Nine years ago, I was eagerly awaiting the birth of my first child. And when I say eager, I mean I couldn’t WAIT to see him. If you’ve ever given birth, you know that by the end of the third trimester you’re not only exhausted but also just ready to finally see this baby you’ve carried around inside you for so long. You want to look at his eyes, see what color his hair is, count his fingers and toes; I wanted to know every detail about him.
I wanted to have a natural birth with no medical interventions. I found a doula to assist with labor and delivery, and my husband and I took HypnoBirthing classes, which I absolutely loved! Along with teaching relaxation techniques and providing birth affirmations, the class also focused on the incredible things our bodies do to grow, deliver, and nourish our children.
The last trimester was wonderful for me; I remember telling my doula, “I’ve never felt better!” I read piles of books about childbirth, listened to my relaxation tracks, and went to the beach as often as I could. As the due date neared, I planned out what I wanted to do during the first stages of labor: movies, baking, music, and enough other activities to last a month.
At about 38 weeks, I started feeling some surges, but they didn’t persist, so my husband and I decided to make every night “date night.” We were both thrilled that our family was about to become three, but I really did love those last few weeks of “just us two.”
As the 40-week mark came and went, I wasn’t worried at all. I knew my body and my baby knew what to do, and he would come out when he was ready. A quick non-stress test at the doctor confirmed that everything was fine, and we settled in to wait.
At 41 full weeks though, I was having a hard time. It was Mother’s Day, and I was just crushed. I’d been so looking forward to being able to hold my newborn son in my arms on my first Mother’s Day, and it was just so frustrating that there was still no sign of him coming.
That evening, when I finally felt a contraction, I was completely ecstatic. They were coming about every 45 minutes, but I was so excited that the contractions had finally started that I could barely sleep! I remember thinking, “Oh! This really is going to happen! They really do come out!”
The next morning, my husband and I went for a long walk on the beach to try to speed things up. At that point, the contractions were still relatively minor, and I wanted them to hurt. It wasn’t that I wanted to be in pain, but I knew that each surge would bring me closer to meeting my baby!
About a third of the way into our walk, I realized three miles might have been too far! So I called my doula, and we slowly made our way back. By the time we got home, I knew it was time to focus on labor.
I wanted to bring a fresh-baked treat to the hospital to share with the nurses, so we’d planned to make special red-velvet cupcakes while I labored. I probably should have started making them sooner, since my husband ended up doing most of the work while I watched from my birthing ball.
Our doula stayed with us at home for a couple of hours, during which time I transitioned from sitting on the birthing ball listening to my relaxation tracks to laboring in the bathtub, which felt amazing. I didn’t look at the clock at all, but my doula told me later that while I was in the tub my surges had started coming about every three minutes. We called the doctor, and he told us to come in, so we headed to the hospital.
That drive, the 20 minutes in the car, felt like an eternity. My husband did a great job steering with one hand, putting counter pressure on me with the other. We did have to pull over during one really strong surge, but we made it to the hospital.
When I checked in, I was about six centimeters dilated and ready to push, but the doctors told me I had to wait just a little bit more. About two hours later, I really wanted to push. This was the hardest part for me, that last bit. I really had to focus on relaxing through the surges since I was still only at eight or nine centimeters.
Finally, at about 7:30, I got the okay to push, and it just felt amazing. Yes, it was hard, and yes, there was pain, but because everything was progressing, I was able to cope in a calm way. There was never a place where I thought “I cannot handle this anymore.” I was able to ride on the hormones and endorphins, and exhaustion never set in for me. I just kept reminding myself that each push would bring me closer to meeting him.
An hour later, at 8:24 in the evening, they put this warm little baby on my tummy and my first words to him were “Hello, Son.” I was smitten; it truly was love at first sight. At that moment, my heart opened in a way I didn’t know was possible, and I knew I would do anything for him in an instant.
Be you bravely,