All births are amazing but your favorite story is your own. There so many fun and crazy stories, but they’re not usually funny in the moment. The laughter comes after the panic is over.
Okay, time for confession. I'm a childbirth educator, and even though childbirth educators are a breed of women who speak strongly against intervention we often buckle during times of vulnerability. Statistically, we teach that all forms of induction should be avoided unless medically necessary. However, we too have been known to whine and cry that pregnancy will never reach its end. I must admit that when I’m pushing 40 weeks gestation I’m perfectly happy to let my provider sweep my membranes and initiate those first labor contractions. For me this equates to 36 hours of labor that doesn’t really start to progress until hour 34, by which time I’m ready for a nap.
With my daughter, Juliette, I decided to stand resolute and practice what I preach. I didn’t allow my provider to perform cervical exams or sweep my membranes when I reached my due date. I wanted to find out what truly spontaneous labor felt like—and I discovered a genuinely amazing difference!
Twelve days past my due date, increasingly powerful contractions interrupted my slumber at approximately 2:00 a.m. I soaked in the tub breathing deeply for 45 minutes. At 2:45 a.m.I woke my husband to let him know it was time to wake our two little girls who wanted to attend the birth. He called the midwife and gathered our belongings including Disney movies, coloring books, and crayons. Then he aroused our daughters (6 and 8 years old) while I applied fresh makeup and styled my hair.
On our way to the hospital we stopped at the closest convenience store and let the girls select snacks to keep them content in case of a prolonged stay. At 3:05 a.m. we arrived at the hospital and checked in at the front desk.
In the elevator on the way up to the Labor & Delivery unit I wrapped my arms around my husband’s neck and whispered, “Maybe we shouldn’t have brought the girls. The pain is worse than I remember it. Perhaps I should just get an epidural.” My husband held me close and cooed softly, “You're doing just fine. I think your labor is progressing faster than normal.”
The elevator doors opened and we approached the nurse’s station with two grinning little girls. The nurse looked at our daughters with disdain as she hesitantly led us to Triage, seeming skeptical that I was really in labor. There I changed into a hospital gown and waited. I silently began doubting myself as I listened to the nurse advising my husband to take our daughters home before I lost composure.
Using external fetal monitors she registered my contractions for a few minutes and confirmed I was indeed in labor. Next she measured my cervix and began hooting with alarm, “She’s a 10! She’s complete! Somebody get me a wheel chair fast, this baby’s coming out!”
I stood up and explained, “I’d prefer to walk.” Halfway down the hallway I stopped for an extremely intense contraction. Suddenly my bag of waters ruptured all over my husband’s new running shoes. The contraction ended and I proceeded down the tiled hall toward my room. We entered my room at 3:15 a.m. The girls sat down and began to color at a table near the window.
I immediately crawled onto the bed positioned on my hands and knees with my eyes closed and exhaled slowly. Neil caressed the side of my face and encouraged me, “You’re doing great. I love you.”
Beginning to inhale, I opened my eyes and saw handle bars a few inches away from my fingers at the foot of the bed. I thought, “This could be all over in a minute.”
With both hands I firmly gripped the handle bars and held my breath. I bore down with one long and steady push. I heard the nurse exclaim, “Oh my! Is she pushing? Is that a head?” My husband announced, “Yes she is and yes that is!”
Juliette skipped out onto the bed toward the pillow. The nurse deftly scooped her up with fingers only partially inserted into latex gloves. I gave another push and the placenta followed. I immediately stood up to allow the nurse’s to change the chux pads and eliminate the birth fluids from the bed. My girls stared in amazement dropping the crayons in hand. Then they ran to the bed, excitedly plopping down next to me on clean linens. As a family we snuggled into Juliette’s first feeding and the girls asked me one question after another. “Wow, what’s that white stuff all over her body?” “Mama, did that hurt?” “What was that long thing hanging on our baby?” (umbilical cord) “Will you come watch when we have babies?”
It was a beautiful birthday and I felt so much gratitude to share it with my daughters. Being a woman is a privilege. We cook together, play together, paint toenails together and it’s an honor to birth together.