It is Tuesday, September 15th, and I am becoming anxious with the anticipation of labor beginning and being able to move forward from the pregnancy. I began to have many questions. Will she be healthy? Will I be able to handle the labor without medication? Am I strong enough to do this? Will I turn into a crazy woman from the pain? I had taken many classes on the birthing process and had a doula, Camille, who was going to come to my house when the labor began and be with me during the entire delivery at the hospital. Since we were in Puerto Rico where Spanish is the primary language, having a doula to help translate if needed was a huge relief for me. I feel prepared and ready.
My due date was September 17, 2015 and my little girl was going to be at least 8.5 pounds according to my last sonogram. I began having contractions on the 16th and 17th, but they were far apart and not regular. Then, nothing happened on Friday the 18th. Was she not ready yet? The only change I experienced was that I was extremely tired during these three days and took many 2-4 hour naps. On Friday night, Aaron and I went out to eat at a new restaurant and had a wonderful time. I was feeling great and was dancing to Oldies music all night just like my normal non-pregnant self would do. We assumed this would be our last date night before becoming parents and we definitely took advantage of the time we had.
It is now Saturday the 19th and I was awakened to a strong contraction followed by my water breaking at 6:00 am. After sending a text to my doula, I went back to sleep knowing that I had a lot of work coming up. At 7:00 am, I woke again to another strong contraction and lost more fluid. Then again at 8:00 am, but hardly any contractions were following. I ate a light breakfast and went back to sleep. At 12:00 pm, we decided to visit my midwife and see how far I was dilated since nothing was progressing. I was dilated to 3 cm and the fetal heart rate was strong. Since I was at the clinic, I got a quick chiropractic adjustment to hopefully help my baby turn from the posterior position (facing my belly) to the anterior position (facing my spine). I really didn’t want the back labor that comes with a posterior position! Plus the adjustment felt great J
After discussing my progress with my doctor, we decided to go to the hospital and get induced at 6:00 pm to limit the risk of infection. Unfortunately, the on call doctor, who was not my regular doctor, didn’t arrive until 10:00 pm and I didn’t receive the Pitocin until around 10:30 pm. Frustrating… And I was still only dilated to 3 cm. Since my water broke that morning, we had a time limit before a cesarean had to be performed. Time to get the show on the road! Almost immediately after the IV was in place with a low dose of Pitocin (6 ml), the contractions started. And they were in my back. Lovely… I was hooked up to a wireless fetal heart rate monitor, so I was fortunately able to move around the room freely. Thank goodness because laboring in bed was extremely uncomfortable from the start.
Camille, my doula, tried many techniques to try and spin the baby to the anterior position during the contractions, but I continued to have back pain despite the efforts. We turned on calming music and I immediately started using my birthing ball and varying positions to try and help the baby descend. After an hour, the contractions became much more painful and closer together. I was starting to get the hang of breathing through each contraction and focusing my energy on opening my cervix and moving her down. Deep breath in. Deep breath out while using my stomach muscles to push down on the belly during the breath. We were able to talk in between contractions for about another two hours and then I was completely focused on getting through the contractions. It is now 1:30 am and the pain is severe. My back felt like someone was trying to break my lower spine and my belly was as hard as a rock. Each contraction began as a burning pressing pain in my lower back and radiated to the front of my belly. As they progressed, the pain became more and more intense. Camille and Aaron continued to offer supportive words, water, Gatorade, and change of positions. The positions that I liked most were using the birthing ball in a rocking motion, squatting next to the bed, and leaning against the top of the inclined bed. In no way could I handle the contractions lying down. This meant that I was also getting an extreme leg workout in addition to an ab workout and was becoming tired quickly. I had been working squats into my daily routine while pregnant to prepare myself for this and am thankful that I had strong muscles.
