At 40 weeks and 6 days pregnant, I woke up around 5am for yet another trip to the bathroom. As I climbed back into bed, I felt and heard an internal “pop” – almost like someone snapped a rubber band. Within seconds my pants were wet. I woke up my husband, Ryan, and told him that I thought my water had just broken. He asked me if I was sure I hadn’t just peed on myself. I stood up next to the bed just as a huge gush of fluid ran down my legs. “Yes,” I said to him “I’m sure.”
We live about 45 minutes from the hospital and had no idea how long things would take to speed up, so we decided to stay around downtown Atlanta. It was the end of July, so we headed to a nice, big air conditioned place where we could waste a few hours: Ikea. I think we looked at every display and cabinet organizer in the store, all while having contractions every few minutes. After Ikea, we tried out a new restaurant and stuffed ourselves with a 4 course-lunch. Someone looked at me when we walked in and said “Honey, you’re about to pop!” I just smiled and said, “I already did. I’m in labor now,” and walked to our table.
After lunch my contractions were about the same as they had been all day. At that point it was around 3pm and we knew that if we went home and had to come right back, we could get caught in a lot of traffic. We decided to go see a movie and to head home after the movie if things hadn’t changed. About thirty minutes into the movie (Inception, in case you’re curious), the contractions started picking up in both intensity and frequency. Ryan and I spent the last hour and a half of the movie standing in the back of
Working through a contraction in between filling out paperwork with the sun setting on the Atlanta skyline the theater, walking back and forth, leaning over the seats while he rubbed my back through contractions. He kept asking if I needed to go to the hospital, but I told him “No, we paid $11 each for these movie tickets and I want to know what happens!” When the movie ended around 7pm, we called Anjli and told her we were on our way to the hospital. Once we got checked in, Anjli arrived to check my progress and I was at 4cm. I was a bit discouraged, hoping I had made more progress, but I also knew that things were starting to move along quickly and tried to stay positive. Per hospital policy, I had to be hooked up to the fetal monitor for a certain amount of time upon admission. Thirty minutes of sitting in the bed through contractions was enough for me! Ryan pulled out our “labor binder” that we had from our natural childbirth class with Confident Childbirth of Atlanta. As soon as I could get unhooked from the monitor, I started moving around the room, positioning myself in different ways that I had learned in class to get through each contraction. We ended up in the bathroom for much of active labor while Ryan alternated providing a back massage/counterpressure on my lower back and applying warm water from the hand-held shower.
Sometime around midnight, I asked for the birthing tub to be filled. I had learned from water birth class that getting in the water too soon could actually relax you too much and slow labor, so I had wanted the submersion in water to be my last tool in the labor process.
Over the next 45 minutes I moved around the tub in various positions pushing about every 1-2 minutes while Anjli checked Jack’s heart rate with the portable doppler to make sure that he was doing okay. I remember feeling the ring of fire and although the pain was excruciating in that moment, I was also so excited and relieved because I knew that meant his head was crowning and I was almost finished! Moments later I was able to reach down and touch his head. After moving into a reclined position, I gave the final pushes, reached down, and pulled our son up out of the water.
We were fortunate that our first birth experience was almost exactly what we had in mind. We were able to follow our birth plan and did not require any interventions. (For example, it was a huge deal for me to not have an IV, which may not be a big deal at all for someone else.) Having complete trust in my midwife, Anjli, allowed me to focus on my job of delivering my baby. I felt safe and supported in the presence of both my husband and Anjli. I felt that my choices were followed and respected and that my husband and I were educated and prepared for the experience. Ryan and I were not sure what to expect, but overall, we remained a focused team. I feel that having him there to guide and calm me provided more relief than any medicine could have in those moments.