It was June 17th, 2018, Father’s Day, & I was due on June 19th. My husband’s birthday is the day after Christmas and he loves to point that out, so having a baby on Father’s Day could potentially be his first, & definitely overused dad joke. I went to a kickboxing class and participated in an impressive amount of it. Later, Alex’s sister, Nicole, came over and helped us put together the pack & play we thought the baby would sleep in for the first couple of nights. (I wasn’t into the idea of a bassinet). Father’s Day came & went with no signs of baby. Many women told me that as soon as I feel ready the baby will know it’s ok to come. I went to sleep saying “anytime little one, we’re ready for you”. Baby A was listening.
Around 4 am I woke up to a big gush of fluid. I didn’t even question it. I knew my water broke. I stood up and said “baby, baby! My water broke” as it continued to woosh out on the floor. I ran into the bathroom to clean up, took a shower, then came back to bed. I was told to try to sleep if it happens in the middle of the night & I was sticking to my plan!! I may have dozed off a couple times between 4:00 & 5:00 when my first contraction started. It wasn’t too bad. “Eat!” I remembered & said at the same time. My midwife told me to eat in the beginning. Alex made me breakfast & I relocated to the living room to bounce and roll on my stability ball. I ate. I tried and watching a couple episodes of Friends. We called my doula & midwife next to let them know things were getting started. They both said “chill” and let us know when the contractions are consistent. My midwife, Mimi, told us to take a walk around the block.
I could barely walk because every three steps I had another contraction. They weren’t horrible honestly, but they also weren’t something I could walk through. When we got back in the house Alex put me on my side, per Mimi’s suggestion, and lifted my top leg. That REALLY got things going. My contractions started getting stronger and were very close together. The fear in Alex’s face was evident and my 11.5 year old boxer, Micky, was right by my side. Alex called my doula, Trudy, and said “I think you need to come now”.
When Trudy arrived it was like an ocean of calm washed over us. Everyone felt better. She said that even though the contractions were close together, they were sporadic, and until they even out I am not truly in active labor. That happened quickly. She brought me into the bathroom and I had a bloody show. She turned me around for my next contraction and had me put my hands on the sink while she massaged the back of my pelvis. After a few minutes in the bathroom she brought me into the living room and put my hands on the side of the couch. That time she peaked around my shoulder to look me in the eye & asked “when you workout, how hard do you push yourself?”. “Umm… all the way?” I said. I had another contraction in that moment and this time I felt like I wanted to push. We both looked at each other & said at the same time “I think it’s time to go”.
Off to the birth center!! We arrived at 12 pm. We went straight into the room we reserved and Mimi & her assistant Donna started to fill the laboring tub. She laid me down on the bed to do an internal exam & determined I was already 8 cm dilated! WHOA!
I got into the water. It felt great. Within an hour I was 10 cm dilated. The pushing was beyond my control, but it was definitely time to push. Contractions were manageable. I was focused. I knew how I wanted this to go and I saw no point in dwelling on the pain level. Mimi was continuously taking my blood pressure and listening to Baby A’s heartbeat. It was going up and down with contractions, as it is supposed to in labor. Trudy was keeping me focused on my breath and calm. Alex was pressing a cold compress on the back of my neck and giving me tiny sips of coconut water to keep me hydrated. I couldn’t talk. I was in the zone.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get leverage and bear down in the birthing tub. Mimi had me get out and sit on the toilet to see if gravity could help. Then she asked me to stop pushing and that was the hardest thing I’ve ever been asked to do in my life. The urge is SO STRONG. Every time a wave would come I would shiver and tremble trying not to give in. Next they had me stand up with my arms wrapped around Alex and move like we were slow dancing. Trudy continued to massage my lower back. Finally, I laid down on the bed. This was hour three of pushing and not making progress.
For the next hour, Alex held my right leg back and the back of my head. Trudy held my left leg. Mimi massaged my perineum and instructed me when to push and when to stop. This final hour felt like it would never end. At some point Mimi told me to feel what was going on down there and I could feel the head!! OMG the baby is finally coming out!! It felt like I was pushing the head out forever, and it BURNED. The ring of fire is real. When the head was finally out, Mimi said “two good pushes”. I don’t know if it was 1 or 2 or 10, but suddenly my baby was on my chest. All I could say was “oh my god, oh my god, oh my god”. Mostly because I wasn’t sure it would ever end. Plus, being stuck in the birth canal for that long gave my baby a pretty intense cone head. The umbilical cord had been wrapped around baby’s neck so his little body was white and face and head were purple. There was no crying. Just baby’s body on mine while they wiped and covered him up. Of course I didn’t know if it was a boy or girl yet and finally Alex asked “well, what is it?”. I told him to look for himself and tell me. “Its a boy”.
The boy that we hoped for. Ace Nicolas Christodoulou. 7 lbs. 2 oz. 18 ¾ “ born at 3:56 pm.
The next hour was spent with Ace lying on my chest, umbilical cord still connecting us. We FaceTimed my mom, grandma and Alex’s sister and told them to come meet him. They didn’t even know I was in labor all day. Ace finally started crying and letting us know just how upset he was about his cone head. After an hour of connecting with my baby, they weighed him & daddy cut the cord. I planned to give Ace organic, oral Vitamin K, but given the big hematoma on his head, Mimi recommended we give him the shot right then. I couldn’t disagree.
About 4 hours later on our way out, Ace calmed down enough for me to try breastfeeding. He latched and got some colostrum in before we packed up the car and went home for night 1!
I was sore and excited to go home to sleep in my own bed!
I never once had a thought of wanting drugs for pain. I never once was scared or doubted my decision to give birth in a birth center. I trusted my team and most importantly, I trusted my body. My body grew this perfect little baby, and my body will bring it into the world the way it is meant to be. I would do this again, exactly the same way, 100 times.