May 6, 2008

The Labor

It all started with this guy:
Iron Man.

Friday night Travis and I went to see the new Iron Man movie with some friends. It started at 7pm. So did my contractions. I had had some contractions, on and off, throughout the day, but nothing seemingly significant. But at 7 I started noticing that the contractions were a little stronger, and they continued to strengthen and become more regular throughout the 2 hour movie. It was a good film, by the way, and I recommend it.

We timed them for the next few hours and finally made the decision to call Bernice, since they'd been an average of 5 minutes apart and 1-2 minutes long each. I was instructed to call her back in another 30 minutes but she thought she'd be on her way. We went ahead and also called my friend, LB, who came right over and began timing contractions for us.

Bernice and her assistant, Brandi, arrived around 2am. They got a feel for the situation and Brandi fell asleep on the couch while Bernice stayed up to be available. Over the next few hours I slept between contractions. During the contractions I would hop into a variety of positions. I never "decided" what to do - it was more instinctual.

I was in labor for 21 hours and I had strong, painful contractions for at least 15 of those hours. I had back labor for most of the labor. This was caused by the fact that Lydia was posterior - she was facing up and out, not my back like she was supposed to be. To be honest, the labor was more painful than I ever imagined it would be, and of all the "horror stories" moms told me of their own labors, none prepared me for how intensely painful this labor was. Around 11am on Saturday Bernice called in another birthing assistant, Kim, to help, since she had experience with posterior labors. Travis and I both loved her. As good as Brandi and Bernice both were, Kim walked right in, put her hands on my hips and greatly relieved pressure. She also had me get in the tub, which is when and where Lydia finally turned anterior (facing back).

Positions I used:
- standing, leaning against the wall
- kneeling, leaning on the birthing ball
-laying on my left side, squeezing Trav's hand
-squatting with Travis supporting me from behind while he sat on the bed
-standing, holding onto Travis (in a slow dance type stance)
-kneeling on all fours (I did this on the floor, on the bed and in the tub)
-rocking and swaying was often used

A few things I remember from the labor:
- While in the bathtub I told Travis I couldn't do it any more, that he had to take me to the hospital so I could get an epidural.
- There was a point, also in the bathtub, when I desperately wanted a c-section. I just wanted everything to be over with - even if that meant major abdominal surgery.
- Around 5am I was having a very strong, painful contraction. So much so that it caused me to vomit. And while vomiting I felt a gush of fluid. My response: "Oh shit, I just pissed myself........ Or my water broke." My water had broke.
- I was supposedly very polite throughout the labor, saying "please" and "thank you," as in, during an intense contraction, "Someone please put pressure on my back! Lower! Thank you!"
- After I got sick Bernice started having me drink "LaborAid" a mixture of honey, lemon juice, baking soda and a few other things. It tasted horrible but she made me take a sip after every contraction to soothe my stomach and keep me hydrated. However, by the time I was pushing the taste of the LaborAid was making me sick and I announced loudly after a sip, "I'm not drinking any more of that crap!"
- I pushed for 31 minutes.
- After a good push that moved Lydia down I was told to hold, pant and let my body stretch. I did that twice but then couldn't any longer. I continued to push, just wanting to get it over with, and I heard and felt a pop - which led to over 2 inches of stitches a little later in the day.
-I listened to Johnny Cash during the labor. His low voice helped me keep my cries/moans low instead of high pitched, which helps keeps things loose and open.
-I squeezed LB's hands like crazy while I was pushing.

In the end, Lydia was born red (except for her hands and feet) and crying. There was very little molding on her practically perfectly shaped head. Travis did not end up catching her, which was the original plan, since he was putting pressure on my lower back. (But in the end he was okay with not catching her, though he feels more confident about doing it next time.) Travis did cut the cord, though. One neat thing was that the sex of our baby was not announced to us, but we were able to discover it for ourselves.

The afterbirth was easy and Lydia and I both cleaned up easily as I bled very little. I was absolutely delighted to meet my baby, and like a champ, she self-attached to my breast in an hour and 15 minutes. I discovered that I have a great pelvis and a wonderful uterus. (So says my midwife.)

After things had settled down we all had some birthday cake: pineapple upside down cake that LB made for us. It was delicious!

I ended up having 2" of stitches. My knees were bright red and swollen for a couple of days from all the kneeling I did. My arm pits were sore from supporting my weight on all fours. My upper middle back was sore from the way I leaned on the birthing ball. My abdomen was sore from my uterus clamping down. My hips were sore from labor. In the week and one day that Lydia's been here she's gotten bigger and has learned to latch on very well to the left breast (though we're still struggling with the right). I am very, very sore on my bottom but my daughter is a dream child and I'm loving getting to know her.

LB is also a blogger, and if you'd like to read her account of the birth, please go here.


  1. Good account.

    Kim was so great. When she walked in, a new energy came with her. I'm so glad you two connected. She had quite a way about her. Did you actually feel Lydia turn in the tub? I didn't know that.

    You were so polite that it was funny. I wanted to tell you to stop being so darn polite, and also to start swearing if you had the urge. But I didn't know if those were helpful things to say to a laboring woman, so I let you continue in your polite ways. I guess you did swear when your water broke. I had forgotten that instance.

    In regards to the squeezing of hands: I read in my birth companion literature to only offer two or three fingers to the laboring woman, never four. If she squeezed all four, it said, she could end up breaking a few of them. I remember being very conscious of how many fingers I was giving you each time, making sure to leave my pinky out of your grasp. You did really squeeze, but I doubt you would've broken any fingers had you been squeezing four. Still, it didn't hurt to be on the safe side, I suppose.

    I love that last picture of Lydia. So beautiful!

    Thanks for sharing your impression of the birth. And thanks again for letting me be there. It was so amazing. I'm still amazed by you.

    Happy Mother's Day!

  2. I really enjoyed reading about your birthing experience! I am so glad you got to do it the way you wanted to!! Happy Belated Mother's Day... I was up at 430 am on Mother's Day, helping my sister in law become a mother for most of the day!

  3. I was so excited to see and read your labor story! Can't wait to see her grow and change.

  4. Wow, you're such a strong woman. God knows what He's doing. :) Congratulations and happy belated Mother's Day, you deserve it.

    Alicia :)

  5. Hi, Bonnie. This is Sarah's sister out in AZ. I've been reading your blog for a couple of months now. I told Sarah that you're my home birth hero. :-) Way to go! You did an amazing job with Lydia. Congratulations to both of you! - Audrey