The story of Mikel
The due date was Thursday, September 29. At my 40 week apt, I was only measuring 38 cm plus I was still feeling great. My eighth and ninth month were great, compared to what I’ve heard most pregnant women say, and I kept feeling so good I was pretty sure I’d be late. A good friend who also happens to be a first time mom delivered 11 days late after 2-3 days of false/prodromal labor and walking through that with her made me realize my due date didn’t necessarily mean that much. So the date came and went, and I continued to live life. Soccer games, cooking, cleaning, nesting, etc. I had no real contractions or other signs of labor that weekend.
I had a 40 week, 6 days overdue apt where Dr. Dalton did an ultrasound, checked all fluid levels and other things. Everything checked out great, and I had lost a tiny bit of mucous plug that morning. I was dilated 1.5 cm there and 50% effaced. We had a talk about induction which neither of us wanted, but being overdue it was a necessary discussion. After my doctor apt, I was SO TIRED. I went back to bed in the morning for 2 hours, something I never do. I did think at the time, ok, this is abnormal for me and maybe this means something. I went for a walk with Polly and thoroughly enjoyed the fall day.
That evening was another soccer game, senior night and I was looking forward to that. I began to feel very mild, non-painful contractions around suppertime. They were sporadic and never regular; I really just ignored them, knowing FTM often have days of false labor before the real deal. Soccer game was great as usual, and having tons of supportive friends there was another distraction. Luke, Richard, Moses and I had pizza at home that night, and I started feeling the contractions about 8-10 minutes apart during supper. I downloaded my contraction app and started timing. It was so helpful for exact data; I’m not detailed and would not have realized they were so regular and frequent. After timing them for about 45 minutes, I realized they were consistently 5 minutes apart, lasting about 45 seconds. I still wouldn’t describe them as painful, but they were more than BH and uncomfortable. I texted Bethany, my doula and updated her. I tried to sleep that night and quickly realized it as not going to happen.
Wednesday early morning:
Just as I started to lay down, the contractions became painful. Luke knew, kindof without me telling him as he heard me moving around so much and getting up to the bathroom constantly. Around 2am, the contractions worsened to the point I got up and in the shower, thinking that might help. Part of my simple birth plan included showering and hanging out in the tub through contractions. It actually relaxed me enough to increase the contractions in frequency and intensity to every 2 minutes. 3 am, I vomited and while puking in the toilet I had the realization this baby was coming this day. Luke slept through about 2/3 of this, and around 4 am, we were both awake. He could hear me breathing hard through contractions. I texted Bethany and said I did not think I should go to the hospital but I did think she should come over. At that point, I was on my birthing ball, breathing heavily, moving around and having Luke put some pressure on my lower back during contractions. He got me juice and water to sip between contractions but I couldn’t keep anything down. I kept vomiting after just a little bit of water.
Wednesday morning, 6 am:
Bethany arrived around 6 am. I felt better immediately with her there. She brought peppermint oil for my nausea, heating pads and was so calm and unsurprised by the situation. I was exhausted due to not sleeping and vomiting and the contractions. She suggested the most restful position and I actually did get some sleep between contractions. I was halfway between sleeping and awake, and was talking to myself, and having dreams and answering non-existent questions from Bethany. Luke did breakfast with R and M and went to work for a few hours. I think at that point we both thought it would be later that day/evening. Around 9:30 I was not getting a break between contractions and they were getting much, much worse. I was trying to breathe and relax through the contractions and it was getting so hard to cope with them. Bethany asked me if I wanted to go to the hospital and I could not come up with an answer. Bethany made the correct decision to call Luke to go. I loved that she had a) assisted at multiple births and knew the exact time when we should go and b) had given birth at home. My hospital bag was halfway packed, and Luke and Bethany threw random things in it that I told them to between contractions. I made it up, out of the bedroom, down our garage stairs and at the bottom of the stairs had THE WORST contraction yet. I laid down in the back of the car and instructed Luke to drive slowly. The bumps were torturous. Funny side note- Luke got a phone call on the way to the hospital and I literally was right in the middle of a contraction and making some noise. I vaguely heard him say, “um, Phillip, can I call you back? I’m actually, uh, taking my wife to the hospital, she’s in labor.”
