Malcolm is now 15 days old. It’s truly hard to believe. Each time I think back on his birth it seems more and more surreal.
I wanted to post his birth story much sooner. But life with a newborn is never predictable. I lose hours just gazing at our little boy. I’m definitely a proud and awestruck mom.
At this present moment he is snug and sleeping on my chest in his Moby Wrap… allowing me hands-free mobility. Hopefully he’ll sleep long enough for me to get this posted.
I’m very excited to share the birth story. I hope you enjoy reading about how Malcolm came into this world. (While pregnant I couldn’t get enough of birth stories… so please share this with expectant moms.) Thanks!
THE MARINA INN
We begin where I left off in my second to last post: Laboring in the Marina Inn in Anacortes…
As soon as I finished writing my “Pause for Contraction/ Early Labor” post, I turn the lights off to get some rest. It doesn’t quite happen. The contractions have suddenly increased a level and I’m unable to sleep through them. Bob is right here with me. Holding my hand as I breathe through each one.
He mentions that it would have been nice if the baby had allowed us to get a good night’s rest before upping the ante. I’m actually excited to get this show in the road. Stronger contractions is a good thing. And I’m ready for them. I’m mentally prepared for the pain, we’re on the mainland and I have my team all in the same hotel. I can do this!
I think that I lasted about two hours before I ask Bob to call Laurie. It’s about 1 AM.
Laurie arrives and I tell her, “It really hurts.” I feel like I owe her an explanation for pulling her out of sleep. The pain is my reason. Throughout the night I try different positions.
THE BIRTH BALL
I sit on the birth ball (which is the same as a pilates ball) and face Bob who is sitting on the edge of the bed. When a contraction starts, I take a deep breath and look at Bob – into his eyes- while Laurie provides counter-pressure on my back. This is a good position. She coaches me to “melt” into the pain. And I do. This is so much harder to do than fighting against the pain, but it feels so much better in the end. Some times this “melting” is easier when I close my eyes. I let my shoulders relax and try to release every muscle in my body… welcoming the contraction. The pain.
I chant in my head,
“Pain is not real.”
“Your body was made to do this.”
And I get a rhythm going. Until… I have to go to the bathroom.
Every position change equals more pain and more contractions. I get up from the ball and have a contraction before I even get to the toilet. I lean against the bathroom sink and just breathe.
Sometimes I moan. I release my breath and sound comes out. I’m aware that if anyone in a neighboring room heard me they would certainly think I was in the midst of baby-making, not baby-having. But I don’t care. Whatever helps.
I get on the toilet. This is a good position. I have a contraction or two on the toilet and then get back up and go back to the birth ball. Contraction at the sink along the way.
Bob is there every step of the way. Letting me squeeze the life out of his hands or push against him. Laurie is providing the counter-pressure in my back and coaching me. Suggesting different things. Making sure I take – at the very least – sips of water.
Hours go by.
Laurie suggests I get in the tub again since that felt good to me before. Bob sits next to me holding my hand while Laurie uses the opportunity to get a nap. I get into a rhythm in the tub and being in the water does help. I eventually fall asleep between contractions. Bob does too. With his head on the edge of the tub. I decide I need to get out of the tub because I don’t want to fall asleep in there.
Bob helps me out and I make my way back to the bed where I lie on my left side with a pillow between my legs.
I’m very tired at this point. (This is such an incredible understatement.)
I sleep between contractions. Which have slowed down, by the way. Perhaps because of the bath?
Laurie returns and at some point I realize that it’s no longer dark outside. What the hell time is it?! How long have I been laboring?! We must be close, right?
The Next Day
It’s early morning. Day 2 of labor… as far as I’m concerned. I know that those early contractions yesterday were NOTHING compared to this. But still… I labored THROUGH the night without producing a baby.
Time to regroup. Refocus. I can do this.
