There are many events in the two days before Mayla was born that likely helped bring on labor. On January 2nd, I went to my midwife, and had my membranes swept, and then had an intense acupuncture session. The next morning I woke up, (not in labor) and was extremely emotional about it. I WAS SO DONE WAITING!! That day I went for a 3 mile hike through the woods and an hour long gator ride on bumpy back roads, in a desperate attempt to bounce dat baby out of me. That evening, two hours after the hike and gator ride, starting around 5 (though id been having irregular contractions all day) contractions started getting uncomfortable in a way I hadn’t felt before. They were coming regularly too, about every 5-6 minutes. They were totally tolerable but definitely got my attention. They continued without signs of stopping and got worse to the point I started having some difficulty talking through them.
At about 10 p.m. they actually got bad enough that I knew for sure something new was happening and decided I wanted to go to the hospital because they were about 45 seconds long, every 4 minutes, and they HURT. So me, Joe and my mom went to the hospital and checked into triage to get me checked. The second contraction while I was in the hospital brought with it my bloody show!! I was excited because now I KNEW something was happening!! My doula showed up, but they checked my cervix and I was still only 1 cm dilated and 50-60% effaced with her head in a -3 position. I was definitely discouraged. They wanted me to stay and walk through contractions but I was exhausted and wanted to just rest in between so I figured it’d be best to go home to do so. Before we left, my doula showed my mom and Joe the move that was my LIFESAVER during my entire labor, squeezing my hips or the hip joint from both sides inwards as hard as they could. It was one of the only things making contractions tolerable and looking back I really couldn’t have made it if I hadn’t known that move.
We got home at around 1 a.m. January 4th, and the three of us agreed that Joe should sleep while my mom took over helping my contractions. (Joe has a shoulder injury that made it hard for him to do the hip squeezes.) So Joe went to bed in the other room and my absolutely wonderful mother stayed up all night helping me. Contractions were steadily 4 minutes apart, painful, and each one required help with my hips to control the pain. I also used a hot rice pack on my low back. During this time the affirmation I kept reminding myself with was “these contractions are not stronger than me, because they are me.” I knew my body was making them and that it wouldn’t give me more than I could handle, but I’ll tell ya, during those hours I was sure I would not deliver naturally. I knew I was only in early labor and if it was this bad, how could I possibly handle how much stronger it would get without medicine?
At about 7 in the morning, after 6 straight hours of “sleeping” two or three minutes before me waking and moaning through another contraction while my mom squeezed my hips, my mother was exhausted and needed backup and I wanted nothing more than to just really truly sleep. Knowing that wasn’t gonna happen without strong drugs I just kept working through one contraction at a time. My mom called a friend of ours who is like another mum to me to come over to take over hip squeezing since my mother was dead tired by now and Joes shoulder couldn’t handle the (extremely strenuous) task.
No sooner had she called her when something changed. I don’t know how to describe it but intensity went up with no warning. The pain was brutal. I got extremely nauseous and am surprised I didn’t vomit. I thought “this can’t be transition already, can it?!” But transition or not I knew it was time to go to the hospital. My mom was hesitant, thinking they’d send us back home but I insisted because I KNEW something was changing. We were on out way in no time. When we got there my midwife checked me at 10 a.m. and boom! 100% effaced, 5 cm dilated and Mayla’s head was in a -1 position! My mom was shocked how much progress I’d made and though I wasn’t surprised I was definitely relieved. It was so wonderful for all of us knowing that this was finally it, and I was having a baby! No induction needed! My doula was on her way and they asked if I wanted to try the jacuzzi to which I said yes absolutely! I was excited; I knew it’d feel great. I was very shocked when I got in and found that wow, that was not the case. Joe was in the tub with me and in between contractions it was really wonderful to lay back against him but those were short rests and during my actual contractions I could find zero relief. It was unbearable and I was probably only in the tub 20 minutes before wanting to head to my room.
Now, the room I got is actually very special. :) Not only is it the very biggest labor & delivery room in the hospital, but it is the very room that my own mother labored in with me! :’) (I was born in a different room via cesarian but we labored in the very same room!)
