I have been working on this post a lot for the last two weeks, partially because OBaby’s birth was so wonderful that I find myself fighting the urge to tell the lady behind me in the check-out at Target about it, and partially because I’m struggling to tell the story of my natural child birth in a way that doesn’t come off as smug to anyone reading.
But I’ve decided to give up on the latter and will resort to this:
If in the following story you perceive a twinge of smugness or any symptoms of i’msoholy-ididn’thaveanepidural-itis, please know that it was by no means intended.
Also, feel free to not read on if you don’t want to, you know, hear a birth story. Nothing too gory, but I wanted to avoid lawsuits complaints by warning you that this is in fact a birth story. A story about a birth. All non-birth story interested parties please exit now. Thank you.
Chapter 1: Preparation
You must believe me when I tell you that OBABY’S BIRTH WAS AMAZING. I want to shout it because I think that every sister, aunt, grandma, stranger, and otherwise well-intentioned woman who has ever intentionally or inadvertently scared the buh-geezus out of a first time mom regarding labor and delivery NEEDS TO HEAR THIS:
BIRTH CAN BE WONDERFUL.
Please let me explain. Well, I don’t think I can adequately explain, but I will try. When delivering your baby becomes to you, mentally, an act that your body was created to do, when it is not fought but is welcomed as a natural, amazing way to meet your little one, birth stops being some horrifying and barely survivable unknown that your grandma told you you would hate, and oh-did-she-mention that YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT YOU’RE GETTING YOURSELF INTO…
and it becomes something that is beautiful, which is exactly how it’s supposed to be.
DanO and I took Bradley Birth classes for a whopping 10 weeks to prepare for the birth we wanted. We loved that this class had the mindset of empowering both the woman – that you and your body can do this (as did billions of women before you) – and the husband – by covering what to expect during labor, down to common emotional signposts and suggestions of how to help your wife through them. You guys, this class is exactly what every couple should hear, even if you think I’m a kook and the birth you envision includes having a big ‘ol epidural the moment you hear the number “4”; this class provides a perspective of birth that is positive and exciting, not fearful and anxious.
And come on, doesn’t every prego already have enough fear and anxiety producing labor stories being thrown at her like verbal vomit?
Chapter 2: Early Labor
I woke up at 3am on Wednesday with distantly spaced contractions that were good and strong. I say good and strong because that is what they are – each contraction was working (strong) to bring me closer to OBaby (good). From 3am, I labored all day, trying not to watch the clock too much. I went on a walk with my doula, cleaned, attempted to nap, and went to the grocery store to keep myself occupied. Throughout the day the contractions increased from 15 to 10 to 8 to 6 min apart by the time we “went to bed” Wednesday night. The plan was to go to the hospital when the contractions were steadily spaced every four minutes and lasting for a minute each, or “4-1-1″ (one hour of 4 min apart lasting for one min.).
Wait, did you say “doula”?
Yes, DanO and I chose to have a doula for our birth. It’s kind of an old school turned new school idea (so old/new school apparently that Mozilla thinks I spelled it wrong) of having an experienced woman that can come alongside the husband/wife team for the labor and delivery. Her primary purpose is to support the husband as he supports his wife. Our Doula, R, was also one of our amazing Bradley Birth instructors and has a wonderfully gentle and positive presence, so it was a joy to have her with us.
(back to the contractions)
I woke up at 11:20 with them coming 2 and 3 min apart. We waited to see if they would keep that pace. Well, I waited, DanO groggily tried to wake himself. (Remember when I said here that if labor started in the middle of the night DanO might ahem, have a hard time?) They kept that pace for a full hour, so we called our doula to meet us at the hospital, and our parents to let them know the news.
Except, I forgot to call the hospital to tell them we were on our way. The number had been on a post-it in my wallet for a month now, and when the time came to use it, I completely forgot. Something about the sheer force of your abdomen turning into concrete every 2 minutes can make one forgetful, it seems?
But apparently we had the clarity of mind to stop and photograph the occasion.
O wow, I don’t miss that one bit.
We arrived at the hospital at 1:10am and when we got to the nurses’ station I apologized for not calling and made small talk with the nurses. I must have been a bit too chipper, because when I suggested that DanO go back to the car and grab our overnight bag, the nurse that was admitting me said “Well, let’s just see if you’ll actually be staying.”
Oh honey, I’ll be staying, I thought. You should feel these. I am willing to bet large amounts of baby clothing that I WILL BE STAYING.
5 minutes later: “Oh wow! You’re already dilated past 7!” said the nurse who thought that I was surely too lively to actually be in labor.
“Oh, so, does that mean we’re staying?”
(Ok, so that smugness was intended…)
I just noticed that I have reached a record setting word count on this post, and for the sake of your retinas (and because this story is definitely good enough to justify multiple posts), I officially declare this birth story:
To be continued…
[Update to the original post: You can find PART TWO of the story here.]