The good thing about sleeping between contractions is that I get rest. The bad thing? Waking up in a contraction. That sucks. That allows for no mental preparation. Suddenly you’re awake and your uterus is playing the pain accordion.
According to Bob and Laurie, I actually slept THROUGH a couple of contractions. That’s crazy to me. Considering how much energy they take when I’m awake to them.
Mom calls around 7 AM. I think it’s 7. Somewhere around there. I tell her to come on down and that we’ve been up the whole night laboring. She relieves Laurie and Bob manages to get a little catnap. I’m so glad that she had a full night’s rest considering we’re all totally depleted already and we’re still not even at the hospital.
Almost there, right?
At some point Melinda (my midwife) arrives to examine me. I’m sure that I’ve got to be at least several centimeters dilated given how much work I’d done in the night. I’m positive that she’s going to tell me that it’s time to go to the hospital.
…there was hardly any change. I was further effaced. But I had only dilated half a centimeter more from the day before.
WTF?! Seriously! Only 1/2 a centimeter more?! All that pain! All that effort… for only 1/2 a centimeter?!
This news is incredibly disheartening. Melinda tells me that I should continue to do what I was doing…. resting between contractions.
So I do. For as long as I can. But they ramp up again and sleep is no longer an option. Neither is eating. Which actually hadn’t been an option all night. I take a bite of a peach and end up feeling like I could vomit. So no more peach. Just sips of water. As much as I can. Which again, isn’t much.
My world is getting smaller and smaller. It is only this room and nothing more.
Bob makes a food run for the team. He is in desperate need of a chai and something hearty to eat. Unfortunately, he chooses bacon. Note to all future fathers out there: Do not eat bacon while your wife is in labor!
I’m laboring on the toilet when Bob returns. Why? Because I don’t want to get up. I don’t want to go through the pain of changing positions again and… well, laboring on the toilet is good. It’s working for me. I feel like I’m more in control of the contractions this way. Like I have power over them, somehow.
Bob returns from the breakfast run and gets face to face with me during one of my contractions. I immediately smell the bacon and push him away.
“YUCK! BACON! Get away!”
Thankfully Laurie prepared him for moments like this.
“Stephanie will not be afraid to tell us what she does and doesn’t like during labor.”
Laurie also said that I would most likely be offended by their breath and suggested we had plenty of mints on hand. Bob brushes his teeth, chews mints and still I can smell the bacon. I can’t even describe how offensively awful that smell was in this moment. I need him near me, but I cannot take this odor. So I tell him (there’s no asking mid-labor) to take off his sweatshirt. And he does. Much better.
(We laugh about this bacon moment now.)
Another moment like the bacon moment was during a contraction when Bob says to me,
“Think of all the women in the world in labor right now. Just like you.”
So I do. It doesn’t help. I know before I said I thought it would. But in the middle of this god awful contraction, it is no help to me. But I don’t have the energy to say this out loud, so Bob continues…
“There’s a woman in India, a woman in Malaysia, a woman in England, a woman in South Africa, a woman in–”
“Shut up,” I manage with what little extra energy I have. It comes out on an exhale like a whisper. And he stops.
Later we talk about it and I apologize for snapping… but he totally got it in the moment. Now we laugh about it. It is funny.
SO… I think that it’s about 9AM when Melinda checks me again and I am still only slightly more dilated. I’m at 2.5 centimeters and 87% effaced (or something like that.)
I’m completely demoralized by this news. Melinda has patients to see on Orcas Island and asks what I think about her going back to the island and returning on the 2:30 ferry. Seeing as I’m progressing at a snail’s pace, I figure that would be fine. So she leaves and we rent the hotel room for another night so I could continue to labor there.
And that’s exactly what I do. More labor. More pain. Which is what I want because that is supposed to equal more progress. Right?
I get into this whole BRING IT ON mentality. The contractions are strong and “productive” as Laurie says. They’re long. A minute and a half. And by the time my contractions are consistently three minutes apart, we finally head for the hospital.
TO BE CONTINUED…