Wednesday morning, 10:30 am:
We got to the hospital at 10:30; I made it out of the car and Luke helped me inside. He informed the security guard and greeter that I was in labor, unnecessarily. The nurse took a few minutes to come get me, and of course I had a contraction in the lobby; I had to squat to get through it. Luke said later the security guard said I was the most uncomfortable lady he’d seen for awhile. We skipped triage and went directly to a room. I stripped instantly except for my T shirt. The nurse checked me right away and pronounced me 7 cm dilated. I was instantly disappointed, and thought, “3 more hours of this?” I was told a FTM normally dilates a cm an hour. “I can’t do this, I want to be done, he needs to come out NOW” was going through my head. Bethany was so positive about being 7 cm and telling me I was almost done. I announced, I have GOT to go to the bathroom. The nurse wasn’t thrilled about that, she wanted to start my IV, get vitals, monitor, etc…I didn’t care, I was not following any orders at that point. I stumbled to the bathroom and sat on the toilet for 6-8 minutes through a couple contractions. I heard the nurses saying, ok, she really needs to come out; I guess I was making them nervous. I cleaned myself up as best I could and came back out. Katie, our excellent nurse gave me a suspicious look and said, “ok, I need to check you again.” Nursing sense. She checked me and smirked and said “10 cm, fully effaced and a bulgy bag. I’m calling Dr. Dalton.” SO happy to hear that. I think even Bethany was a little surprised. The next 20 minutes were the nurses trying to get me to sit down or lay down on my back to start my IV, or monitor me, or take my BP and me just utterly refusing. It was SO painful to lay on my back even between contractions. All those poor women who delivered on their backs without epidurals, medications… I had asked for a birthing ball at least once, and it hadn’t made it into the room yet, and finally Bethany firmly said, “can she please get a birthing ball?” Sitting on that and leaning over the bed was some mild relief.
Wednesday morning, 11:25 am:
I heard Dr. Dalton’s voice immediately with a big smile in it, “Natalie, I just saw you 24 hours ago, this is so wonderful!” She came in and took charge so gently. She said “well, it looks like your body has you all ready to deliver this baby and you are almost done! You are doing awesome.” They suggested I start trying to push with contractions facing the wall while squatting and working with gravity. At this point, I wasn’t actually having super-painful contractions; I was just feeling a lot of pressure down there. I remembered feeling a little confused about pushing in general- I had done a lot of research on dealing with contractions and pain, but not about pushing. I pushed for 3-4 times, each time trying to rest between as encouraged; I was so exhausted and could hardly hold myself up on my arms and legs. After the second push, I literally turned around and yelled at them, “he is never coming out!” I could feel his head but I had no idea how to actually get him out of me. After pushing/screaming for the fourth time like a madwoman, I declared “He is stuck in me! I cannot do this, should I switch positions?!?” I laid on my R side and a nurse help up my L leg. When I felt a contraction coming, I took a big deep breath and held it and pushed with all my might. I did reach down and feel the top of his head, but it wasn’t very encouraging: it was so hard and big and I just thought, oh boy. Over the next 2-3 pushes his head slowly emerged to about halfway. Bethany and Dr. Dalton were encouraging about the slow progress due to it helping the perineum to stretch instead of tear. When his head was a little over halfway out, I looked down and saw it. The nurse holding my L leg sternly instructed me to push one more time, and how to angle my body and legs. I followed her instructions and pushed with all my might. At 11:59 am, the most amazing thing happened, Mikel Luka came into this beautiful, horrible, broken world, purplish, slippery and crying with all his might. After his head came out, his body came out in less than a second with no effort on my part, and the SECOND most amazing thing, the pain/contractions/pressure stopped IMMEDIATELY. No more, nothing. They gave him to me right away and I held him against me and just shut my eyes.
And, here is a sneak peek of my birth photos: Did I mention, Bethany is also a photographer? :)