Saturday, March 23, 2013

Labor Day Birth Story: Part One

I have already written the basic version of this story down for our family scrapbook (I'm not that crafty. It's digital.), but I wanted to write down a more detailed version to share, mostly because reading birth stories was so encouraging for me while I was pregnant. They helped me remember how many women do this birth thing every day and even got me excited thinking about what my own story would be like. I really enjoyed the book Homebirth in the Hospital, which I rented from the library, and I've also heard a lot of good things about the books of Ina May Gaskin in that regard, but haven't read any of them myself yet. One of my favorite birth stories of all time though, comes from my friend Lizzie, who had her second child in her friend's car, and coincidentally introduced me to the idea of doulas and natural births before I was even pregnant. If you're interested in birth stories, it's a must read: here or here.

Anyway, here is part one of the story of my son's birth :

My first child was born on September 3, 2012, a Monday, but not just any Monday: Labor Day, which anyone can tell you is infinitely better than your average Monday, as well as an appropriate day to give birth. My husband Andy and I spent that weekend trying to distract ourselves from the fact the we had reached my due date and could still have up to two weeks of waiting before we met the baby. On Saturday, we went out for a fancy dinner, took a walk downtown, and rented a movie. On Sunday, we went to church, but sat in the the back and left early because I was getting so uncomfortable. I had no desire to go anywhere or see anyone for the rest of that day, so we just stayed in, worked on a puzzle, and had french toast with peaches for dinner. 

Peach french toast and labor are now forever connected in my mind.
I know now that that sudden, instinctual need to hide myself away from (almost) all people and activities was my body's way of preparing me for what it knew was coming. That night, I woke up at 3 a.m. feeling crampy. I tried to ignore it, but then I noticed that the pain was coming in waves. At 3:30, I woke Andy up and said, “I think something is happening.” We hung out in bed for a while, then ventured outside for a moonlit walk and started timing my pains, which were 5-10 minutes apart, but seemed to spread out further as we walked. We spent the rest of the dark, early morning hours trying to distract from the pain by working on the puzzle, then going for another walk. The second walk was longer, but didn’t seem to make a difference in the timing of the contractions, which were now a steady 3-5 minutes apart.

This is after another neighborhood walk taken a few weeks earlier. Notice the wet spot on my belly from where my raincoat wouldn't close. 
When we got back I took a shower, then we called our midwife and parents. The midwife said to call and head to the hospital when the contractions were 3-5 minutes apart for several hours. My parents headed down and Andy and I spent the next few hours packing up and timing contractions. Throughout this time I kept thinking, “If I have an average length labor, I should have this baby by midnight.” Since I was due just two days earlier, we had always joked about having the baby on Labor Day, and now it looked like that was actually going to happen! At 6 a.m. I remember thinking, “I’ve already been in labor 3 hours” and at 9, “I’ve already been in labor 6 hours.” As ridiculous as it sounds, I was amazed by how fast it seemed to be going by. I felt like I barely had time to even think about the fact that I was in labor. I would wander around the house breathing through the pain and yelling “Okay!” every time a contraction started so Andy could write the time on a piece of paper in between gathering up our stuff. I spent a good portion of that time sitting on the edge of our bed with a pillow in my arms, which seemed to be the most comfortable I could get. It didn’t even cross my mind to try most of the positions they taught us in birthing class. My body just knew what it wanted to do.

Around 11 a.m., Andy and I were siting back at the dining room table trying to work on the puzzle again, when I had three contractions in a row that were 2 minutes apart. Andy and I both looked and each other and said, “It’s time to go to the hospital.”  My parents pulled up as we were walking out to the car and my mom asked if we were going for a walk. I just said, “We’re going to the hospital.” She jumped in the car with us and called the midwife as Andy drove.

You can continue reading with Part Two of this birth story here

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