After two continuous weeks of "pre-labor" symptoms I had a break on Saturday and had not experienced any contractions, cramping, etc. We stayed up pretty late and went to bed around 1:00am on Sunday morning. I was having a hard time sleeping because I just wasn't tired and I had to go to the bathroom to pee about every 30 minutes. At 3:20am I got up to go to the bathroom *again.* This time was a little different. I didn't make it all the way there before I felt like I had peed myself. I was so frustrated thinking, "Really! Really!?!?! Now I have to deal with bladder incontinence too?!?!?!!!" So I sat down on the toilet and after peeing my one standard teaspoon (total waste of a trip to the bathroom by the way) I decided to just sit there because I still felt the urge to pee. After about 5 more minutes I felt about 4 tablespoons of fluid leave my body... this was not pee. I waited a little longer to be sure and another 4 tablespoons left me. So I yelled at my husband, Brandon, and woke him up. I told him to call the birth center because I was pretty sure my water had just broke.
I remember feeling this great amount of frustration. My water had broken and I had no signs of contractions. I was just remembering everything we had learned in our Bradley classes about how much more difficult my labor was going to be with my water broken and I had this sinking feeling inside me thinking that this was not going to be easy. After my little pity party, I called my midwife Leslie and she answered almost immediately despite it being 3:45am. I described what had happened and we came up with a plan. If I did not start having contractions within 6 hours I was going to meet her up at the birth center to take some castor oil. More sinking feeling inside- Castor oil would not be fun. Otherwise I was to give her a call back when my contractions were 5 minutes apart, 1 minute each in length for at least a hour.
I hung up with Leslie and not 3 seconds after I got off the phone I had my first *strong* contraction. So strong I stood up off the toilet. I exclaimed to Brandon who was standing in front of me, "This is not like the other contractions!" It was a sharper pain that I felt deeper in my abdomen and I didn't have any of the tightness in the top of my belly like I had with the previous pre-labor contractions. This one was long and strong. When it was finally over I was relieved. I decided I did not want to sit on the toilet anymore. I decided to put on a pad and move to the living room to labor. Brandon was trying to convince me to go back to bed when I had my next contraction. It was fierce and I told Brandon to run and get the computer so we could start timing contractions. I was thinking that this contraction was coming a lot sooner than it should have come.
Sure enough after 12 minutes I had had 6 contractions- my contractions were 2 minutes apart on the dot. I told Brandon to call Leslie back and tell her my contractions were 2 minutes apart. Initially, both Leslie and Brandon did not think that I could possibly be that far along until during Brandon's phone call I clearly went from late first stage labor into transition. I started screaming out during my contraction. I think this is when some adrenaline kicked in because I remember getting this clarity in my mind about where I was at and getting very serious about what needed to happen next. Brandon and Leslie came up with a plan. It was going to take Leslie 35 minutes to get to the birth center. It would take us 15-20 minutes so we needed to wait a little longer before leaving.
I told Brandon to call my friend Melissa who lives nearby to come over right away. Melissa is a nurse practioner who has been working in labor and delivery for several years. I was thinking that I wanted Melissa to check and see how far along I was before we left the house because I had a fear that I wouldn't be able to make it to the birth center. Then we would need to go to the hospital instead- less than 5 minutes from the house. I don't remember a lot about the pain of the contractions at this point except to say that they were one right on top of the other and I had no breaks in between. Melissa arrived very quickly and when she arrived I made the executive decision to go ahead and try to make it to the birthing center. I figured that if I was going to have the baby in the car, at least Melissa would be there to help deliver her.
We left the house and Brandon started driving the speed limit down the 35 mph street. I looked at Brandon seriously and said, “You need to speed. We are going to have the baby in the car if you do not speed.” Brandon told me lovingly to focus on my breathing and that we would get there soon enough. I told him he was wrong and that he needed to speed. We continued to argue about the speed of the car for the next five minutes. My contractions were still coming one on top of the other. About 5 minutes into the trip, my contractions changed once again. I was now entering Stage Two labor. I literally came out of my seat in a new pain. I screamed loudly and Brandon stopped arguing and started speeding. I told him I had the urge to push and it was strong.
My mind immediately became focused on what we learned in our Bradley classes. I was mentally focused on not having the baby in the car. I remembered to start panting and doing shallow breathing. I started the breathing; trying to focus on the breathing instead of the urge to push. The urge to push was undeniably strong. There was no question in my mind where I was at physically. Brandon then lovingly reminded me to take deep breaths so I wouldn’t hyperventilate. He didn’t realize where I was in labor. I barked back at him that if I was going to start taking slow deep breaths then I would be having the baby in the car. The next contraction hit and I couldn’t help but to bear down a little. I could see the birthing center now. We were almost in front of it. I remember letting go at this point and letting my body do what it was trying to do. I didn’t bear down or fight the contraction, just let it come over me. I could feel the baby pressing down into my pelvis.
Brandon put the car in park and I immediately threw the door open. I was suddenly a woman with a purpose. I ran (yes ran) up to the front door and checked the knob. Relief went through my body when the knob gave way to let me inside. This told me Leslie was there and waiting for me. I saw Leslie at the top of the stairs and ran to her. Taking the stairs two at a time I was yelling, “I have to push!, I have to push!, I have to push!” Leslie was so calm and helped me the rest of the way up the stairs. I blew past her into the room and threw myself on the bed. I remember my head hitting the headboard but it didn’t hurt- I had to push! I threw off my clothes and assumed the position. Leslie calmly came over and put on a glove and told me she was going to check me to see where I was at. She took less than 10 seconds to check before telling me that I was a 10, she could feel the baby's head and I could push. The next contraction hit at that moment and I immediately put everything in my body to work towards pushing her out.
I remember Brandon holding my hand; hearing both him and Melissa give me lots of encouraging words. I was focusing on my pushing and the things they were telling me gave me the strength to do what felt impossible at the moment. My contractions still were pretty close together, but I did get a small break in-between (maybe 30 seconds to a minute- it was short). They all encouraged me to breathe during those times and I needed the reminder because I wanted to keep pushing even though I wasn’t having a contraction. I remember saying, “This is not the way to have a baby! This is not the way to have a baby!” I was lying flat on my back. When I had jumped in the bed I did not consider my labor position. Too late now the next contraction was coming. Leslie told me that it was okay, my body would do what it needed to do and I believed her.
So I resigned all of my preconceived notions about labor and decided to push my baby out. Within 3 total pushes from the time I landed on that bed, I had her head out. When I was pushing her head out during the third push, Leslie told me to stop pushing and take 3 deep breaths. It was everything I could do to stop pushing but I gave in and let my body have a break. I took the breaths, Leslie gave me the okay and I completed my third push. I remember feeling some relief when her head was out. Two pushes later, the rest of her body was out and they placed my beautiful daughter on my stomach. The first thing I said after delivering her? “Well, that wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be!”
What we didn’t expect was how much our lives would change after that moment.
We’ll be parents for the rest of our lives to our beautiful baby girl. Hannah’s statistics were impressive: 8 pounds and 6 ounces of happiness. Both her head and chest had a circumference of 13 ½ inches and she was 22 inches in length- we have one tall girl! She was born at 4:45am on August 21st, 2011. Hannah arrived a mere 8 minutes after we arrived at the birthing center. My labor was less than an hour from start to finish and is called a precipitous birth.