One Mom Chooses an Unmedicated Birth

Having the Baby Continued

But even with Lou's efforts, I have to admit that things did not go the way I had envisioned. I had pictured myself lying quietly in bed, focusing on the baby. Instead, I moaned and groaned through the final contractions. While knowing what was going on physiologically made me less fearful, visualizing muscles being stretched and pulled didn't make the contractions less painful. We had said that we didn't want internal exams, but toward the end of labor I had two. I needed assurance that I was almost there. Even focusing on deep breathing didn't work in the end. When I had trouble catching my breath, Kristin suggested some patterned breathing techniques.

Despite these realities of labor, I did not ask for drugs. In fact, the harder labor got, the closer we knew we were to having the baby. We took one contraction at a time and slowly got through it.

At about 9:40 p.m., shortly after my water broke, I was ready to push. And what a relief that was -- I could finally work with the contractions. And since I chose to push sitting up in bed, I could lean back and relax in between them. I pushed as long and as hard as was comfortable (Lou reminded me to ignore our nurse counting to 10). As the baby's head crowned, Kristin massaged my perineum with oil and coached me through the final pushes. At 10:21 p.m., our baby slipped out squawking and squirming and was placed on my belly. With tears in his eyes, Lou announced we had a baby girl, Emma Katherine. She was beautiful -- pink, wide-eyed, and gurgling.

Even though I'd heard dozens of labor stories, I was still surprised at how tough it had been. But Emma and I were both healthy and alert. Though it took me a few days to say there would be a next time, I now look forward to it. I hope we can make the relaxation techniques work even better for us. If not, odds are good that labor will be easier and faster the second time around. For now, I can focus on my new labor of love -- motherhood.

Katherine Eastman Seeley lives in Norwalk, Connecticut.

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