The story of our first born’s birth is one that I will never forget. We were so excited to meet this baby we had so anxiously been waiting for. We opted not to find out what gender we were having—so fun.
My husband was already planning to be out of town for a friend’s wedding out of state, which was 10 days before the baby’s due date. He was the best man. I wasn’t too concerned about the baby coming while he was gone because I had not experienced ANY pre-labor symptoms (i.e. no Braxton Hicks, no excessive swelling). He left Friday, May 11th for the wedding and I had a LOT of work to do for an upcoming conference at the office the following week. I went in to work on Saturday the 12th for about five hours. The wedding was Sunday, May 13th and my husband headed back that night with three others in the car with him. I went to bed Sunday night as usual, but around midnight he called me. “Everyone is okay,” he said as soon as I answered the phone. “We are outside of Knoxville and we got in a little accident. The car hydroplaned.” I was actually surprisingly calm after hearing those words, probably due to the fact that I was still half asleep. He told me that he was waiting on the cops to show up and he needed to sort some things out, but that he’d call me back. I waited up for that second phone call and then went back to bed after I knew they were all okay. They stayed the night in Knoxville. (Side note: The car was totaled.)
Later that morning, Monday, May 14th, I woke up and got ready for work just like usual. My husband was going to be heading back with a rental car at some point so I just went on with my day. I worked really hard all day long. I was running back and forth all over the office trying to get everything ready for the conference the next day. I also had a temp that I was training who was going to cover for me when I finally had the baby. I felt really good, strong and comfortable. I had no pre-labor signs that I can recall. I had two pieces of leftover pizza for lunch.
My husband arrived home around 4 p.m. and I headed home shortly after that. We had made plans to have dinner with some friends. We ate at a great Italian place and I ordered the eggplant parmesan. I had started feeling a little pressure on my pelvic bone at this point in the day, but I just thought it was because I’d been so active all day and needed to get home and rest! Plus, I pretty much ate all of the food I was served and it was a lot! I didn’t normally consume that much food at a meal while pregnant, so I had overeaten and I felt every bit of it!
We got home from dinner, finished chatting with our friends, and finally went inside around 9:00 p.m. While we were still outside I had felt even more pressure on my pelvic area and thought it was strange. It was uncomfortable, but not painful. Just very heavy feeling.
We called my in-laws while we were getting ready for bed to discuss the car situation. My husband was exhausted from his weekend and we were both super excited to be going to sleep. As I was climbing into bed around 9:45 p.m., I got a very strong, sudden urge to use the restroom. I said, “Uh oh, gotta go!” I ran to the bathroom and made it to the toilet before I lost control of everything. And I do mean, everything. I was confused at first, but then I realized I had clear fluid coming out of me that had never happened before. I started laughing and yelling for my husband to come to the bathroom. I said, “I think my water just broke!” He was still on the phone with his parents, and came into the bathroom very tiredly. He said, “Are you sure?!” I pointed towards the toilet and said, “What does this look like to you??” I still had fluid pouring out. He was just as dumbfounded as I was, but all we could do was laugh. We were so disappointed as we realized we weren’t going to be sleeping that night.
I called the hospital midwife group to let the midwife on-call know and she told me that if I didn’t have contractions starting in the next 24 hours then I would need to come in. Otherwise, she told me to try to relax, take a bath, get some sleep if I could. Well, only about 10 to 15 minutes after hanging up with her, I started having intense contractions … all in my lower back. Nothing in the front. I went from zero to sixty like it was nothing! The midwife on-call at the time encouraged me to stay at home as long as I wanted to (or could), to shower or take a bath, to eat something and to rest if I was able. We were exhausted already, but so excited about the fact the time had come! We finished packing up our bags for the hospital between my contractions. We hadn’t really done that yet. I was able to laugh and move about pretty well for the first couple of hours. We had also texted or called family and friends to let them know we would be meeting our baby soon!
Well, I never got in the tub at home because it wasn’t clean at the time! I didn’t eat anything, but I did try to drink water. My husband went ahead and got into bed and while he wasn’t able to sleep solidly, he rested nonetheless. I was in and out of bed. I felt most comfortable swaying on all fours on my yoga mat on the floor during contractions. From 10:00 p.m. until 5:00 a.m., I was able to labor at home with contractions that were always fairly close together. Nothing more than about 5 to 6 minutes between usually and lasting for about a minute each time. I used some breathing techniques, but honestly in the moment moaning worked the best for me! Closer to 5:00 a.m. I was having my husband put counter pressure on my tailbone when I had a contraction. It was so painful to just be still through the contractions. It felt better if I was moving and had the counter pressure. I told him that we should probably think about heading to the hospital. I did end up throwing up into a trash can right before we left due to the pain. We loaded the car (yoga/birthing ball and all) and the last thing we did was clean out the trash can outside with the garden hose!
We arrived at the hospital around 5:30 a.m. on Tuesday, May 15th. We had to wait in the ER lobby for about 10 to 15 minutes for the L&D staff to come get us with a wheel chair. I ended up having to throw up again there. I refused to use a tiny “barf bag” and grabbed the ER lobby trash can instead! The ER staff wasn’t too pleased about it.
