It was July 5th and I was 41 weeks and 2 days pregnant. I headed to my second acupuncture session and Phyllis, the acupuncturist, said I should head out after the session and grab some Italian food to eat. I had read an old wives tale about Eggplant Parmesan stimulating labor and I love Italian food so this was fine by me. Plus my mom, Jan, suggested going out for dinner since it was going to be a while before we could do that once baby was here. Oh how right she was, though I didn’t know it at the time!
We went to Maggianos, one of my favorite Italian restaurants and saw my cousin Midge. I ordered the Eggplant Parmesan and it was delicious! While at the restaurant a lady saw me and told me I was a beautiful pregnant lady and that made me feel good because I did not feel very beautiful at that moment! We went home and I insisted on watching the movie “The Greater Good,” and afterward at about 11pm, I said I was going to bed.
In these last few weeks, I had been very careful of getting enough sleep since I didn’t know when she might arrive. I changed into my favorite nightgown. Mind you, before and after being pregnant, I hate nightgowns, but wore one during pregnancy. Then after brushing my teeth, I went to the bathroom. I finished peeing but suddenly there was another gush of water that plunged into the toilet that I knew wasn’t urine.
It was my water breaking!
I text Salli, one of the midwives, and she said, “Go to bed!” Then I went out and told Pat, my husband, and my mom. We then all went to bed immediately. We all wanted to be ready for what would lie ahead!
At about 1:30 am I woke up with a contraction. It lasted about two minutes. That’s when I remembered there was an app for timing contractions so I downloaded it. About 20 or so minutes later I had another contraction. They were definitely more intense than the Braxton hicks I had been having for weeks. I decided to practice breathing through them like I learned in my childbirth class with Natalie.
On the third one, Pat woke up and asked what I was doing. I told him I was breathing through the contraction. He said he needed to be rested so he would have the energy to help me later, so he went upstairs to the other guest room and left me to labor on my own. This was okay because when it came down to it, it really was just me and my baby, especially in those moments.
I dozed between contractions, knowing I needed all the rest I could get. At 5 am, the contractions were about 5 minutes apart, lasting 2-3 minutes and this had been going on for an hour. All this meant I was now officially in labor.
I text Salli and called the doula, Ruth. The commotion woke up Pat and my mom. It was go time! Salli said she was coming over and Ruth said she was waiting for her baby sitter and as soon as she got there, she’d be on her way. Ruth also told me my contractions shouldn’t be lasting 2-3 minutes until it was time to push so I should take a warm bath to decrease the intensity. At this point the contractions hurt but I could talk through and even during them.
I got in the warm bathtub and my contractions immediately eased to 30 seconds. Thank you Ruth!
I thought it was great and I said to myself “I got this!”
My mom thought I should eat so I would have strength so she made me a breakfast scramble, which I love. After eating it I immediately felt a little nauseous but choked down about half, knowing I needed fuel for the task at hand.
The contractions started to get more and more intense. I went to the bathroom again and I heard another gush. This time it was my mucus plug. I wanted to leave it to show Salli but accidentally flushed it down the toilet out of habit, and the fact that my brain had a few other thoughts going through it. I got back in the tub looking for some comfort or relief from the intensity.
Salli arrived as I was giving up on the bathtub. I asked Pat to get the thumper. It’s a big heavy chiropractic tool that vibrates and looks like a sander. My cousin who’s also married to a chiropractor and had 3 natural labors said it was amazing, but I would say it was just okay.
It was difficult to talk through my contractions now. I would get down on my knees and Pat would use the thumper on my lower back. It helped but the contractions were still pretty painful. Ruth kept calling to update me on trying to get ahold of her sitter. The intensity was increasing so quickly that when she said she’d be there at 8:30, I thought “do I even need her then?” But I said “Yes, just come as soon as you can and I’ll be okay until then.”
About this time, I got very nauseous and threw up my breakfast.
Salli said “That’s a good sign” and smiled.