I closed my eyes during most contractions and I believe everything was a bit fuzzy when I kept them open. Close to the 4-hour mark, I began to have an urge to push so we had the doctor come and check how far along I was. I was extremely tired and half delirious at this point, but we were all thinking I was close so I felt some relief. When the doctor checked, I was only dilated to 6 cm. I felt like my heart dropped after I heard this. I couldn’t do it. I wasn’t strong enough. I was defeated. I wanted to cry. An epidural wasn’t an option at the hospital and I couldn’t go home. I know that Aaron and Camille saw the look of despair on my face and I am sure Aaron was trying to figure out how he could possibly make this better for me. Tears were welling up in my eyes and I felt like there was no escape. How could I handle 4 more hours of this?
Camille kept whispering that she knew what I was thinking and that I could do it and that I would start progressing faster soon. Aaron kept telling me that I was strong and that I could do it, but I couldn’t shake the self-doubt. I can’t remember if they suggested it or if I just passed out on my own, but I began sleeping between contractions for over an hour. I remember apologizing and saying “just one more sleep” many times. When I woke to an extremely strong contraction, I was wide-awake and they both reminded me that we had a deadline and that I had to try and help the contractions along.
Rested, it was easier for me to endure the contractions since I had more energy. We began squatting again since this position helps the most in pushing the baby down. After an hour, I remember looking at Aaron and telling him “this is so hard”. The pain was so intense that I don’t believe I could have shouted obscenities or screamed. I simply tried to get through one contraction at a time. The relief that came from the end of a contraction was so wonderful that I began focusing on the break to get through the pain. It is now about 5:00 am and we are 6 ½ hours into the labor. I am starting to feel the urge to push, and this time, I couldn’t stop myself from pushing with a contraction. The doctor came in soon afterwards, but told me I was only at 8 cm and that I had to wait to push. Wait?? How??
Thankfully, the nurse told me that if I had the urge to push we would just see what happens and to push when I feel like it. She was not at all interested in the doctor’s opinion of me waiting longer if my natural instincts were kicking in. I wasn’t making any progress lying on the bed so we got back to the squatting position next to the bed and the nurse sat on the floor to monitor the progression. I am pretty positive there might be a hospital policy against this, but I am extremely grateful that she allowed it because I could feel progress with each contraction. No longer were the contractions as painful and I had a huge adrenalin rush. After pushing on and off through about 8 contractions in the squatting position, the nurse said it was time to get on the bed and do the final pushes. The end was near! I don’t remember having back pain during the pushing and can only assume the baby turned in the correct position. I just remember only thinking of pushing. I wasn’t even thinking of the baby. Just pushing. Aaron and Camille helped me hold my legs high up close to my chest and I pushed with all I had. About 4 pushes and the head was out. Ring of fire!!! I actually didn’t know that we were already this far and when they told me just one more really hard push and your done, I was ecstatic. And they were right. Just one more push and she was out.
The nurse quickly handed my baby to me. She was purple with gooeyness all over her and a full head of hair. But most importantly, she was crying. I was crying. I remember looking at Aaron and exclaimed how big she was. It was amazing how the remaining contractions were such minimal pain once she was delivered and how small my belly was. My legs were shaking uncontrollably, but I had a tremendous feeling of relief. The doctor then came in and stitched up a small tear I had and delivered the placenta. It was over. I did it! I can’t believe it really. But I did it! And I was starving!
Penelope Marie Boswell was born on September 20, 2015 at 6:04 am at Hospital Menonita in Cayey, PR. She weighed 8 pounds 8 ounces and was 20 inches long. Becoming a mother was a magical experience for me and I had an immediate bond with my little girl. I was totally and completely in love from the moment I held her.
I couldn’t get enough of her and practically held her constantly. She was perfect and she was mine. I am so thankful for the support I had from Camille and Aaron during the labor and from the nurse during the delivery. If it wasn’t for them, I know that I would not have been as calm as I was during the process. I feel that my relationship with Aaron is even stronger now because he gave me my precious little girl and we now have a family of our own. My heart feels swollen with love and I am extremely happy. Penelope, I love you with all my heart. You are one of the best things that has ever happened to me. I can’t wait to show you the world.