Life in the End Times

Shin's gift to Annie on their One Year Anniversary

Laboring With Elijah

Filed under: Baby — Annie at 9:31 pm on Thursday, December 4, 2008

I knew that Monday morning at 4am I might be having real contractions instead of Braxton Hicks. I had slight menstrual like cramping around 4am on Monday morning. Then I lost the rest of my mucus plug. It was a spongy gray looking thing mixed with blood.

Shin and I both woke up and began getting ready. I cleaned the bathroom on hands and knees for the last time. It helped me to be on all fours to encourage Elijah to turn into a good anterior position. I’d also been leaning over and swaying on the birth ball and doing pelvic rocks the last couple weeks for the same reason.

Shin was busy reading the Word and getting his online business started for the day.

It was December 1st and the house had a certain extra excited feel. By breakfast everyone knew it was happening. Shin’s father said that day would be one of our proudest. He went to work and my mother in law asked if I preferred her to stay or keep her appointment. I insisted she leave, that I would be more comfortable laboring at home on my own.

My contractions were 15 minutes apart for most of the morning. I was busy doing last minute things like finding the baby a pediatrician. I was making a lot of phone calls and trying not to sound distracted as my breath got shorter and my concentration was challenged. The contractions increased to about every 7-9 minutes around 1pm. They increased in pain and I would frantically run from one room to the other trying to make the seconds pass. I would also speed walk to the banister of the stairs until I couldn’t walk any more and there groan loudly where the house echoed most.

It was a pain I hadn’t felt before. Whereas with menstrual cramps you can exercise to relieve it, contractions were inescapable. It was like something was going haywire and screaming inside my body and there was no outlet except to get through it. I’m sure that mentality didn’t help.

I wasn’t managing the pain very well and finally decided to call my doula to come. I naively thought this was the part of labor where I needed the most help because it was the longest part of the process. I was relieved she agreed to come. She normally comes when the contractions are at 5 minutes apart. That sounds close to the end but, as in my case, there are usually still many many hours ahead. She came when she heard I was laboring alone.

I also called Shin out of work. They pulled in at the same time. I opened the door just as the postal carrier was walking by and sent out a few more thank you cards in between a contraction. Then another began and I sped walked out of their presence into the kitchen. I didn’t know how to be in pain in front of others, even my husband. It was different atmosphere laboring alone versus laboring with others around.

Shin turned on a dvd that ended up playing and replaying the menu. He brought down the birth ball. We turned on soft music from IHOP, I drank water and a smoothie that I made earlier that day and sat on the living room rug and let my doula massage my lower back in between contractions. I found I didn’t like being touched during a contraction because it broke my concentration. It was just awkward the whole time being the center of attention yet wanting to be a good hostess, yet being too uncomfortable and distracted to accomplish that.

She gave me an oil for my lower belly that would speed contractions along at a good pace. By 230-3pm I was having contractions every 3-4 minutes. I think because she taught me how to breathe and relax I progressed quickly. I had a choice to go to the hospital right then or I could wait until I was more dilated. We decided to try and stick it out till 4:30pm and see. I had a sudden rush of vomit the moment my mother in law came home. I was worried she would be overly concerned- her face was very serious. But my doula lightened the mood when she said it smelled delicious (it was all fruit smoothie). I was also happy because I knew it indicated progress. Then we decided to take a walk through the neighborhood.

I had to stop a few times but Shin would kneel and let me lean on him or on fire hydrants or telephone poles. It also gave me relief to bend over against a wall and let the pressure push my tail bone. They would pretend to do stretches while I had my eyes closed waiting out my contraction.

When we returned I just wanted to sit on the staircase. It helped once again to lean my lower back on the stair behind me and make circular motions with my upper body to let the edge of the stair massage different points in my back. I also used the stairs to do a sort of inclined push up. Shin boiled me some plain spagetti noodles for energy (like going into a marathon). There were moments when I it felt like my ribs were expanding and contracting.

Soon it was 6pm and my contractions were 1-2 minutes apart. We decided to go to the hospital.

It was hard being in a car. Every time we hit a side-to-side bump my insides would tighten and fight the contraction. I was afraid I might need Shin to pull over every minute but somehow I found a way to get totally calm; I put myself in a sleep-like state before the onset of a contraction and stay in that place. I kept saying the word, “yield” and envisioned what was happening inside. I saw my pelvis opening and closing with the baby’s head. I even managed to wait in the car when Shin and my doula stopped by Subway for dinner!

We entered through the lobby and onto the third floor. I asked to be checked at triage before being admitted. I was 9 cm dilated so there was no question. All the nurses said I was so calm they were spooked. At 7pm my nurse changed for the worst. She did everything by the medical book. It was as though she had no respect for my birth wishes. The first thing she did was keep me on the electronic fetal monitor for an extended amount of time and try to make me change my position.

But there were bigger things to worry about.

The contractions were getting worse and I was growing anxious about just how this baby was going to come out. I had a preconception that the pushing part was fast! My friend pushed her baby out in 15 minutes! I thought that was simply faster than normal. I had no idea it was a 3 hour process!