Now to continue onto the second chapter of my birth story, delivery at the hospital…
With the okay from my midwife, Dianne, we gathered our things, waddled me to the car, and were on our way to Newton Wellesley Hospital. Being 12:30 am there was hardly anyone else on the roads and the car ride was smooth, but managing active labor while belted down in the car was torture. Each red light was mental agony!
We got to the hospital, checked in at the emergency room, and went to an exam room in labor and delivery. A kind nurse took my temperature and blood pressure. Then she placed monitors on my belly to see how I was contracting and how the baby was doing. When Dianne checked me I was totally thinned out and dilated to 4cm. (Originally on my birth plan I did not want to know my numbers, but after many hours of labor, I changed my mind. Thankfully birth plans are a discussion, not rigid law.) My contractions looked great so they removed the monitors and we were admitted.
By now it was around 2:00 am on July 5th and we had been up for almost 24 hours, so once we got to our room James and I were ready for some rest. Our nurse, Jen, set up a bed for James next to me. We shut off the lights and slept. Of course, I woke up every four minutes for a contraction, but it was still restful.
After a while my contractions started getting more intense again. I noticed it was just getting light outside. With a major contraction, I felt and heard a pop. “What in the world!” I thought to myself. (It was my water breaking; however, nothing came out because baby’s head was so far down.) Suddenly I felt the urge to vomit. “James wake up! I’m going to throw up!” My dazed husband fumbled around on his flimsy hospital cot, unable to get up. Thankfully Jen came in just in time for me to vomit in a split bowl. My body told me, “We’re thick in it now!”
I needed to find another laboring position. I tried kneeling at the head of the bed with my arms draped over the top, but I didn’t feel grounded enough. We knew the nurses at Newton Wellesley were well-versed in active labor techniques so I followed Jen’s lead. She helped me get off the bed, raised it, and had me stand leaning over at the foot of the bed. This was a great position because I could use my legs to bend into the contractions and swaying my hips between rushes helped me recover. Occasionally Jen used a portable monitor to check the baby’s heart rate, but I hardly noticed because I was in the zone.
By now the pain with each contraction was the most intense pain I had ever experienced. I had to face some moments of internal fear. “Can I really do this? Is going natural worth it?” What got me through was remembering that this work was for my baby. All I needed to do was take things one contraction at a time and allow myself to regroup in between. At this point, I couldn’t process James’ encouraging words so I told him to simply tell me “it’s okay, it’s okay.” After each contraction he had me sip apple juice and told me I was doing great. Communicating my needs between contractions was a key part of our teamwork.
Things started to really pick up and I felt my belly almost convulsing. Later we realized this was baby shifting down. Again my body told me something new was happening. I had them call Dianne to come and check me. I was 8 cm and very ripe. Dianne had me get in the bath to help soften me up. I was too far in transition for the bath to be relaxing. My legs couldn’t reach the foot of the tub and I needed to be grounded. James put a footstool in the tub anchored it with one hand while holding my arm with the other.
Once again the bath intensified my contractions and suddenly my body started trying to push without me telling it to. For fear that I would tear, they told me not to push. This was the most painful part because I was fighting my body, which meant adding tension. There was a shift change and my new nurse, Lisa, helped me with rhythmic breathing. I focused on pushing out my breath while staying open and relaxed in my bottom. Still, I had a difficult time controlling the urge to push. My body was telling me, “It’s go time!” so I had them call for Dianne.
Contractions come in series like waves, starting with less intensity and then building. When Dianne came in she watched me work through a less intense contraction so she said, “Let’s do five more in the tub and then we’ll have you get out.” Then I had a doozy of a contraction and again I had to fight against pushing, I started to pant, “Ouch, ouch, can’t control!” Quickly Dianne reached her hand in the tub, checked me to find I was fully dilated. “Go with it!” she exclaimed. With the go-ahead from Dianne I pushed with my body’s impulse to push. It felt wonderful to work with the contraction!
Dianne said she could see the head so we needed to get me out of the tub. (I did not want a water birth.) Everyone in the room helped lift me out of the tub. As soon as I was out, another intense contraction started! I held onto James’ shoulders while Dianne had her hands between my legs with a towel. After the contraction, I waddled to the bed clinging onto James as Dianne kept her hands between my legs. I got onto the bed and they positioned me to push. James was right by my side, holding my leg and telling me I was doing great. I waited for the next contraction and then went for it!
As I pushed I felt baby’s feet press against the top of my uterus and his head opening my bottom. Pushing was so empowering! It was athletic! I was so determined to see my baby and end my labor. Once I started pushing there was more time between the contractions so I prepared myself for the next push. I pushed through about five contractions and was in the middle of another one when Dianne told me to stop and look down. My baby’s head and shoulders were out. Dianne helped me reach down lift my baby out of me and onto my chest. A heavenly rush came over my whole being! He was finally here, crying beautifully. I responded the same way I did when James proposed, I laughed with joy. Baby and I cuddled as the nurses worked on him and as Dianne worked on me.
Birth makes you like Humpty Dumpty… After giving birth you have to be put back together again. James cut the cord. We all admired each other while Dianne sewed some superficial tares. Once I was stitched up we had our first feeding. Baby took to me like a champ! Our life as a family had a beautiful start.
Before going to the recovery room we had some time in the delivery room so we ordered breakfast… Food was glorious after all that hard work! We were also visited by the pediatrician. BabyCakes had a great checkup and we praised God for our healthy baby boy. Eventually, we were taken to our recovery room, the place that became our cozy nest for the next two days. After all the hard work and preparation we were officially a family. Now it was time to for me to rest and recover. It was time for us to enjoy each other and fall in love.
Wife, work at home mom, and bassoonist, Laura Ankrum lives in Iowa City, Iowa. Prior to the arrival of her two children Laura taught elementary music and band in the Boston area. Now her home is her classroom and music studio. Laura is passionate about education, encouraging other moms, and eco-friendly living. She is the social media coordinator at Thirsties Inc.