Eric's reaction to the idea that we were going to have a baby, was stunted by his sleepy state. "Oh, ya? Are you okay?" he peered over the sheet at me standing there, holding my swollen belly and rocking back and forth. I nodded, "yeah I'm okay, I just think today is the day love, these surges aren't messing around." The surges varying, some stronger than others and timing was between 10 minutes to 20 minutes apart. I had this unwavering feeling that I just needed to move.
That morning August 17th, is a blur really. I remember calling our family and
friends preparing them for the arrival of our son. I remember Eric going
outside to mow the lawn, yes you heard me
right. My husband mowed 5 acres of our 10 acre lot that morning, not judging. I remember checking my
hospital bag 20 times to ensure I had everything.
I remember trying to rest, laying on the couch breathing through surge after
My mother and second mother Jeanne arrived at the house by early afternoon. My surges were stronger, but not yet consistent, so we walked. We circled the freshly cut lawn that my husband had mowed in his anxious state. With every surge, I squatted low to the ground, touching the grasses, moaning, with the intent of bringing this child Earth side. Each surge wrapping fully around me like a vice, taking my breath away, grounding me.
We circled our property for what seemed to be hours, making
every intention to help my son descend. Squatting, breathing, surging, this was
labor, this was what I had
anticipated for 9 months, it was happening, and there was no turning back now.
As the day turned to night, I found myself in our house, holding
my husband’s hands as I sat on my birthing ball, writhing in vice like pain.
Each surge brought me to tears. They were strong, so very strong. I would rock
with each one, attempting to keep my composure, but slowly losing it at the
By 10:30 pm, I grabbed my husband and let out a deep moan, the surges were becoming incredible difficult for
me to handle. As much as I tried to breathe and focus on opening, the more I
felt every muscle in my body tighten. I told him it was time to go in, I just couldn't handle the pain any longer. The surges were so strong, he had to be coming. I called the on call
physician line, and informed them that I had been laboring now at home for 14
hours, and that I felt like it was time, I was coming in.
We loaded the car and I remember specifically the inability to sit. So, much, pressure! A twenty five
minute car ride felt like an eternity. Each surge hitting me harder and harder.
When we arrived to the Labor and Delivery unit I quickly undressed and laid
down on the exam table.
With all the hustle and bustle of rushing to the hospital, I
forgot my birth plan in the car. In between the intensifying surges, I answered
the nurse’s questions, and tried to explain my wishes of having a natural
labor. No one had heard of
hypnobirthing. My stomach sank, I almost felt anger. How could a unit that served laboring, birthing mothers,
have no comprehension of what hypnobirthing was? I stopped myself from
panicking. I knew what I wanted, felt educated and that was all
The doctor came in and did a cervical check, yes I was indeed in labor, but after 14.5 hours of laboring at
home, I was only dilated 3-4 cm (mind you, I had been dilated to 1-2 cm for
approximately a month before labor began, sigh).
I was disappointed that I wasn’t further along. They admitted me to my room,
started an IV saline lock (even though I asked if it was really
Surges continued with very little time in between each one. That
vice I mentioned earlier, only got tighter, more excruciating. With every surge
came this sensation that I was being torn apart. I couldn’t tell if I was
having more pain in my back, in my front or down below! I labored in child’s
pose, I labored on the birthing ball, on a rocking chair, walking to and fro in
My mother, Jeanne and Eric were my support as I labored in that
hospital room. They held my hand as I gripped ever so tightly, held pressure on
my back, listened to my primal moans, and talked me through my grimacing faces,
my tears and heavy breathing. I listening to music, I tried with all my might
to breathe away the pain, breathe through each surge only to welcome the next. My baby boy was coming, he’s almost here…
was all I kept saying in my mind.
By 4 am, with the intensity of my surges increasing with little
to no time to recover before the next hit me, I was fading, hitting my wall. I
remember sitting in my hypnobirth class, the instructor Janice explained how to
breathe during surges, with the mentioning of a break between them to
recuperate. Those breaks did not exist for me. My surges were similar to what I
have heard women describe surges after receiving Pitocin, quicker, more
intense, with little time to relax in between them. I felt like I just couldn’t
catch my breath.
I had now been in natural, un-medicated labor for a whopping 20
hours. I was breaking. Everyone in the room seemed helpless as I writhed in
pain, tears flowing and exhaustion setting in. This was truly the most
difficult thing I have ever encountered, and it was nowhere near over!
My nurse, who had done a wonderful job of ensuring my labor was
as natural as I wished it to be, came into the room to check my status. A
manual exam was done to see how far along I had progressed in the 6 hours I had
been laboring in that room. When she told me I was about a 5, I broke down in
tears. I couldn’t believe it. I felt weak, I felt like I was failing. How could
I only be a 5!? I came in at a 3-4, and now after all of that I was only a 5? My nurse offered one last resource, the
My husband walked my shaking, writhing body to the shower. I sat
on the very edge of a stool, as he took the shower head and washed over my pelvis
and back with steaming hot water. My breath was quick, my surges were mighty. I
sat in that shower rocking and crying, mentally breaking down. This, was not how I envisioned giving birth to my child. I wanted to be stronger. I wanted to prove to myself
that I could be that woman that birthed her baby without an epidural. I wanted to slow my breathing,
relax my trembling body, open my cervix and welcome him into this world. But,
after an hour and a half of the hot, steaming shower, I cracked. Drenched with
water and tears, light headed and hyperventilating, I held onto my husband,
shaking uncontrollably. “I just can’t do it anymore, I’m sorry, but I just can’t
do it. It hurts so bad.” (I write
this now, with tears welling up, I had felt a sense of failure from my own body, how could my own body fail me now!?)
