I want to start my story by letting you know that my husband and I waited about eight years for this baby to come. Thankfully, I was not pregnant during those eight years and having miscarriages, but what my husband and I were, was another couple facing infertility. In fact, it is what is called secondary infertility. I had my son about three months after my first year anniversary. Multiple reasons brought my husband and I to the decision to postpone another pregnancy (including a miscarriage) and after four years my husband and I were finally at the point to start unofficially trying. Little did I know that it would take an almost additional eight years to conceive again, but I did and here is my story.
My Little Bit’s birth (my husband and I decided not to find out our baby’s gender because nine months of waiting was no comparison to eight plus years) began somewhere after midnight which would have technically been Wednesday, October 15 (to me it was still Tuesday night). I was awakened by back labor contractions. I knew these contractions very well because I had the same contractions with my son’s birth 11 years prior. I was excited to know that I would be seeing Little Bit soon. I laid there awake for a little while, debating if I should wake my husband and tell him I was in labor or if I should go back to sleep and wait until labor became too serious to handle on my own. I opted to tell him, so he wouldn’t be surprised. I remember reaching behind me and tapping my husband on the side to wake him up (at this point in the pregnancy I was sleeping with two pillows under my head, two in between my legs, two under my feet and two behind my back. so rolling over was quite a theatrical event) he states that I poked him in the liver! I just wanted to wake him up to tell him to get some sleep because it would be a long day! I blame this train of thought on hormones, excitement and, well, any other excuse I can think of.
After this little episode, I headed downstairs to get something to eat and my husband went back to sleep. Even though I knew I was in labor I still wanted to make sure I was truly in labor. Did I mention that I am a doula and I was still questioning if I was in labor or not? As soon as I was done eating, I threw it all up and at this point I knew that this was real. I don’t remember if I ever went back to sleep, but I do remember my husband eventually waking up, the contractions getting closer and stronger, and calling my doula to come on over. This had to be about 6:00 or 7:00 in the morning. My husband called his father to come and watch my son, who at the time was also having a pain crisis in his back (he deals with Sickle Cell Anemia and hadn’t had a pain episode in years).
When my doula arrived my husband had music playing, candles burning and a plethora of snacks in our bedroom. It really was peaceful and I was amazed at how well I was able to breathe and moan through each contraction. I did many position changes and began to realize that the intensity of the contractions would drastically change with position changes. When I was on the birth ball, I couldn’t talk through the contractions, but when I went for a walk with my doula through our neighborhood, we had a lengthy detailed hour-long conversation. I was also timing my contractions and they would go from three to five minutes apart for an hour to ten minutes apart for a couple of hours. Now this was my doula’s first birth, as she was in training, so I knew there were some labor signs she wouldn’t recognize because of lack of experience, but I recognized them.
Throughout the morning my husband kept asking if I was ready to go to the hospital and I kept saying no. Around 1:00 pm, I told both my husband and my doula I wanted to go to my prenatal appointment that was scheduled for 3:00 pm. My husband was confused as to why I would want to go to my prenatal appointment and not the hospital if I was in labor, but he said he trusted me and I am glad he did. I didn’t tell anyone the thoughts that were running through my head about what was going on because I felt a little embarrassed that I had everyone come over so early in the labor process, but remember there were times where it seemed as if I were heading into active labor.
After becoming a doula and finding out about the labor process, I had since had a feeling that my son was posterior during his birth and it was the cause of such a prolonged labor. During my current pregnancy, I had an anterior placenta and Little Bit was always at an angle at every prenatal visit. So throughout this pregnancy, I had a suspicion that Little Bit might be mal-positioned during labor. So here is my reason for going to my prenatal appointment versus the hospital: I believed that I was only a couple centimeters dilated and that Little Bit was posterior and I didn’t want to get sent back home. At my prenatal appointment, my midwife confirmed my thoughts. Not only was I only 2 cm dilated and Little Bit was posterior, but Little Bit was also angled with her head pointed at my left hip/thigh area and her butt pointed toward my right elbow. Her position was not putting any pressure on my cervix to help me dilate and thus the reason I was only 2 cm at my prenatal appt. I had a lot of work to do when I went back home.
I left the prenatal appointment sending my doula and father-in-law home to get some rest and getting myself some heartier food to eat. After my prenatal appointment my contractions really diminished in intensity. I went home, ate and slept until around 11:00 pm when my contractions woke me up. My husband had just gone to sleep, so I decided not to disturb him even though my contractions had really started to pick up in intensity. I was doing lunges during each contraction, as was recommended by my midwife, to help Little Bit get into position and after awhile I was barely able to do the lunges through each contraction.
After about a couple of hours of getting through contractions by myself, I had to wake my husband up. I got into the shower and before I knew it, my husband was telling me I had contractions up to three minutes apart for over an hour. I had been in the shower about 30 minutes and it seemed like 5 minutes. I got out, called my doula and my father-in-law.
We headed to the hospital around 5:30 am on October 14, exactly one week after my husband’s birthday. I rode with my doula as my husband drove his pick up that was extremely uncomfortable for me because the seats sat at an exact right angle which caused Little Bit’s rump to sit in my chest. The ride to the hospital was very hard because I had built up a pattern that when the contractions started, no matter where I was, I would stand to get through them and I obviously couldn’t do that in her minivan. I was elated when we finally got to the hospital because I could finally get out of that position.
