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Knowing when to go: The birth of Ola Mae Unmedicated

Knowing when to go: The birth of Ola Mae

"My husband was still skeptical, but I couldn't lie down to rest and was only able to handle the contractions on our bed on all fours."

The first baby isn’t always as pokey as they say.

My husband and I were expecting our first baby on May 23rd. (Well, you know, or around there somewhere.) We took a nine week Bradley class to prepare for it. We learned a million relaxation techniques, lines of defense against overeager doctors and interventions, and reasons why we shouldn’t go to the hospital too early. We practiced and role-played, we bought energy snacks, essential oils, and birthing apparel.

In the end, we didn’t get to employ a whole lot of technique besides the butt in the air in the back of the car to hold the baby in. But, who knows what would have happened if our instructor hadn’t demonstrated that move.

I was cleaning the house Sunday night and started having cramps that became mild contractions around 9 p.m. I figured it was false/practice labor, and continued cleaning so I wouldn’t get my hopes up and to maybe get it going if it was real. I continued to work on stuff (and drink water) around the house until about 11 p.m. and it was totally bearable. I didn’t even tell my husband until then, and was just kind of like, “I’m having some contractions, I’m going to take a shower and go to bed and see if they stop.” He was kind of like, “Okay, whatever.”

But they didn’t stop. Instead they got pretty painful and when I timed them they were alternating between 2 and 4 minutes apart, lasting about a minute each time. My husband was still skeptical, but I couldn’t lie down to rest and was only able to handle the contractions on our bed on all fours. When we called my cousin (a midwife) and my midwife at 1 a.m. they both told us “It’s your first baby, you’ve got a LOT of time ahead of you, try and stay home and relax. My midwife said I could come to the hospital if I really wanted to, but I probably wouldn’t be far along enough for her to admit me to the birthing room and I’d be walking the halls.

We tried a warm bath, but I couldn’t take that anymore, so I went back to the bed and all-fours thing again. I hadn’t finished packing, thinking I would be able to pack during early labor, so my husband ran around the house on a pretty ridiculous scavenger hunt packing (bronzer! makeup brushes!) and trying to make it back to the bedroom for my contractions, but at that point I didn’t really want to be touched or need anything from him anyway. He did try everything support-wise he learned in class and was totally awesome, but I (somehow) politely declined.

At around 2:30 a.m. it got to the point where I was so loud and actually moaning/screaming in these rhythmic little bursts exactly like in the videos we’d watched (you do it without meaning to and it actually helps a lot) and when I couldn’t imagine worse pain existed that we both decided to ignore everybody’s advice because I needed to get to the hospital and fast.

Getting to the car took a few contractions. My husband took the carseat out so I could get in my position in the back seat. I was REALLY loud and probably scaring the crap out of him at this point. The hospital is about 15 to 20 minutes from our house when you observe all traffic laws. We got there in about 10, because soon after we left my water burst and I felt a strong urge to push. My husband narrated our location as we drove, which I really recommend to any dad in this situation. It was very helpful because I couldn’t bring myself to look out the window and felt like it would take an eternity to get there. We pulled up to the ER, he left the car where it was, they put me in a wheel chair and arranged for the midwife who was (thank god) already there for another birth to meet us at labor and delivery. They tried to ask me a bunch of questions on the way up until my husband was like “REALLY?!!! Do you think you could just ask me?” The orderly pushing the chair was very efficient, but we still had to go through a series of halls and two elevators. We were lucky enough to get the fancy Alternative Birthing Center room, but we barely used it. I ripped my clothes off, dove for the bed, and had the next contraction as my midwife checked me. I was 10 centimeters. I started pushing with the contractions as they tried to get a fetal monitor on me and in only nine minutes and nine pushes, my baby was out!

She cried right away, and they put her on my back (since I was still in my all fours thing). Then I turned over and got more comfortable, they put her on my chest, we checked and discovered she was a girl, the cord stopped pulsing and my husband cut it, I delivered the placenta (which was easy and felt pretty good), I got a few stitches, and we were done. Ola Mae was here: 7 pounds, 7 ounces.

We were moved to a postpartum room a few hours later since there were other births coming. I was group-B strep positive, and since we didn’t get a chance for the antibiotics we had to stay at the hospital for 48 hours while Ola’s blood culture grew, but I have to say that everyone we encountered during our stay there was amazingly friendly, helpful, and attentive from room service and housekeeping to the nurses (I love the nurses), our pediatrician, and the sassy phlebotomist that swore a lot. My husband didn’t appreciate people coming in the room every couple of hours and waking me to take vitals or draw blood or bring food or water, but I felt very cared for. Wednesday we got the good-to-go results on the culture and got home around 1 p.m.

I realize my story is kind of rare, and I don’t know how helpful it will be for anyone who reads it, but that’s what happened. I will say that, yes, my labor was really fast, but it was INTENSE. I feel like it was mostly very active labor and transition and there were a lot of times contractions would come one after another after another and I was wishing I had gotten a more gradual progression and some breaks to rest. It did end up going so fast that I didn’t need the rest, but when we left for the hospital I will admit that I was thinking I would get the epidural if they told me I was only a few centimeters. It really helped to have the advice: “When it gets that bad, it’s probably transition and you are almost done.” That’s how I knew it was time to go.

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 birthstory@pnmag.com. We’ll share it on our Birth Day blog and may even print it in an upcoming issue!