I wrote this a few weeks after my daughter was born. Nearly 2 years ago!!! 1. where does the time go? 2. I had to make very few changes. I still feel so much the same. Wonder wonder of motherhood!
March 31st 2010 - I had a follow-up with my OB. The nurse asked me if I was having any contractions or Braxton-Hicks. I said no. Then she asked me more questions – was my belly getting tight & hard like a basketball? Did I have intermittent back pain? Did I have pressure across the bottom of my abdomen? To each question, I answered “yes.” And to each “yes,” she responded: “that’s a contraction.” The doctor asked whether I wanted an exam to see how far dilated I was. I opted out, knowing that it didn’t really tell anything about how soon my daughter would arrive. I went home under the impression that I’d been having Braxton-Hicks contractions and not knowing it. I chalked this up to having expected worse pain based on others’ accounts.
I got home and explained to Barry about the contractions. We both laughed. Around 5 or 5:30, I noticed that the contractions were more frequent than previous and assumed I was just more mindful of them. We watched some TV and hung out. Then, around 7 or 8, I noticed that these feelings were more or less 12 minutes apart. I had really wanted not to deliver on my due date. I thought my daughter should not be an April Fools’ baby! I decided I was not in labor. I told my husband to go ahead and play his game on line, and that I was going to bed and assumed it would all go away by morning and that we’d have her over the weekend. I lay in bed from 9 to 11, jumping up about every 5 minutes to have a contraction, which I continued to take as GI distress. Finally, around 11, I could deny it no longer. I’d been having regular contractions for hours. In my head, I forgot about 5 to 9, and thought I’d been in labor since 9. Therefore, I thought I had hours & hours more to go. Barry called our doula and the doctors’ office, telling both we didn’t need them just yet. For about an hour, my husband & I handled the contractions together – except by that point I was in a rhythm and really most comfortable sitting on the toilet during the contraction. I alternated that with bending over either the bed or the bathroom counter. Yoga was so much a part of my life at this point, that I was doing the breathing without having to really tell myself to.
At midnight, we decided Barry should get some rest --- it was going to be a long day and one of us should be rested. I continued to have regular contractions, about 5 minutes apart and increasing in intensity. At 2:30, I woke up, because I wanted support through the contractions. However, I was so “in my zone,” that I kept basically pushing him away to have them solo! He prepped our bags and made some preparations around the house for our departure. We called our doula and the hospital to tell them we were on our way around 4:30.
I settled into our Honda Pilot backwards & managed to strap in – not sure what would have happened in a collision! As we went over the first bump, my water broke – big time! It continued to leak the whole way to the hospital.
When we arrived, I sent Barry ahead to the check-in, while I went to the bathroom right inside to have another contraction! The nurse was ready for me when I got in. She was wonderful! She had clearly seen her share of births and was very familiar with and respectful of the items in my birth preferences. She did an exam and asked, “How long were you in labor at home?” I said only since 9; she seemed a little disbelieving and went on to say that I was almost ready to push. I sort of didn’t believe that!
The weirdest thing was how I just wanted to be on the toilet. At this point, our doula talked me through the contractions. I’d done well at home with keeping the rest of my body relaxed, and Barry had reminded me to keep my exhale-hums in low tones. I was no longer doing those things! Our doula reminded me to and also directed my focus. She also gave Barry a break! The nurse did another exam, and she said she could feel the baby's head. She paged the desk to ask if the midwife, Evelyn, was there yet. She told me in the meantime that if Evelyn didn’t get in the room in a few minutes that I could go ahead and push. Evelyn was there and came right in. She asked for the bar to be removed and had me lay back. I was a bit surprised but it actually felt good at this point to recline. Our doula and nurse held my legs back into a squat-like position. Barry was right by my head and swabbing my face with a cool damp cloth. They told me I could push, and I think I said I didn’t remember how! I also remember thinking, “fine. I’ll push, but a baby is not going to come out of me!” I tried once and didn’t feel like I’d done it right. I tried again and felt like I knew what to do. I pushed hard, and Evelyn said the head was out. (I remember that I had wanted to feel her head as she crowned, but it all happened so fast that I didn’t even think of it!) I pushed again, and Evelyn said she was out. I was so relieved. I heard her crying, but it was almost through a fog. I still almost didn’t believe it! Then they placed her on my belly. It was a strange sensation: the same weight but clearly different. I had asked for skin-to-skin contact; it had all happened so fast that I was still wearing my nightgown! We got it off pretty quickly, and it was just a wonderful feeling. They didn’t even wipe her off. It was the most natural, amazing experience.
As the two of us lay there, Barry talked quietly to us and told me he loved me and was so proud of me. Our daughter was so beautiful from the first moment. Thanks to the quick delivery, she had a perfectly shaped head!
Every moment was a wonder. Every moment since has been an amazing learning experience.
We didn’t know either how hard or how wonderful parenthood would be. Although I feel like I’d tried to prepare for parenthood as I had for birth, I also feel like I was not nearly so well prepared. I’ve mused since about why that is. I think it’s for multiple reasons. 1. With the birth, I was able to get totally out of my head & simply trust my body. In parenthood, you have to consider long-term consequences. In modern society, our instincts don’t always mesh with reality! 2. Ignorance is bliss. I almost feel like denying I was in labor for so long helped me get through it with such flying colors! 3. The birth lasted a finite amount of time. I always knew I could get through it because, no matter what, there was a defined ending. Parenthood has no end. It almost seems like every day the enormity of the enterprise grows in my eyes! 4. My love for my daughter has no end. Everyone tells you that you don’t know how much you’ll love your children until you have them. In that sense, you’re sort of prepared. BUT, it’s true – you love them so much more than you ever thought possible, and there’s really no way to be prepared for it!
All in all – you care more than you ever have before in life, and you’re less sure of yourself than ever before … even without the hormones & sleep deprivation!