Stuck in Labor

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Many thanks to Tania Elfersy, co-author and publisher of Purple Leaves, Red Cherries: A Gift for Mothers with Short Stories, Journal & Toolkit, for sharing her story with us.

Illustration by Nomi Melul Ohad, first published in “Purple Leaves, Red Cherries.”

I had entered labor to give birth to my second child.

I was excited and fearless as I waited to drift into the birthing rhythm of my body.

But I couldn’t feel the rhythm. I felt stuck.

My contractions had started late evening but instead of arriving and departing, each time they left a tingling pain. Each contraction never ended. Each new contraction never started; it was already there.

I had made reservations to give birth in a natural birthing center in my local hospital. I called the midwife on duty and she suggested coming in. I was 4cm dilated – just enough to enter the delivery room in the depth of the night. I paced, rocked, leaned against the wall with my hips swaying but the rhythm eluded me and birth was not progressing. The midwife had run out of suggestions and I was not dilating any more.

By 6am the fatigue was overwhelming. I began to slip into quiet despair. I knew I was too exhausted to give birth.

Then the midwives changed shifts. Debbie walked in and took one look at exhausted, pregnant me having a hard time to balance on a physio ball and told me:

“Go to sleep!”

Really? Could I sleep in the middle of labor? Was I allowed to occupy the delivery room while sleeping on the job?

I climbed onto the bed and within seconds I had dozed off. My contractions had stopped or at least had become so gentle, I didn’t feel them.

Three hours later, I was awoken by renewed contractions. Sunlight graced the room and I felt energized and ready. I was overjoyed. The rhythm came and I entered, blessed by a birthing trance.

I worked through the rest of the second stage of labor in the bath. With the onset of each contraction, warm water was poured down my back; I gently moved my hips in circles and used my deep birthing voice to fill my body with a soothing tone; the pain melted.  Four hours later, I sat on a birthing stool and my baby girl was born.

Five years on, I look back at my birth story and want to learn.

Today, in my work, I am seeking my rhythm and often feel stuck. I am working hard, feeling exhausted and often making little progress. It is time, I have decided, to reenergize.

I am taking time to step back and learn. I am taking time to connect with others. I am taking time to breathe deeply and reflect.

And when I am roused by all that I have learned and the new energies that I have gathered, and when the sunlight glistens, I will move forward and succeed.

Would you like to share your story with us? Simply send it to unexpectant@meaganchurch.com.

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