Where did we leave off? Oh yes. My water had broken, I had been contracting for seven hours, and I truly believed I’d be holding my baby soon. That’s when things started to get intense. Truthfully, the beginning of labor isn’t so bad. Contractions aren’t long and are far apart; you’re more excited than anything.
So, Part II of Henry’s birth story is pretty different from Part I. Part I is fun and games. Part II is serious stuff. I can’t imagine discussing my natural birth without addressing the ‘too much information’ details because that’s what childbirth is – it’s not pretty, it’s real. So if you don’t care to read about all my cervix, blood, and other realities of birth, you’ve been forewarned.
Around 11:00 AM, we returned to my delivery room, and I continued to labor in bed for another half hour or so. Kristien was a great coach, talking me through each contraction and rubbing my lower back to relieve some of the building pressure. He was full of positive encouragement, saying things like, “You are doing great; your body is doing exactly what it should be; soon we will find out if we’re having a boy or a girl!” In the movies, women always scream at their husbands, “YOU DID THIS TO ME! I HATE YOU!” but I really could not imagine laboring without Kristien there beside me.
My pain really started to pick up, so he turned on some music (I listened to the Dave Matthews Band station on Pandora for hours) and suggested that I get into the Jacuzzi tub. The idea of getting out of the bed to move to the bath wasn’t appealing, but so many women have told me that laboring in a tub feels a lot better, so I decided to give it a shot. He filled the tub with lukewarm water, and I climbed in.
It was amazing. The water took away so much of the pressure associated with each contraction.
I got into the tub at 1:00 PM, and soon enough, I started to go through transition. I am extremely glad that I went through Bradley Method classes because I knew what was happening to my body – otherwise, I would’ve been really freaked out by how much labor suddenly picked up in intensity. Transition is the last stage of active labor – when your body goes from 8 to 10 centimeters – and contractions are fast and intense, coming every two minutes or so and lasting a minute. There’s basically no break in the pain level. Although it doesn’t happen to every woman, many women will vomit during transition (thankfully, I did not). It’s so overwhelming; Bradley taught us that transition was the moment you’d begin to doubt your ability to give birth without medication.
As I went through transition, I truly felt like an animal, not a human. That’s the only way that I can describe it. I was moaning and screaming and cursing and arching my back. I felt trapped. There was no way out except to deliver. I began to say things like, “I can’t do this; make it stop; I just want to go home,” which signaled to the Husband that I was definitely in transition. He ran to grab my wonderful nurse Debbie, who joined us in the bathroom and helped me cope. At first, I was just riding out the pain, trying to get through each contraction, but soon enough, I began to feel an urge to push. After watching me go through several more intense contractions, Debbie told me that I needed to get out of the tub so my midwife, Sage, could check my progress and see whether I was ready to start pushing.
To continue reading our birth story, head over to my blog, Healthy Tipping Point.