I woke up on Wednesday morning and decided to get a few more hours of sleep before going into work. I got to work around 9 a.m. and started feeling a little crampy. I wasn’t sure if it was early stages of labor, but assumed it might be. I decided to go home around 11:30 a.m. Early contractions start around 1:30, so Jamie came home to be with me. We took a walk around the neighborhood and then went to the Pearl for some blue moon ice cream J
My contractions started getting pretty painful around 6 p.m. so I started getting in and out of the bath at home. We called Gundersen at 11:20 p.m. and were told to stay home until contractions were unbearable. They also said that someone had just taken the birth center suite 15 minutes earlier. That was kind of a bummer, as I was really hoping to get it! My contractions were very painful from 12 – 3:30 a.m. I went from the bed to the tub to the couch. Jamie and I researched several soothing techniques. We found the one that worked best for me was him telling me how to breathe. I would take a cleansing breath and then he would tell me how many quick breaths to take and would talk me through them. He stayed in the bathroom with me the entire time I was laboring in the tub. At one point I was sleeping in the tub and he was sleeping on a pillow on the toilet. The contractions were very painful but I was exhausted so I was able to sleep in between them.
At 3:30 a.m. we called to see if we should come in. They said I could come in and get checked and, worse-case scenario, I would get sent back home if I wasn’t progressing. I called my wonderful sister and doula, Joella, and let her know we’d be coming in. She could tell by my voice on the phone that they wouldn’t be sending me home, so she decided to drive to the hospital as well.
Once we arrived, I was taken into an exam room to get checked. They were surprised to find that I was already dilated 7 cm and fully effaced. Obviously it was time to get admitted! That’s when we got even more wonderful news, the woman who was in the birth suite at midnight was sent home so it was all ours!
We got into the birthing suite and I immediately got into the birthing tub. Unfortunately I had back labor so no position was comfortable but the splashing water on my lower back and abdomen was very helpful. I was in and out of the tub and bed from 5-9 a.m. Jamie, Joella and the nurses were all very helpful and encouraging. I wanted the contractions to stop and kept lying down to slow them down. The nurses kept telling me that I’d need to stand up and walk around in order for things to progress, but it was too painful so I just lay in bed. Jamie and Joella were both very encouraging telling me how great I was doing. They both learned several places to apply pressure during labor to relieve pain but, much to our surprise, I wanted nothing to do with being touched during labor. As everyone says, there is not word to describe those contractions towards the end! I knew that I wanted a 100% natural birth and am very proud that, through the entire process, I never once asked for any drugs. It wasn’t easy though and there is no way I could have done it without my partner and doula’s support!
Jamie filling the water birthing tub
Tracy Bolden, CNM, came in somewhere around 9 a.m. to check me. I was fully dilated but she said my bag was fully intact. She said to get up and walk around to get the bag of water to break, otherwise she would need to break it for me. All of the sudden I felt very cramped up and ran to the bathroom. I sat down and my water burst into the toilet. Jamie and Joella were giggling because I yelled “there goes my water!” That’s when contractions started getting REALLY tough, so I got back into the water birthing tub in preparation for Harper’s arrival. I’m hoping my sister will write about Harper’s birth as well because things get a bit blurry at this point! I was in so much pain that I wasn’t sure I was going to make it. I’ve never felt so exhausted in my entire life and now it was time to start pushing. Jamie was up by my head holding me up and Tracey was at the foot of the tub so she could tell me when to push. Joella and Nurse Julie were on each side of me holding my legs up so I could push. I think I pushed 3 times through about 4 contractions and then on the 5th or 6th I pushed 4 times and Harper Lynn was born. They pulled her out of the water and put her right up on my chest. It was such an amazing feeling! Harper and I got to stay in the water while I passed my placenta and Jamie cut the cord. The moment they put her on my chest is undescribable. Jamie and I both just cried tears of joy!
Everyone told me during my pregnancy not to plan my baby’s birth, that they are unpredictable and out of our hands. I can’t tell you how many times I was told “don’t be a hero” when I said I was opting for a natural birth. I fully understand that you have no control over your baby’s birth, but I must say that Harper’s birth was exactly how I planned it to be! I prayed every night during my pregnancy that Harper would be born happy, healthy and naturally. God answered all of my prayers and Jamie and I couldn’t be happier!
Daddy cutting the cord