When I first learned I was pregnant with my daughter, I was surprised and excited all at once. Yeah! A second baby! There was just one itsy-bitsy problem. Her due date was just four days after my birthday. I have to be honest. I didn’t want to share my birthday. Birthdays are so exciting for kids. She should have a big day for us to celebrate just her. But I wasn’t really worried: my son had been 10 days early, so I figured there wasn’t a strong likelihood that I would still be pregnant on my birthday.
Braxton hicks contractions started pretty early in my pregnancy. As the pregnancy went on, the contractions got harder and more frequent. By 37 and a half weeks, they were strong and regular. Every afternoon, they would be strong enough and regular enough for me to start timing them. I would look at my husband and say, “You may want to keep your phone on, this might be it.” And every evening, the contractions would fizzle out. It was so frustrating! This went on for eleven long days.
Finally, it was my birthday. And still no baby. That afternoon, the contractions started again. “Whatever,” I thought, “More Braxton hicks…” By dinner, however, I started to think this might really be it. I didn’t feel like eating much (not even cake) and was just trying to stay as comfortable as possible. After 11 days of false alarms, my husband and sister weren’t in any hurry to believe this was actual labor, and I can’t blame them. So I concentrated on relaxing every muscle in my body, drank water, and waited for the contractions to stop.
Around 7 p.m. we realized this was the real deal. I was FINALLY in active labor. My head started swirling: “It is time! Wait! No! Not today! Aaaah! A contraction! Relax… relax… relax…” I leaned over a birth ball and kept repeating “relax… relax… relax…” in my head over and over. I was relying on every trick I had learned while studying self-hypnosis to stay calm and relaxed. The contractions were pretty uncomfortable (I was having back labor), but my husband pressed on my back really hard and that relieved a lot of the pressure. (Did I mention he’s pretty much the greatest husband ever? Calm, super supportive of my crazy natural birth ideas and everything I needed during labor.) I wanted to labor at home as long as possible, but by 10 p.m. I started shaking uncontrollably. At that point, we decided to head to the hospital.
The hospital staff put up with me and my desire for a natural birth, but I could tell it wasn’t what they wanted to be doing. But my doctor was very, very supportive. Once he arrived, I was definitely in transition. But the labor was very manageable. Not painful. I was shocked at how much staying relaxed and calm helped. At some point I looked at my husband and asked, “Is it midnight yet?” He answered, “Not yet.” Darn!
At 9.75 cm, my doctor suggested we break my water and have this baby. When that water broke, my labor went from manageable to nearly unbearable. I was definitely ready to push!
The next 15 minutes were a blur. There was pushing, stuck shoulders, nurses making snarky comments, a wonderful husband trying to help me keep calm, stuck hips, one more push … Then, suddenly, 32 minutes after midnight, my daughter arrived! She was beautiful, with red hair, and was over nine pounds! She had her very own birthday, and I was thrilled! Bring on the snuggling (and the cutie dresses)! I know I will never, ever get a better birthday present than I got that day: my little Amelia Jean.