Our Birth Story, Part 2

Around 10:30pm my mom went home to get some rest, since it was clear I was not having the baby that day. My sister camped out on our couch, and Kourtney and I went to bed. And that’s when things started to get going. I tried to sleep, or at least lay down comfortably, laying on my side was very uncomfortable, and with each contraction I had to roll over onto my hands and knees, gripping our headboard to steady me, letting the contraction crest and fall. After rolling back and forth probably 5 or 6 times I just got out of bed and pushed away the thought of getting any rest. My contractions were about 5 minutes apart at this point and getting stronger. I probably could talk through them but I didn’t feel much like talking. I would stand next to my bed until I felt the start of a contraction and then I would fold over, head and arms on the bed, belly hanging low, until it faded away. Eventually I asked Kourtney to put counter pressure on my hips to ease the pain a bit. Little did she know, she would be doing this for HOURS.

Now, at this point time began to lose all meaning for me. I know that many other birthing people have had similar experiences during their labor, as they moved into “laborland”. But around midnight, it seemed very clear to both Kourtney and I that I was in active labor. We called my mother back, woke up my sister, and sometime around then Kourtney called Cynthia to let her know we thought things were really getting going. By the time she arrived I had started vocalizing during each contraction (or surge, as she calls them), and she gently reminded me to keep my shoulders relaxed and let my jaw hang open. She told Kourtney to get some rest, and then she listened to baby’s heartbeat with the doppler. After that basically let me do my thing, sitting with me through the contractions, making notes, observing me (a seasoned midwife is a keen observer) and providing support as needed. My mother and sister sat with me too, making sure I was drinking water often, sometimes even bringing the glass to my mouth so I could take a sip. My mom continued to time my contractions, and my sister made me one scrambled egg (more than one seemed just too much for me at that moment).

Around 2 or 3am, Cynthia got a text from our second midwife, Hannah. Another client had also gone into labor the day before, and she was ready to push. It’s standard practice to have two midwives in attendance for each birth (luckily they always have additional midwives on call), so Cynthia offered this: “I think it would be a good idea to check you, if you are okay with that, and if you are still in early labor I will go.” I agreed to the cervical check, thinking that I was in active labor and that the check would only confirm what i was feeling.

However, the cervical check confirmed that I was still in early labor. I was only 2 centimeters dilated! I was devastated. I really tried hard to put a brave face on but I couldn’t help but think, how can I only be at a 2 when I’ve been working so hard? In my mind my labor had started as soon as my water broke– that was my body telling me it was go time! How could 24 hours have passed without going into active labor? As soon as Cynthia left I began to cry. I was so disappointed that I wasn’t farther along. My mom and sister consoled me, rubbing my back and telling me it was okay. Each contraction felt like a slight betrayal, because how could they feel so strong and yet be so “unproductive”?

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