Eric helped me back to bed, the nurse came in along with the
house obstetrician, it was now 5:30 am, and I felt like I might fall out. My
nurse held my hand, she told me that I was so very strong, that an epidural
doesn’t change that fact. That I was listening to my body and should never be
ashamed of that. My cervix was rechecked and to my disappointment after another
hour and a half of excruciating pain I remained at 5 cm. I hadn’t budged. In
that moment I felt utter defeat.
By 6 am the anesthesiologist was in my room preparing for my
epidural. As much as I wanted to give up, I knew it wasn’t an option to do so.
My family left the bedside as anesthesia set up their table. My nurse held me.
She held me tight. She let me cry into her shoulder, she told me how proud I
should be of myself, how strong I was. In that moment I was not crying because
of the pain, I was crying because of the epidural I was about to receive. The
Anesthesiologist told me to hold still, which seemed utterly impossible, noises
I had never heard before came from deep within me as I sat as still as I could
with surges coming one on top of the other. My epidural was placed within 15
minutes of her entering the room. I received a bolus of medication, and felt
for the first time in so many hours, that I could breathe.
Everyone urged me to rest, I laid down in the bed, feeling some
much needed relief and closed my tired eyes. I was so exhausted that sleep was
impossible. I rested for about an hour and a half when the surges began
increasing in intensity. By the time the two hour mark hit, I was back writhing
in pain, my legs were heavy and tingling, and the surges brought on incredible
pressure. I called for my nurse.
A new shift had come on at 7 am. I had a new nurse to labor
with. She came into the room with the doctor. They checked me again, and to
everyone’s surprise, the two hours of sweet relief dilated me to a 7! The
doctor explained that my bag of water was still intact, that if he were to
break it, I would most likely progress faster. At this point in time, I was
back into excruciating pain, the pressure was indescribable, and had been laboring
for nearly 24 hours, I was unable to move from the bed. I consented. The doctor
broke my water.
After shifting in bed trying to relieve the pain and pressure
from the relentless surges I was experiencing, I began again to hyperventilate
and lose my composure. Why wasn’t the epidural helping!? A second epidural
bolus did nothing. After another hour of hand squeezing, tears and moans, the
pressure mounted. I called the nurse again, something felt inexplicably different.
When she and the doctor came in this time around, he tells me
that I am 8-9 cm, but that my “upper lip” was swollen. I would soon find out
that the “upper lip” he was referring to was not on my face, but was in fact my cervix. The swelling was
hindering my cervix to transition to complete dilation. The doctor suggested that I sit on my side to
decrease the pressure. My son’s sweet little head was pinching my cervix
against my pubic symphysis, causing extreme swelling. The doctor explained that
this was, in fact, why I was having such excruciating pain and pressure down
below. The only effect I was feeling from the epidural was the numbness and
tingling in my legs at this point. It gave me no pain relief what so ever.
After I attempted to labor on, the doctor told me that he would
have to help me by dilating my cervix over my son’s head (insert bug eyes here.) What?! He instructed me to push during the
next contraction, he then stretched my
cervix over my son’s head manually. The pain was almost intolerable, but thankfully
it worked! Within the next hour, my surges were now urging me to push. I am going to be a mother…
I was ready to bring my son Earth side. This was his big debut.
By 10 am the nurse was in my room checking my status, by 10:15 I was instructed
to push. Being that I had studied hypnobirthing, pushing was a topic that
wasn’t covered in our classes, as the whole point of hypnobirthing is to
“breathe your baby down,” not to push. Luckily I remembered a last minute tip
that a friend had given me, “push like
you’re taking a shit,” and that, my friends, is what I did. My legs were
up, I was on my back pushing with all of my being. The pressure was tremendous
as my son came down through the birth canal. I pushed for 35 minutes, my eyes
felt like they were going to pop out of my head. My husband was next to me,
encouraging me to keep going, that I was almost done. That I could do it. That
he loved me, and was so proud. I heard my mother say that she could see my son’s
head! That I was crowning!
Then, came the “ring of
fire,” as they call it. That moment when your baby is crowning, ready to
make his appearance to the world, and your nurse tells you to wait for the doctor. My eyes were wild
with fear, anxiety and pain, “what do you
mean, I have to WAIT?” Luckily the doctor came in within minutes to guide
my son out. Once his head was out, one more push and his body was out! A wash
of sweet relief took over my exhausted body, I heard him cry and no longer felt
the pain. The doctor promptly laid my son on my chest.
My son. Graeme Steven,
born at 10:50 am on August 18th. He was 7 lbs 15 oz. of perfection.
The doctor that delivered me was wonderful, he minded my
decision to delay cord clamping until my cord stopped pulsating. My son cried
for quite a while, those bright lights, the sounds, the coldness of the room…I
would have cried too my little angel.
There are photos of me literally scanning his entire body, every
centimeter of him, every tiny hair, every little newborn wrinkle. Those toes
were so precious, his fingers too! My son was more glorious than I ever could
have envisioned in my dreams. This pride consumed me, the pride that mother’s
feel when they stare into the eyes of their child, in complete and utter awe.
Peace, Love & Tie Dye,