When I envisioned going into labor the scene was always the middle of the night. At 3:40AM on July 2, I woke up feeling some mild contractions. Immediately excited, I tried to tell myself that this could be a false alarm despite my premonitions of a night like this. It became quite apparent within 15 minutes that this was the long-awaited labor. After a week of walking laps around the park, drinking raspberry leaf tea, and finally even trying a castor oil omelet, the little baby was ready to make his debut. I tried not to wake David right away and tried to lay in bed “asleep” for as along as possible. Obviously labor would be a long process and I wanted to “store up” my energy while I could. By 4:15AM though, any attempt at peacefully reclining in bed was over and David was up and by my side. We drew a tub and I stayed in there with the shower pouring over my back until our doula arrived. Things happened quickly in the beginning and before I knew it David was calling the midwife and we were being told to head to the hospital. This transition from bathtub to car to hospital was very challenging. I wanted to stay in the tub because I felt like I “understood” the contractions that were occurring there. They would come, they would go, they crashed over me like waves and in this new space I felt a homeostasis. But, I knew that staying was not an option as the contractions’ strength increased incrementally. I remember thinking between contractions that perhaps that was it, perhaps there would be no following contractions. Unfortunately, this was not to be true. In the back seat of the car, I begged David to stop driving during a contraction while my mom rubbed my back. My mantra during the labor process was “It’s just a minute.” David and my mom would repeat this line to me throughout the duration of the contraction and I tried to focus on this phrase to get me to the other side. It helped and then it became absolutely essential to each of my contractions.
Once at the hospital, we soon found out that the labor and delivery floor was awash in laboring women. There was no room in the inn for us! Panicked and afraid, I labored in the hallway with David rubbing my back as I leaned over the handrail. This was the moment when I felt my “calm” resolve begin to crumble. How could there be no rooms? We were ushered into a utility-type room to await processing and hopefully to be transferred into a labor room as soon as possible. I don’t know how long we were in there. It was a blur of contractions and being told, “It’s just a minute.” When we arrived finally in our room, it was so hard to sit still as they quickly monitored the baby’s heart rate before letting me up to do whatever internal labor dance would help me through contractions. Somehow despite the overcrowded conditions, we were able to get a room with a jacuzzi bathtub. With the lights turned off, candles lit, and bath drawn, I labored in the water until 10:30AM. It was a wild experience to be in what would otherwise be considered a romantic setting with labor contractions. Between contractions, the warm water would lull me to sleep and I felt my head nod off only to be brought back to reality as the contraction wave started in my back and wrapped around my center. David did his best to keep me calm and focused and poured water over me to help distract and soothe. At the 7 hour mark, I turned to David and said, “I am lucid right now, and I am telling you I am done. I want an epidural please.” I thought I would have been disappointed asking for a medical intervention, but really it was the best decision I made during the labor process. The pain was almost to the brink of unbearable and the thought of laboring on in this fashion left me feeling as though I would not be mentally present for the birth of my baby since my entire mind and body was consumed by the pain of labor. I was proud that I made it through 7 hours but I knew I had reached the limit of my pain.
Once the epidural was administered, I could feel my mind return to me. Calm washed over and I felt truly present in the experience. Our midwife, Tali, closed the shades and set us up for a nice long nap. Knowing I would need my strength for the pushing since I was only half way there, she ensured us that napping would be the best we could do to prepare. The rest of the afternoon we spent in and out of a few naps, chatting together about the wildness of what we were experiencing, and chatting with our medical team. We all shared family stories, jokes, and talked about what the pushing phase would be like. My favorite part of this time was sharing how David and I met, dated, and married. It was so special to be able to go over these happy memories with our midwife and doula before we welcomed our son into our lives and became a trio. Then finally at 7:30PM we were told it was time to start pushing to meet our son. While the epidural still took the pain away the pressure was quite intense. I remember shaking and crying that I could not do it. David held me close the whole time and reassured me that I was doing a great job. With each round of pushing, I would break down into hysterics and hyperventilation. But, with David there helping to catch my breath, I was able to regain control just in time for another push. A little into this part the midwife announced, “I think we will have this baby by 10PM.” I was deliriously excited by this news and looked over to the clock and asked, “Is it 9:45PM?” David had to break the news to me that no in fact it was only 8:45PM. Digging somewhere deep down inside of myself I knew that I could not make it to 10PM and I bore down. David and our Doula coached me, encouraged me, and said that I was making progress. I had to believe them I told myself because otherwise I would not have the stamina to continue. At 8:58PM Henry was born and we met our son. To say this was emotional is an understatement. We had created this little life from scratch and here he was all warm and pink and sweet lying on my stomach as we were encircled in David’s arms. It is by far the most amazing moment of my life. My little family was born that evening and we are so blessed to have one another.
Since Henry was born at 9lbs 12oz, he needed to have his blood sugar monitored during his first hours of life. He was also born with a slight fever so soon after his birth, Henry and David had to go to NICU for some blood work and brief monitoring. Despite these little challenges, I loved the birth of our baby and it was so miraculous to be together as a family. We stayed in the hospital for three nights and finally came home on Saturday. Breastfeeding has its challenges but with the help of my lactation consultant, David, we have problem solved some of the issues and seem to be settling into a nice easy routine with our little one. If this first week home with Henry is any indication of what life will be like with our little boy, we made the best decision ever to become a family. He is so tiny and yet he is so lovable. He is challenging when he is fussy and we don’t know how to comfort him (yet) but he is also the most charming little darling. We will learn so very much from this little man in the days, weeks, months, and years to come. I love him and his daddy so very much and am so happy Henry made me a mommy.