I can’t sleep. It’s been a few weeks of these Braxton Hicks contractions, and I’m tired. I roll over in bed and text my Doula about how annoyed I am, how I can’t get any rest, and tell her I’m so ready for this pregnancy to be over. I close my phone screen and lie down, closing my eyes for a moment.
My eyes blink open as my phone lightly beeps beside me. She’s always so quick to text me back, I love that about her. She reassures me that this is all normal and part of the process, and reminds me to try a warm bath or my meditation tapes. It’s not much, but she reminds me this is all okay and it’s alright that I’m frustrated. I feel a bit better and try to rest.
I wake up from a light nap a few hours later with something that feels like stronger cramps starting low in my belly. I call my Doula and have her listen to me breathe through a few contractions. All of a sudden I catch my breath. “Whooooo. Whoooo. That one felt different,” I say, while slowly breathing and rocking back and forth.
“Sounds like things are moving along! How about I come over and check on you?” She asks. I agree and thank her, glad to have someone besides my husband to reassure me through all of these changes. She arrives within the hour and sets up some soft lighting for me, talks to me about how I’m feeling, and rubs my feet while I rest between contractions.
Soon my water breaks and the contractions keep increasing in strength. I start to feel nervous, so I ask her if maybe it’s time to go to the hospital. She reminds me that it’s always my choice, and of the 511 rule. If my contractions have lasted a minute, 5 minutes apart, for longer than an hour, that’s a labor pattern and my midwife wants me to come in. I think about my options and decide it’s time to go, since I’ve been in a labor pattern for an hour. She carries our birth bags to the car for us and follows behind our car to the hospital.
As we get checked in to our room, she is already making me feel comfortable by setting out tea lights, playing my favorite music, and closing curtains and doors for privacy. I talk to my nurses and midwife, and find out I’m 5 cm dilated and 50% effaced. I feel really discouraged, and my Doula can see it on my face.
“Hey,” she says, “Remember that’s not a magic number, women can go from 5 cm to 10 cm in an hour. You’ve been doing work for weeks with these early contractions. Don’t let numbers get to you!” I know she’s right, but I still hoped I was almost done! I ask what we can do to keep things going, and she sets me up bouncing on a birth ball while some monitors are on my belly to keep track of my baby’s heartbeat and my contractions.
I tell her my back really hurts, so she suggests resting my chest on the birth ball on all fours, and that helps to take the pressure off. She massages my back, applies counter pressure, and squeezes my hips to help me through each and every contraction. She also does this amazing rebozo sifting that helps my stomach muscles relax between them. My husband stays in front of me holding my hands and talking to me. This works for a while and takes all the tension away from my back.
Soon I forget about the numbers and the contractions start to get back to the strong pattern they were at home. I ask for the monitors to be taken off and we take a long walk. I stop and breathe through contractions while my husband talks to me and my Doula does hip squeezes and sways with me. We stop in my room from time to time to get sips of water and use the restroom. When I start to pull my shoulders up and tense my body, she gently presses them back down and breathes with me. They anchor me through wave after wave, and the walking helps take my mind off of things.
Things are starting to get foggy, and I want some privacy. My husband notices and suggests ending our walk and heading back to the room. After I get a drink of water, my Doula offers to help me get into the shower to relax under the warm water for a while. She grabs my husband his bathing suit from our bags, some extra towels, and places a little speaker in the bathroom so I can hear my music. It’s like a little labor cave, and I feel so warm and safe.
When I come out of the shower, I feel things starting to shift again. I am shaking, like I’m shivering outside in the snow. My husband looks concerned, but our Doula reassures us both and reminds us about transition and how it can be different for everyone. “You’ve done so much hard work today, you’re doing great,” she says, as she firmly massages my arms and legs to help me with the shaking. This actually helps somehow, and I’m able to calm some of the panic I was feeling.
Soon my midwife checks me again, and I learn I’m 10 cm dilated and completely effaced! I’m ecstatic that I can finally do something instead of just breathing through contractions. I’m so ready to meet my baby!
I know that I can birth however I want, but I still ask my midwife if me being on all fours on the hospital bed is okay. She tells me to push however I feel comfortable, so I stay where I am and wait for the next contraction to build. She and my Doula stay by my side and help me use the strength of my contractions to push, and my husband tells me how amazing I’m doing.
When my husband shouts that he can see hair, I give it all I’ve got and push hard. There’s a collective gasp and then a brief hush fills the room, just before being pierced by my baby’s beautiful, beautiful cries. I reach down and pull her up through my legs and can’t believe what I’ve just done.
“I did it, I did it!”
I take in every little detail, every toe, every eyelash. My husband wipes away tears and kisses my forehead, telling me over and over how beautiful she is. It couldn’t be a more perfect birth day.
While this story is influenced by many of the births I have attended over the years, it is not a direct reflection of any one client’s birth experience. Thank you for reading and I would love to hear your comments!