Monday November 19th began with me feeling a bit sad and one tracked as I woke up at 5 am with nothing more than Braxton Hicks, four days past my due date. Sam had done acupressure on my spleen 6 for hours the day before which had induced contractions, but they were sporadic and far apart. Overanalyzing them with my ibirth app was starting to take its toll and I was feeling so guilty as a mom to Matilda for being completely focused on giving birth. I finally decided to just get out of the house. I called my mom and she told me to come over. We drove to her apartment, a few contractions on the way, and had a perfect breakfast of bagels and marscapone cheese with eggs. My sister drove over and after breakfast we went to Piedmont Park for a long walk. We walked to this pond, all over the main track, and up a huge hill. We admired the yellow gingko trees. We finished the walk with four flights of stairs.
We got back to the apartment and I went to the restroom. Much to my surprise, my mucus plug had come out! I had looked for weeks in the toilet for that anomaly. It was finally out! I was really excited because I didn't have that happen with Matilda, in fact, none of what lay ahead had been experienced before. I took a deep breath and tried not to get too excited because I knew that it could be hours, days, or weeks before I went in to labor.
This all happened around 2. I decided to bounce on my yoga ball like I'd been told, to get our baby in position. My pants were tight and uncomfortable so I just set there in my underwear. Matilda went down for a nap and I had a small glass of wine to relax. It made my face really hot so I switched to water. My mom put on “Something Borrowed” and I continued to time my contractions. I texted my doula, Cynthya, to let her know what was going on. I kept timing my contractions… 8 minutes, 14 minutes. They started to become regular so I bravely sent out a text to a few friends that I thought I could be in labor. I also texted Sam to say, “I think this could be it!” He ended up leaving work and heading over around 3:30.
Close to 4 I was having a more intense contraction on my mom's bed when I felt a “pop!” inside of me and an immediate presence of fluid. I literally gasped because it was such a wild feeling. Sam ran and grabbed a towel and I headed for the bathroom. Sure enough my water had certainly broken! I wasn't in the grocery store or carpool, it happened in such a perfect way.
After my water broke we called the midwives and Cynthya and my contractions went from sporadic to 3 minutes apart. Instantly. Per Cynthya's advice we headed to the hospital. Matilda was very concerned as we were leaving, she had just woken up and that made me really sad. I didn't want her to worry. In the car I focused on the Bradley Method techniques that I had learned: I relaxed my whole body, pictured my cervix opening for Phoebe, and focused on my breathing.
When we got to the hospital around 5pm Sam dropped me off at the lobby. I stood there in the lobby rocking back and forth, breathing deeply, and watching the contraction timer… 3 minutes, 2:30, 2:50. They were getting closer and closer together. Sam met me and we headed to the 7th floor to be admitted. We met Cynthya there and were separated while I went in to Triage (which I never left!). They monitored me for about 20 minutes, checking the baby's heartbeat. The midwife came in and talked with us and then told us to walk for a couple of hours. At the time I was really confused by this but went along with it. Cynthya tried to get more information while I kept managing the contractions. I was calm, quiet, and internalizing all of the discomfort.
We determined that there wasn't a room available and that we were waiting for one. Sam brought the nurses brownies and cookies and they told him we were on a 2-3 hour wait for a room. My response was that there was no way this baby was waiting that long.
Cynthya sprung into action, turning the triage room into a delivery room. She hung Christmas lights, put on Christmas music (Bing Crosby), and waved a warm cloth doused in lavender around the room. I remember thinking it smelled so good. I used lavender in my baths for months before and had put it in my car and it will always remind me of Phoebe. Matilda also loves wearing it. <3 We were so thankful to have Cynthya's support. Another lifesaver on hand was this amazing Push Pack that Sam and Cynthya dug through for food and other labor supplies. I'm still using it!
Sam and Rachel hung back and tried to help, but I really just wanted to be alone. I was having some back labor and Sam rubbed my lower back with some tools that Cynthya gave him. It really helped. Per Cynthya's recommendation I went into the bathroom to try laboring on the toilet. Sitting down really hurt so I just rocked back and forth and breathed deeply. I started to feel some pressure in my bottom so I told Cynthya I wanted the midwife to come. I knew she was coming soon.
I went and got on the bed and tried a different position, suddenly I felt like I couldn't manage quite as well. I stayed calm and continued breathing, the midwife came in and I laid on the bed, trying to focus on breathing in and out, allowing my body to open, praying that Phoebe would be here soon. She felt my stomach and determined that “it would be a while.” Literally, within minutes I felt my body go into transition. I did the classic, “I can't do this anymore” “I don't want to be here.” I felt my body get hot, I started feeling like I was going to throw up. I still had my underwear on and I could feel the urge to start pushing. The midwife called for the nurses and a table and the rest was my body completely taking over. Cynthya was coaching me while Sam was fanning me. The fan was a total relief because I felt like I was going to pass out. When the midwife finally checked me, I was at a plus 1.
My body took over and did the rest. I knew I was going to meet my baby soon but I felt totally out of my body. Unlike with an epidural, I didn't have to try to push. My body literally convulsed our baby out. Our darling Phoebe was ready for the world. After four pushes or so she was born at 7:28pm, two and a half hours after we had arrived at the hospital. My first response was, “I did it!” It was so empowering. I was so proud.
They handed her to me immediately and helped me get my top off (I was still wearing my clothes!). She nursed right away and I held her for two hours before they even measured her. My mom and Rachel came and looked at her and brought us some dinner.
The only part of the labor and delivery that was challenging and a little scary was the transition, which is when most women ask for drugs. The good news was that it was the shortest part. After everything was taken care of we were transferred to a recovery room which had the most amazing view of the city.
Sam put up the same Christmas lights that had been glowing when Phoebe was born and we stared at this perfect, tiny gift from God. I was so thankful that all of my prayers had been answered… she was here, she was healthy and perfect, Matilda was taken care of, she was born naturally, and I had gotten to fully experience the miracle of giving birth. It was something I really wanted to experience. Although I hadn't expected such low intervention (come to find out the midwife didn't believe I was in labor because I was so calm…), it was perfect. No IV, no poking and prodding. I was able to move around and just be. It was amazing.