So anyhow, I got back to the room, and, exhausted, I laid down on my side in the bed immediately and proceeded to enter the most surreal part of my labor. As I was told afterwards by everyone who witnessed it, I appeared to not only not be in any pain, but I also appeared to have just completely left the room. The part about me not being in pain could not have been less true, but I really did enter an altered state. The pain of each contraction was such that following a brief moan at the beginning of each one I would roll my head up and stare blankly at the trim around the ceiling completely silenced and mentally paralyzed by the pain. At that point it was the very worst thing I’d ever experienced. At the beginning of each contraction I would lift the leg which was facing upwards and one person in the room would hold my knee and foot as I twisted and stretched my leg in it’s hip joint throughout the contractions while another person would simultaneously put counter pressure down onto my hip or back. This became a pattern and the contractions carried on silently for what I would’ve guessed was an hour, but I later learned was 4 and a half. As I rested in between each rush and I was vaguely aware of people switching turns doing the two movements but I never paid attention to who and what. The room was dead silent and like I said, the pain took me away to somewhere I was unreachable. At some point during this time my primal state took over and I tore off the hospital gowns I was wearing and continued the rest of my labor & delivery naked. Later on every person who was in the room told me how peaceful I Iooked and I was shocked, considering the chaos that was going on for me physically. My mother, after 4 hours even pulled my midwife aside and asked if possibly my labor had slowed down or stopped, so my midwife suggested checking me. I agreed, and I was all the way to 8 cm.
Very shortly after she checked, something changed again, and my body began trying to push. This frightened me. I knew I was not ready to push because I’d just been at 8 but with each contraction the need got stronger so by my doula’s suggestion I got up and went to the bathroom to labor in a squatted position on the toilet. Looking back, this was my entrance to transition, by far THE most difficult part of my labor. Once on the toilet and having the weight bearing down, the need to push got uncontrollable and every contraction, my body would push, hard, and it was agonizing. I am really glad Joe was not there during time I labored in the bathroom. The place I was in would have likely been terrifying to watch. This is the first time since being at the hospital that medicine crossed my mind, and I demanded it. I was no longer in control and the pain took over. Every contraction brought wild sounds from my mouth. A few screams, lots of low growls and hmm shall I say caveman noises? Along with these were the very typical vocalized thoughts which come with transition. I would say “I WONT DO THIS.” “I’m not going to do this anymore.” “I want the medicine now.” “I’m done.” “I don’t want to do this.” Nobody listened. Just kept physically supporting me through the contractions and telling me how great I was doing, how close I was, that I would meet my baby soon, and even making labor noises with me. With each contraction it became more obvious that I was pushing harder and it was so unbearable to not be able to push with my body so my midwife checked me again to see if maybe I was dilated and ready to push. I was at a 9 and now that I was upright she could tell my water bag still had not broken, so we discussed the advantages and risks of breaking it, and I agreed that I’d like it broken. She did so. Maybe two or three contractions later I was ready to try something new and so I left the bathroom and started bouncing on the birth ball while leaning my upper body on the bed. Though I had forgotten it through the entirety of my labor thusfar, I looked up and saw my mother had hung up my birthing necklace. I focused all my energy onto it.
Since my water had been broken each contraction made me bear down more and I no longer had control, was giving in and pushing with them, hard. Because of this my midwife had me hop up on the bed to be checked again to see if I was ready. I was finally fully dilated except for a tiny lip on the front, so with my next contraction my midwife had me push as she pushed on the lip and just like that, it slid back and I was fully dilated at 3:20 pm! Time to push!
I knew I wanted to try squatting while I pushed, so they lowered the bottom of the bed so it was like a chair almost, and set up a squat bar for me to pull up to to hang on during pushes. Throughout my whole labor thusfar I didn’t mind (nor notice) who was or wasn’t around me so long as there was always someone putting the pressure on my hips and doing whatever else helped at the time, but when I started pushing I noticed Joe wasn’t there and I started wailing for him. He was only in the bathroom and was back soon but that minute or so of not knowing where he was or why he wasn’t there was terrifying and felt like a century. My midwife began holding warm cloths on my perineum and continued to do so for the entirety of my pushing. My doula tied a scarf around the bar for me to use to pull myself up at the beginning of each contraction. I did this squatting for a while, maybe 5-10 contractions, but between each one I’d collapse in exhaustion on the bed. The effort it took to pull myself back up at the beginning of each contractions became too much so I laid on my side and put my right foot up on the squat bar for leverage and to allow the most possible room in between my legs for Mayla to come through.
