Ingrid's Birth Story, Part 3
Ingrid may be my first baby, but I'd been in labor before. It's intense. It requires all of my concentration, and it tires me out. Contrary to what I heard in my hypnobirthing class, it hurts. But it's not scary, I've learned that I can get through it, and it's so worth it.
When I woke up at 2:30AM on November 16th 2010, I knew right away that I was in labor. For a second, I had the noble thought of letting Kirk sleep for awhile longer as I dealt with these early contractions. Only for a second, though. I woke Kirk up and had him massage my lower back as the next contraction came. Then I tried a warm bath for a while, but this seemed to slow contractions down. Although enticing, I knew that it would all be over faster if I just got on with things. So I got out of the bath and started walking in circles around our kitchen island. Each time a contraction came, I would drape my arms around Kirk's neck, and again he would massage my lower back until the contraction stopped.
Danielle (my midwife) had given us her cell phone number and told us to call when labor began. She sounded so groggy on the phone that we felt kinda bad. But it was so reassuring to be able to communicate directly with her that Kirk called her every couple of hours with an update and request for instructions. Finally, at around 8 in the morning, when my contractions were consistently 2-3 minutes apart, she gave us the green light to go to the hospital. I managed to shower and dress and grab a bagel for the road. We live downstairs from my parents, and as I was getting into the car, my dad happened to look out the window. He snapped a quick photo on his phone as I was looking up at him. He showed it to me later, and I look exhausted. Content, but exhausted.
It's a 30 minute car ride to the hospital from our house. Every time a contraction came, I came so close to demanding that Kirk stop the car. He told me later that he really wanted to stop the car, too. But neither of us said a word.
When we arrived at the hospital, we just walked right in and up to the labor and delivery unit (albeit at an excruciatingly slow pace). Robyn, our delivery nurse, introduced herself, and showed us into our room. She handed me a hospital gown and then left the room to let me get changed. I was grateful for the privacy. When she returned, she hooked me up to some equipment to run a few short tests, checked to see how far dilated I was, and that was it. She suggested I take a walk and that she'd just need to monitor Ingrid's heart rate every so often.
I tried walking back and forth across the room, but that didn't last long. At this point, I was having extra long contractions -- 2-3 minutes each -- and walking was too much effort. Danielle had arrived by now, and she had me sit on a labor ball (aka an exercise ball) and rotate my hips whenever a contraction started. This ended up being my favorite way to get through the labor pains. I'd sit there on the ball with my arms and head leaning on the hospital bed. Kirk would sit behind me and massage or push against my lower back until it was over. (He later told me he could feel my bones moving.) I'd breathe deeply, and think about something pleasant. Sometimes I'd pray intensely and think about baby Ingrid and how this was all worth it. Other times, I'd picture myself on the warm, sandy stretch of beach that I lived near as a child. Anything to get my mind off of things and try to get my body to relax. At one point, I said to Kirk, "I feel tempted...", but didn't finish the sentence. We both knew that I was talking about getting an epidural. But I had decided many months ago that I wanted to do this naturally, so I didn't bring it up again.
After laboring on the ball for quite a while, I was still having double contractions. Danielle said it was because Ingrid was coming down to the side, and my body was trying to move her into the middle. To help it along, she suggested I lay down on my stomach with one knee up, one arm in front, and one arm in back. Then she told me to stay in that position for the duration of 5 contractions. My 9 months pregnant belly was so huge, I didn't know how I would manage it. And I'll be honest -- it was pretty awful. I was extremely uncomfortable even when not in a contraction... and during a contraction I just felt so helpless and like there was nothing I could do to ease the intensity. But it worked! The second that 5th contraction stopped, I got right up and back onto the labor ball. Now I was having normal 1 minute contractions. And let me tell you, the difference between one and two minutes can be huge.
Part 4 coming soon...