Mom and Pat had filled up the birth tub and Salli suggested getting in since the thumper, hip circles, and other things I was trying were not helping the very intense contractions. Salli had also suggested squatting. Before I was in labor I thought, I’d love squatting during labor. I even had looked into squatting bars and stools. While I was in labor that sounded like the most horrible and painful idea, so, obviously, I didn’t do that.
Into the birth tub I went. It was sometime between 8-8:30am at this point. The warm water felt good but barely dimmed the intensity of the contractions. Ruth arrived and immediately got out a bottle of olive oil and started massaging my arm. It felt good and my mom massaged my other arm. I started to feel hot so Pat got a hand held fan with a spray bottle. He fanned my face but I hated it, though I loved that he was trying to make me comfortable. I politely asked him to please not do that so he then ran and got a cloth with cool water to put around my neck and a cool wash cloth for my forehead and that I really did like.
The next few hours were a blur…
…of either being in the tub, standing to lean on Pat or sitting on the toilet with my feet propped up on some old high school yearbooks. Pat was so strong and during some of the most intense contractions, my legs would go completely weak and I’d put all of what felt like my enormous weight onto his shoulders. With my arms around his neck I’m sure it didn’t feel good to him, but he never complained or asked me to stop.
I would let out long low moans during contractions. Supposedly it helps relax the cervix and vaginal muscles and decrease pain. I can’t tell you if it worked or not but mentally it felt good to be doing something to help the pain.
Soon, I got very nauseous again and asked Pat to get me a bucket. I had been drinking coconut water for electrolytes. He ran over with the bucket and I managed to get most of it in but some splattered on the wall and my antique wooden scale. I didn’t care a bit. After that I switched to regular water.
I kept reminding myself that this was one day in my whole life. I also thought,
“I can’t believe people do this more than once”!
I told Pat this was it; only one baby because I did not want to do this again.
My other midwife, Heather suggested walking outside. I said okay but only because I wanted to privately ask Pat to remind me of why epidurals are so bad and say I no longer hold any judgment to the moms who choose them. He told me, “No, you don’t want that. You got this.” I answered, “I know I do, besides it’s not like we have one in the fridge. It wasn’t so bad that I don’t think I can do it, but man, it would be so easy with an epidural.” Good thing for me is once I have a plan, I stick to it. This would be it. I never give up. As another contraction hit, I ran into the house. I didn’t want the neighborhood hearing me in all my glory.
Back into the tub I went. Heather, herself in the third trimester of pregnancy, napped on the couch between knitting sessions. My dog Jade came to lick my hands and check on me. She paced around the midwives as if to find out how I was. She had been quite the companion all through my pregnancy.
I was so tired. Not like, physically just did a workout tired, but like I stayed up all night, can’t escape it tired. I kept saying I wished I could push a pause button take a nap and then finish. I felt like I could really handle it well that way. Obviously that wasn’t an option. Salli told me it was the hormones. I had heard birth stories of so many women who slept between contractions then woke up and pushed then went back to sleep. I never understood how that was possible before. I get it now.
After holding out as long as I could, I asked Salli to check me. I think it was around noon. I remember her reaching and reaching. I thought how can she still be that far up after all this work? I silently prayed “please be at least 6-7cm.” Salli emerged and announced, “9 and a half.” I don’t remember if I said it out loud, but I thought, “Oh thank God!” After about 20 minutes Salli said it was time to push.
I was so excited to push!
From my research on birth and labor, I expected a few pushes and then, yay baby! Not exactly how it went. I started pushing in the tub. It felt futile. This was going nowhere. We tried the toilet with my feet up again. I was facing backwards so Pat could rub my back. I pushed so hard I poopped. Poor Pat was right there to smell it. I also felt like this wasn’t working. I could hear my mom say she must have been really good at pushing. That really annoyed me. I asked Salli to close the door so I didn’t have to listen.