We got up to our room and I was happy to know that our birth plan was being followed. We got the room with the labor tub! The midwives were changing out when we got there and Linda would be the one helping to deliver my baby. My stats were checked with me in the hospital bed when I first came in. Everything looked really good, but I was only at 4 cm! I will say I was quite shocked I was only dilated that much. I thought for sure I’d be at least at 6 to 7 cm by then after 7 hours at home with intense contractions. I was asked if I wanted to use the labor tub and I said yes.
They began filling up the labor tub shortly after that. The anesthesiologist came in and gave me his spiel. I declined having anything. I was not afraid in the slightest. My attitude the whole time was, “I got this.” I had several contractions before getting into the tub around 6:00 a.m. Once I got in I realized just how amazing laboring in water was! The warm water really helped to relax me. I had requested that the room’s lights be dim and that the least amount of people were to be present for my labor and delivery. I was not required to have an IV and my husband kept me supplied with ice chips and one grape Popsicle between contractions. He said I would say, “Popsicle!” between contractions which was me indicating I wanted him to bring it to my mouth for a bite. Linda helped get me in more comfortable positions in the tub and she applied counter pressure to my back and I swayed my hips from side to side during contractions. I will add that I was quite vocal during the whole process. It helped to moan and I used a lot of, “Oh, God” through the process. It really was a prayer!
After about a half hour to an hour in the tub I was at 6 cm. About a half hour later, I was checked again and I was at 8 cm and she could feel hair! I started to get a very strong, uncontrollable urge to bear down. I thought I was about to poop in the tub! This baby wanted out! Linda said that was perfectly normal and to give in to the feeling if I needed to. As I was so close to 10 cm, Linda told me I needed to start getting out of the tub. The hospital was not licensed to have women actually birth in water. Just laboring. They had to drain the tub first, though, and that took about 10 to 15 minutes. I continued to have contractions while waiting to get out, and then somehow, I walked from the tub back to the bed in the room. At this point I was completely naked except for a big white sheet they gave me to wrap around myself. All shame had gone out the window. Once I got to the bed, I was checked again and I was closer to 10 cm in just that much time. There were two nurses in the room with the midwife at any given time and they were great. They were shocked that this was my first, that I was going all natural and that my blood pressure was as normal and steady as it was (130/70 about the whole time). I was feeling pretty good myself and was encouraged by their comments. The end was near! We were about to meet our precious baby. The sun was coming up and we had a beautiful view outside of our window. The atmosphere in the room was very calm and relaxed. There was no rushing and I was able to do everything as I was comfortable to.
I stayed in a semi-reclined position in the bed. William held one knee up and one of the nurses had the other side of me. I pushed as I was having contractions and about 20 minutes later I felt the “ring of fire”. That is a great way to describe that sensation. Nothing else like it! Once the head was out, I felt so much relief and I almost don’t remember the rest of the body coming out. It was the most beautiful feeling. It was done, the baby was here! I was so overwhelmed by it being over that I just put my head back on the bed. I heard my husband say, “It’s a boy!” I said, “It’s a boy?”, smiled and then laid my head back down. Our little Jack Bennett was here at 8:33 a.m. The nurses made sure he was breathing just fine and then immediately placed him on my chest. I was in absolute euphoric heaven! What an amazing experience. We had decided to delay the cord clamping for several minutes after birth, but then they asked my husband if he wanted to cut the cord. He did! I don’t remember if I tried nursing right then or after they weighed and measured him. He latched on really well from the very beginning. Yay, Jack! I remember telling my husband in the first 20 minutes or so after our son arrived, “That was amazing … I could do that again tomorrow!”
We were moved to a recovery room within a couple hours after he was born and that’s where we stayed until we left the next day. We left the following day around 3:00 p.m. The hospital staff said we probably could have left the same day he was born, if not for the circumcision. We had to wait until the next morning to have that done. That was the only time he left my side and I cried of course. I wanted to be with him for that traumatic experience, but I guess I probably shouldn’t have been.
The whole experience was awesome and I would do it again without hesitation. I kept expecting the pain to get worse and it never did. I just kept my focus on each contraction progressing me closer to meeting my baby. I kept my eyes closed for most of my labor and it helped to keep my thoughts internal and not to vocalize anything negative that might have gone through my head at any point in time. My husband was great and stood by in case I needed to touch his hand or hear his voice. The midwife really knew what to do and I’m thankful because I know that my husband was exhausted from the events of his weekend. Giving in to the pain, letting my body progress naturally and not being fearful were the most helpful things.
Fast forward to now: We are pregnant again! Jack is almost 19 months, and I’m actually anxious about the experience not being as good. I mean, other than going faster than 11 hours, I don’t know how it could be better?
Send us your birth story! Whether you had a home birth, hospital birth, 37-hour labor or emergency C-section, we’d love to read the tale of your little one’s grand entrance. Write up your birth story (click here for tips on getting started) and email it, along with a few photos, to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll share it on our Birth Day blog and may even print it in an upcoming issue!