Having the Baby
My due date finally arrived, and despite all our preparation, I was still nervous. But the baby didn't want to wait. Around 10 a.m. I felt a little pressure in my pelvis but figured it wasn't a contraction -- a contraction would be more painful. It wasn't until a few hours later (seated in church!) that we timed the sessions and realized I was in labor. Shortly, there was no mistaking that fact -- the contractions were growing steadily. We called our midwife to alert her and settled in to labor in the comfort of our home. By 2 p.m. I was still walking around a lot. My baby was positioned posterior (sunny-side up), which made it very uncomfortable for me to lie down or sit back in a chair. During contractions, I would squat or sit on a big rubber ball to get comfortable. I closed my eyes, focused on relaxing, and took deep, normal breaths. Lou talked me through each contraction, reminding me not to fight them but to let myself go. By 7 p.m. my contractions were really tough and coming one on top of another. I found it increasingly difficult to relax. Lou knew these were signs that I was in late first stage labor, so we decided it was time to head to the hospital.
I was immediately wheeled from the emergency room up to our birthing room. We got off to a poor start with the nurse. At the door, she told Lou he would have to go back down to registration to do some paperwork. Lou politely refused to be separated from me. We're not sure if the nurse read the birth plan in my chart; if she did, it didn't seem to matter to her. For example, she kept asking me questions while I was trying to relax through a contraction. Lou would answer, but she'd ignore him and ask me again. Still, we stayed focused on what we had to do.
Next, I had to lie in bed (very uncomfortable!) for a fetal monitor check. In between contractions, I drank cup after cup of ginger ale to hydrate myself so I wouldn't be put on an IV. Then I had an exam to determine that I was fully effaced and nearly 7 centimeters dilated -- finally, good news! I would have been crushed if 10 hours of labor hadn't gotten me that far.
Labor progressed normally, which is to say the contractions got harder and even closer together. For two more hours, I labored standing up or kneeling in bed. I really had to focus on remaining calm. Lou was a true Bradley coach: During each contraction he rubbed my back with tennis balls to help ease the pain. When I didn't like that any longer, he held my hand and talked to me. He reminded me of what we had learned in class: to breathe deeply, to visualize my muscles working to help push the baby down the birth canal. He assured me that we were almost there. In other words, he kept me focused on our end goal -- the baby -- instead of the pain.