When I got to the hospital they checked me as soon as I was in triage and I was 4 cm. My midwife said I could go back home or stay. The decision was up to me. It was hard to make this decision because I realized how intense the contractions were getting by the moment, yet I didn’t want to play the waiting game at the hospital. My doula, husband, nurse and resident doctor were all waiting on me to decide. They all helped me come up with a plan; my midwife was headed in to the hospital for another birth, if by the time she got there I wasn’t dilated more, I would head home. During the waiting time, I walked the halls and labored in the bathroom. For some reason bending over the bathroom sink or holding on to my husband during contractions was what helped me handle each one. Kristin, my midwife, got there around an hour later and I was 7 cm! I was so glad because I couldn’t wrap my mind around heading back home and laboring in that van two more times (back home and back to the hospital).
I headed to my birthing suite and asked that the tub be filled up right away. I never made it to the appointment where you fill out your forms for a water birth, so I ended up signing the papers in the tub itself! When I sat in the birthing tub it was INSTANT relief. I even asked everyone, “Did someone give me some drugs and I didn’t know it.” I was able to talk, laugh and get a short break as the contractions were a lot less intense.
The contractions gradually picked up again and eventually I could feel pressure. TRANSITION was almost my breaking point. I remember patting on my husband’s chest saying, “Richard, my back really hurts.” I remember thinking, “This is the point where my clients are asking for pain medication. Do I want pain medication? No, I am only thinking about it because this is when my clients are thinking about it.” And then more contractions hit. At this point, I felt like I couldn’t relax through the contractions. They were coming closer and closer together, and all of the discomfort was in my tailbone. It was a very focused discomfort. So uncomfortable in fact that I did not want to get out of the tub to even use the bathroom because I thought the contractions would be even stronger. I did get out and empty my bladder and I was glad I did because I finally saw some bloody show that helped me realize just how close I was.
My midwife suggested I push through each contraction. I tried to, but I just couldn’t get my energy to focus on the right area. I was pushing, but it felt like the pushing stopped at my belly instead of my bottom. She eventually decided to check me and was not able to tell how far along I was, but I was able to finally get a really good push, while she was checking me and my water broke! What relief I had! So much of a relief that I laid on the side of the tub on my husband’s hand and fell asleep. I heard him ask my doula, “Is she supposed to do this?” I think I started smiling and fell into a deep sleep after that.
It felt like a long time, but I think it was only a matter of minutes when the contractions started back up strong, intense and close together. I was lying in the tub, but just couldn’t get into a position to handle the contractions. I think the Jacuzzi tub wasn’t big enough for me to really move around and still be submerged in water. The midwife eventually suggested I get out and head to the bed to labor on my hands and knees. I was not set on having a water birth (I wanted all my options available in case I needed something I didn’t know I would need), so I gladly started getting out in between contractions.
My husband held one arm and my doula held the other as I stepped out. First my left leg, up and over the tub wall, then my right leg, up and over the tub wall and that is what it took. In between lifting my right leg up and placing it down on the floor, I felt Little Bit turn left to right and move down the birth canal. I will NEVER forget that feeling. It was AWESOME. There aren’t enough words in my vocabulary to explain it. I don’t think I would have been able to have this moment had I gotten an epidural and I am so honored to have this birth story to tell because of it.
As soon as I felt her turn and drop, a contraction came. I turned around and squatted beside the birthing tub and said, “I can’t make it to the bed!” My midwife put her hand on my bottom area and stated, “Well of course you can’t your baby’s head is right there.” With my next contraction, I pushed on my own and I truly know that ring of fire. I just kept panting, “Oooo, it’s hot, it’s hot, it’s hot.” As I felt the head emerging, my midwife and doula asked if I wanted to touch, but I didn’t because I was in the zone of pushing. I was so focused, in fact, that my midwife had to remind me to wait for a contraction. I could barely feel the contraction, but as soon as I got a hint of one I pushed.
Little Bit, pretty much, slid out a little while later. Kristin passed Little Bit through my legs to me. As soon as I laid eyes on Little Bit my focus on pushing left and I immediately smiled at my baby. I remember Little Bit looking me in the eyes and me looking into those brown eyes. I grabbed my baby and just hugged and hugged. My midwife eventually said let’s see if we have a boy or girl and, when we checked, we found out we had had a baby girl! My husband stated he knew she was a girl because when her head was birthed she screamed a high-pitched squeal. I didn’t hear this scream, probably because I was a little bit busy at the time, you know, PUSHING!
To this day my daughter can scream a high-pitched squeal and my husband is still in love with it. I love the sound of my baby girl and am so happy to have another birth that I will never forget.
Deborah A. Allen is a mother or four (ages 14, 2 and 3-month-old twins), a doula and a wife of 15 years. Deborah is currently breastfeeding, co-sleeping and baby wearing her twins, as she did with her previous two children. She has worked at a not-for-profit pregnancy help center, started a local birth networking group and mentored other doulas throughout her career. Her ultimate goal is to attend medical school to work as an obstetrics and gynecological medical doctor.