing counter pressure to my back through every contraction, to making sure I stayed hydrated and nourished during the latter stage of active labor when I no longer wanted anyone touching me. This experience changed both of our lives in ways I can’t put into words.