I've read "The Husband-Coached Childbirth" and I truly believe in the Bradley Method, but it doesn't exactly work for us. As you may have remembered from previous birth stories, my husband tends to spend a good portion of my labors asleep. It's not entirely his fault. It seems I always end up laboring in the middle of the night. So we were pretty enthusiastic when it appeared that this would be a day-time baby. And yet, we both ended up falling asleep anyway.
So there we were, sitting in a now-dark room, listening to the rain beat against the windows. I was thinking about how much I didn't want to go back to the house, and how much I just wanted to have this child. And Jon was thinking about how much he didn't want to go back to the house only to end up turning around and coming right back again. So we decided to rally and give it our best shot. When the midwife came back in we asked if we could stick things out and maybe hit the stairs. Since she was in the thick of the labor next-door (that unlike ours, from what we could hear through the walls, was progressing right along) she was fully supportive and even demonstrated her recommended move - lunges on the steps.
So that's we we did for a little while. Me lunging, two steps at a time, and Jon standing close by in case I suddenly lost my balance. Then we decided to take a few laps around the office. So I started pacing the hall and circling the waiting room. Meanwhile, the thunder is growing louder and the lightening flashing closer, and the lights in the Birth Center actually flickered off for a hot second. We were finally starting to get somewhere with contractions and Jon decided he'd man the Contraction Master phone app. So he pulled up a stool and put himself in charge of pushing the button whenever I would tell him a contraction started and ended.
And then his athletic side really started to come out and he suggested I throw in a few lunges every couple of rounds. At this point he was thoroughly enjoying the spectacle and thought 10 jumping jacks might be helpful too. And, being the submissive wife that I am, or perhaps just a desperate mom in semi-labor, I thought it sounded like a good idea too. So for the next 30 minutes I'd speed-walk a few rounds in the office, do lunges the whole way down the hallway, and finish off with 10 jumping jacks. And since there is no shame in childbirth, I'll even share this video my thoughtful husband decided to capture.
Contractions were down to three, sometimes two, minutes apart. But, as I explained to the midwife, I didn't feel like they were doing much. I wasn't "in the zone." I mean, Jon and I were laughing and joking the entire time. It definitely wasn't serious labor. I was starting to get tired and I didn't want to physically exhaust myself before labor had even started. So we headed back to our room to meet back up with the midwife.
At this point she offered to "check" me. We had been putting it off all day because my water had broken and we had to be extra-careful about introducing bacteria or anything. But after 15 hours of a limp-along-labor we were all a little curious. So she checked ... and said I was wasn't dilated at all.
Seriously, I wanted to punch a wall.
Then she said, "Oh, no, wait. You're just really posterior. You're a 4, almost a 5."
I was immediately relieved to hear that I was indeed somewhat progressing. And then I was frustrated, yet again, that I was only 4 centimeters and probably should be at home finishing up those last few meals I wanted to put in the freezer.
This was right about the point where the castor oil kicked in.
Which was quickly followed by the mom next door actually giving birth. Jon and I could hear her screaming through the wall. (And I say that in a non-judgemental way because I'm sure she could hear me screaming later that night.) Then it got quiet, until we heard the baby cry. And then I wanted to cry too because (a.) other people having babies always makes me cry and (b.) I was so ready to have that experience myself. So it was back to the pump. And soon things were really crack-a-lackin'. I stopped pumping when contractions were around 2 minutes apart. Then I laid on my side in bed and that, my friends, is when I entered "the zone." I really wanted to stay upright but things were getting downright painful, so the nurse brought me a birthing stool and I sat by the edge of the bed draped over a pile of pillows.
Eventually, I had to start moving. This is also the point where I got really cold and was shivering so I wrapped myself in a blanket and started pacing the room, back and forth. Another one of my favorite midwives stopped by to say hi, right in the middle of a contraction, so I could barely be civil towards her. A little after 7:00pm contractions were about every 1.5 minutes and lasting almost a minute long. In other words, I just barely had time to catch my breath in between them. This was also the time when I told Jon he could stop timing them. I was starting to feel some pressure with each one and I was trying to think back to Julia's labor and when I had felt the same, to gauge how close we might be to the end. The midwife checked me again and I was 7 centimeters, almost 8. Not good enough. Not ready yet. But for the first time that day she had to drop her doppler a couple of inches to check the baby's heartbeat. So the good news was Baby Girl had finally started her descent.
After she checked me I decided I'd just stay in bed. The nurse stuck around and Jon started massaging my back. Which was glorious because after four babies, this is the first time I've gotten a back massage out of one of my births! I think this is the point where I probably started to get loud. I'm generally a calm laborer but, man, things get intense at the end. And then my hands went numb. And I was so incredibly happy because that has happened to me every time I hit transition and I had been waiting 16 hours for that moment to happen again.
Soon, very soon, I started feeling the urge to push. Susannah came in, checked me out and said she didn't see the baby's head yet. A few more contractions, and I'm still feeling the urge to push. And so my body started pushing and she didn't tell me to stop. She asked Jon if he wanted to catch. He politely declined. And in just another moment our daughter was lying on my chest, arms and legs squirming, lips pursing and eyes slowly blinking, taking in her new world. She was beautiful and perfect. And I was never more relieved in my life!