It took a while to learn how to push effectively. During every other part of labor it’s so important to try to relax your muscles and breathe, deeply and continuously, never holding your breath, and to use low moans or growls to help you through. So I began pushing by inhaling and I would push as I exhaled with a loud moan. This caused the pushes to be very short and not very powerful. Eventually with help from my doula and midwife I learned that when I felt a contraction starting, that I should inhale deep, hold it, and then bear down with every bit of muscle and power in me while holding my breath, exhaling when I reached my limit, taking a few quick breaths and repeating this as many times as I could during each contraction. I could usually fit 2 long powerful pushes into each contraction, sometimes a third. As hard of work as it was I was very thankful that I was past transition, nearing the end, and able to do something with my contractions instead of just having to experience them helplessly. The entire time I was pushing, Joe was next to me, moaning with me, telling me how great I was doing and how proud of me he was, and holding wet washcloths on my head.
When Mayla’s head first started coming through I experienced the burning sensation most people describe, and it would ease as her head slipped back inside in between pushes. Eventually she was crowning, without slipping back inside and my midwife asked me if I wanted to feel her head. I reached down and felt her damp fuzzy head and felt Joe’s fingers next to mine and just completely lost it. Tears came to my eyes and I cried out “My baby! Mayla! That’s my baby!” while totally brimming with joy. I looked at the people there with me saying “I did it! I did it!” because that’s when I realized that I really had. The strength that came with feeling her there, so close to life overcame me and the next few contractions I pushed with were stronger than anything I have ever done with my body. A contraction started, and I inhaled and pushed harder and longer and stronger and in a moment I felt a pop and complete relief and relaxation flowed over me and I let out a cry realizing that was her head!! Before I even knew what was happening my midwife told me to push and I hardly pushed and out came her shoulders and body without me even hardly feeling it and I reached out with a scream of “MAYLA!” and there was my baby.
She was immediately on my chest, wet and new and squirming and I was so overwhelmed. My first words to her were “MAYLA! Mayla! You’re here, oh my god you’re here!” Over the next few seconds I told her I loved her so much and was so happy she was here but after about 10 seconds of silence on my chest I asked her, “Can you give me a cry?” which quickly turned into me begging her while patting her hard, “please cry, please please cry. Oh baby, please cry,” as I myself started to cry. Next thing I knew my midwife picked her up off of me and cut the cord and my baby was taken across the room to a table and a bunch of people I’d never seen before came rushing in the room, immediately crowding around her doing things I couldn’t see, as I stood there staring in shock saying “my baby, what’s happening, is my baby okay why isn’t my baby here she should be right here,” touching my empty chest. I heard someone tell me she had inhaled the meconium in her fluid and that she was going to be just fine, she just needed to have her lungs suctioned. While I was staring at the table she was at in pain and fear and horror my midwife told me my placenta was ready and to give a little push. I did and with gentle pulling it splooshed out. A few seconds later I heard the most beautiful sound I have heard to this day, a short wail coming from the table where I could only see the little purple arms and legs of my sweet daughter flailing around. They worked on her a minute more and then before I knew it my daughter was back on my chest. My beautiful, crying daughter. Joe and I both cried as we took her in for the first time, So wrinkly and puffy and new. The most beautiful blessing to ever come into my life. And the best part? I brought her into this world with all the strength I never knew I had.
I am so, so infinitely grateful for the support team I had during Mayla’s birth. I couldn’t have done it without their patience and dedication. Everything went so perfectly and the minutes of terror immediately following her delivery are so insignificant compared to the raw and primal beauty of the entire labor process. I truly believe I can do anything I set my mind to and I believe so strongly in my sacred feminine strength which did not fail me.
Blessed. I am blessed.
Despite the fact that I think natural birth is scary, I also think that all that pain is worth the beauty that she’s described. This is quite inspirational. I look forward to the day I can feel this empowered. Delivering life!