I was very blessed to have a healthy, by-the-book pregnancy, so going into the birth of my son, it was easy for me to have the mindset that my body knew exactly what she needed to do. Starting at 37 weeks I was 3cm dilated 77% effaced and began to feel what was "prodromal labor", known as false labor. This would continue until week 40, (luckily I had a doula, Maggie, who did not mind my constantly thinking I was in labor!) However, once I reached my due date on 10/1, it all disappeared. For days after, I felt completely normal. Each morning I would wake up grumpy and yes, STILL pregnant. The soonest my doctor could schedule me for an induction would have me at 41 weeks 6 days. All of this was extremely disheartening. I began to lose hope that my body would ever go into spontaneous labor. On Tuesday, 10/5 I was 40 weeks 5 days. I awoke with menstrual-like cramps that slowly gained intensity throughout the day. Having experienced so many bouts of false labor, I bounced on my yoga ball, sipped on my tea, and watched a movie. This couldn't be real because, "I'll know when it's the real thing," right? The day went on as normal, leave it to me to accidentally throw in a shopping trip to Burlington while I'm in labor! Around 9:30 pm my cramps began to intensify and I had the urge to sit on my knees with my head on the couch. By 11 pm I texted my doula, letting her know what I was feeling. I told her how I was going to sleep and if I woke up in the middle of the night then it's real. Even while experiencing what is clearly early labor, I thought nothing of it. I just knew I would wake up the next day still pregnant. Then it happened. At 1:13 am I awoke to myself screaming in pain. A contraction. Hooray! Ten minutes later, another. I called my doula and told her it was go time. Suddenly,my contractions jumped from 10 minutes apart to 2 minutes apart. I got in the bathtub while my husband put the warm water on my back while I breathed. We called triage, who directed us that it was time to come in. Something to know about me is how committed I was to an unmedicated birth. I was fearful of the complications certain interventions may lead to. On the way to the hospital, I knew I was asking for medication as soon as I could. We arrived at triage at 3:30 and by 4:15 we were brought to labor and delivery, with my doula set to arrive at 7 am. I was given morphine which allowed me, and subsequently my husband, to sleep until our doula arrived. The morphine didn't numb the pain, but it certainly helped me not to care about the pain. As I rested, I heard a birth in a room nearby. How exciting, how beautiful! Me next! Our doula arrived and went straight to work. She knew I wanted an unmedicated birth, so when the contractions came, I had her riding every wave with me. We utilized a birthing ball, I breathed lavender essential oil, and I labored. The contractions became unbearable, and I soon realized that there is no trophy for the pain. There was no need for me to be in that much pain once I decided I didn't want the pain anymore. At 8:45, I was given an epidural. I initially felt like I had failed my unmedicated birth, but I promise that feeling went away as soon as my epidural kicked in. Thanks to my epidural *chef's kiss*, I was high on pure oxytocin for hours! We were able to maintain a calm atmosphere in the room, I huffed lavender, we laughed, my husband was even able to play his Nintendo Switch for a few minutes. At 10 am, I began to feel the urge to push. I was 9 1/2 centimeters dilated, it wasn't time yet. My doula knew breathing exercises to help me fight off the urge. At this point, I began to shiver, which my doula recognized as the "transition" phase of labor. By 11 am I was 10cm dilated and had a room full of the most awesome hospital staff. We were ready to do this. MY doula knew I did not want to push on my back, and I was able to deliver in throne position. We blasted my "Push Playlist" and got to it! By the way, in between pushes more hospital staff would come in because they heard my playlist was fire. It's true, it was. Pushing is a mind game. Can you do it? How about again? For longer this time? It took me a minute to figure out how to do it. My midwife reminded me to make low noises so I can stay in control. It is so amazing what a woman can do because once I figured it out, there was nothing I'd rather do in that moment then meet my baby. After an hour of pushing, my little Theo was born at 12:21 pm.
I am often asked how my birth was, and the look of surprise when I explain how much I loved labor and delivery never gets old. It's true, I did love labor and delivery, because I was educated, I had amazing support, and I was able to stay in control by making informed decisions about my birth even in the delivery room. Everyone in the room had a job to do and served a function, it very much felt like a collaboration. Most importantly, my body did everything she needed to do to bring this baby into this.