Salli suggested squatting but I just couldn’t. Besides the fact that my legs turned into “jello” with every contraction, it was too painful. I said I was so tired and asked to lie down. Salli recommended getting on my hands and knees on the bed. I did, reluctantly, but it actually felt really good. Between contractions I would ease into a child’s pose to rest. After a few pushes Salli could tell this wasn’t an effective position. I wanted to stay because it felt so good.
Salli could feel babies head was tipped. She suggested lying on my left side and holding my right leg in the air. I again reluctantly agreed. I did not want to put my legs together as it just felt too painful. My mom and Ruth held my right leg in the air while Pat helped keep my left leg bent and then I pushed and pushed. It was going well until baby hit my pubis bone and got stuck.
I continued pushing and pushing but got nowhere. Salli suggested Pat adjust my hips to help baby move around my pubic bone. I knew that meant my legs would need to be very close together, but even though I did not want to get adjusted, I said okay. Pat and my mom put the adjusting table right next to the bed. As soon as a contraction ended I rolled onto the table. He adjusted my hips but wanted to check the rest of my back. I told him “no way!” and scrambled back to the bed as another contraction hit.
More pushing. Her head would come down then back up, still stuck on that bone. I’d been pushing for about 2 hours and was not getting anywhere. I glanced nervously at the midwives to try to read their expressions. Nothing! I couldn’t tell what they were thinking. I really didn’t want to go to the hospital but I wasn’t sure how long they would let me go on. I remembered reading on the Spinning Babies to prop up the pelvis at the level of the trochanter to help an acynclitic head move under the pubis so I decided to tell the midwives and they wanted to try it. We propped me up and started pushing. It worked! Little by little down she moved. She was still going back in a bit but at least we were finally making progress.
They kept telling me to push like I was pooping. I did that and pooped a little with every push. Poor Randi, the student midwife, ran out of gauze wiping it. Eventually, I got the hang of it and started pushing with all my might. When I was pushing, I was so focused I didn’t feel the pain of the contraction. I was pushing so hard and so long the midwives started telling me
“Stop pushing the contraction is over.”
Finally I got to the ring of fire when she started to crown and it hurt so badly. I wanted to just push right through but Heather reminded me to pause and allow the skin to stretch so I wouldn’t tear. The next contraction I pushed so hard she came right out! Head and shoulders! Salli looked at us and said we could pick her up. I reached down so fast! I’d visualized catching her for months and after all that hard work, I wanted to be the first to pick her up. Pat and I ended up doing it together. I put my hand under her left arm and he under her right.
As we lifted her up I checked that she indeed was a girl.
We brought her to my chest and I was just staring at her beautiful face! I announced, “She’s so cute!” I had been so curious about what she’d look like and hopeful she’d at least have some resemblance to me. And she did. We looked a lot alike as babies. She had a cute big round head though and I loved it! She nursed right away and basically all night.
Pat ordered pizza for everyone. Everyone was bringing things to me and I just wanted to get up and move around! I was so tired of being stuck in the bed in labor. The midwives were impressed with how easy I could move around and wanted to. I actually really felt great! They made up an herbal bath for both baby and I. She was so calm you could tell she loved it. Coincidentally, she hated all baths after that until she was 9 months old!
When everyone left and my mom and Pat went to bed, it was just her and I. I kind of felt like, “You’re just going to leave me to do this by myself?” I couldn’t stop taking pictures of her. She didn’t want to sleep but wanted to eat all night long. I don’t think I really slept until about 8:00am! The next day my eyes were swollen from pushing so hard and I felt like I went through the windshield of a car and I was so happy all our relatives lived far away and we could just be alone to look like crap and sleep! My mom helped me get rest while Pat had to head off to work.
Dani was a one of my first clients. Her and husband, Pat, own and operate Symmetry Heath Chiropractic Center in Cedar Park. She graciously agreed to also be my first birth story from previous clients to post on my site. I hope to have more stories from past clients in the future.