Our Baby’s Birth Story (Part II)

by Lara on November 1, 2012

If Part I’s alternate was, “Is This Labor?”, Part II’s title would be, “When Sh*t Got Real.”

Quick note:  We were very lucky to have a photographer capture the birth and most of my labor.  No explicit photos are posted!  Brandi of Aspin Photography shot our maternity and newborn photos, and generously offered to shoot our birth experience.  She is amazing to work with!

Though I was prepared to labor a long time, the hours from midnight to morning seemed to pass the slowest.  My sister often says that things always seem worse in the dark, and with this in mind, I became fixated on the sun coming up.

Despite the steadily increasing pain of contractions, I wanted to wait as long as possible to start using my relaxation techniques.  I was afraid to “use them all up,” and have nothing left for when labor got really hard (Mistake Number Three.  You can’t be too relaxed during labor, you dummy).  I told Matthew to go back to bed, again, and stayed on the couch breathing through each contraction as I watched the hours slowly pass until 4am, when he woke to find me watching Lady and the Tramp with Lulu on my achy tummy.

Every first-time mom wonders what a contraction feels like, right?  You wonder if you’ll know when you’re REALLY in labor.  Trust me.  YOU WILL KNOW.  My contractions were getting too uncomfortable to finish the movie, so Matthew drew me a hot bath around 5am.

I was told that a bath could do one of two things during labor: it would either slow it down temporarily and things would pick up again when I got out; or it would help me manage the pain while my labor continued to progress.  Luckily for me, it was the latter.  The bath immediately helped and the contractions started to speed up.    With candles lit and a playlist of Simon & Garfunkel and John Denver (at this point I was still rocking the flower child theme), I told Matthew to go back to sleep.

I stayed in the bath for an hour before calling my mom at 6am.  She knew right when she heard my voice that I was in labor, and we talked for about an hour in between my contractions.

By 7:30am, the contractions were lasting a minute each and were about 7 minutes apart.  Our plan was to wait to go to the hospital until they were at “3-1-1”–three minutes apart, lasting one minute each, for one full hour.  I was still only in early labor, but the intensity was unrelenting.  At this point I had been awake for 24 hours, and that combined with about 12 hours of contractions had me feeling tired and frustrated.  I was on our bed writhing around in pain, and needed more support.  Matthew called our wonderful doula, Rachael, and she and Brandi arrived at 10:40am.  I was immediately comforted by the presence of other women who knew what I was feeling and could assure me that everything was going to be okay.

For hours and hours, Matthew, Rachael, and Brandi watched me work through contraction after contraction.

We listened to Enya, Yiruma, and Mozart.

I snacked on toast, potato chips, yogurt, and water.  Lots and lots of water.

We spent the afternoon trying every position under the sun.  Eventually the intensity got so strong that I could only make it through one or two contractions before needing to try another position to cope.  Rachael was fantastic in encouraging me to move around.  My instinct was to freeze up and not want to move in between contractions.  I was so scared of getting caught in the middle of one when I wasn’t physically ready.

Matthew was a wonderful coach.  He remembered all the techniques we had learned about in our classes, anticipated my every need, and put up with me snapping at him as things became more and more painful and exhausting.

Together we walked, rocked, swayed, and breathed.

At some point Rachael made the comment that I looked graceful.

{Tip:  Hire a doula who will tell you that you look graceful when, in fact, you are sweating, swearing, and snapping.}

It was around 2pm when I felt something change in me emotionally.  I started, for no apparent reason, to cry.  And apologize.  And become absolutely paranoid that everyone was mad at me.  (Incidentally, this is how I get when I’ve had too much to drink, but I assure you that no alcohol was consumed.)

I started to breakdown.  I was concerned that I was taking too long and that everyone was just going to up and leave me.  I continued to need overwhelming reassurance that everything was OK.

In fact, Rachael assured me that this was a very good sign.  I was progressing along the emotional signposts of labor exactly as expected.  No one was mad at me.  No one was going to leave.  The baby was coming.

“Do you think I can do it, Rachael?”  I cried.

“Yes Lara, you can do it.”

“No, but do you think I can do it?  Because I know you say that to every woman because you have to say it.  I need to know that you think I can do it.  Because I’ve never done it before.”

“I think you can do it because you’re doing it,” she said.


With that I was able to pull myself together, and we decided to try another hot bath.  Matthew read to me from a silly book about dogs we had bought specifically for labor.  Again, the bath was helping to speed my contractions, but at their most consistent, they were still only about five minutes apart.

Rachael and I made a plan.  My 40-week appointment with the midwife was scheduled for 4:40pm that afternoon.  Instead of canceling the appointment and going to the birth center at 3-1-1, (which felt like it was nowhere in sight), we would go to the appointment and I would get checked.  This was a roundabout way of finding out how I had progressed without the pressure of getting admitted to the birth center or “lobby laboring,” which I wanted to avoid.

We talked about what would happen at the appointment, and Rachael mentally prepared me for the possibility that I would be checked and not progressed as far as I hoped.  We walked through the options.  The birth center would only admit me if I was dilated to at least 4cm, but Rachael said it was more ideal if I was admitted at 5cm (the further along I was, the less chance for unnecessary interventions like pitocin to speed things along).  I knew if I got there and was at 4cm, I would not want to turn around and come home again.  We decided to see how the appointment went and reevaluate once we had more information.

I stayed in the bath for about an hour while Rachael and Matthew took turns coaching me through the contractions and packing up the car.  Everything had to be done in between contractions, so it took forever just to get me out of the bath, dressed, and down our two flights of stairs.  We paused to take one last belly picture and headed off.

I don’t remember much about the car ride to the hospital, other than being in total agony from a few hard contractions that were made worse by my restricted movement.  Luckily it was only a short ten minute drive.

I had to stop a few times on my way up to the lobby of the midwifery center, where all my standard checkups had taken place.  Finally I checked in and we waited for 20 minutes before being called in to the exam room.  Those were twenty long minutes.

My contractions had now picked up to finally being consistent at four minutes apart.  I waited in the exam room for the visiting midwife, Susan, to come in for my appointment.

She was late.  Very late.

I was increasingly unable to cope.  I was carrying around a hand towel from our bathroom as if it were a children’s lovey blanket; throwing my head into it to scream every time a contraction hit and she still wasn’t there.  I had about five contractions in the exam room while we waited, and they were absolutely terrible.


A timid-looking nurse came in the room and told me she thought it would be best if I just went straight to the birth center, which is in a separate building of the hospital.

“But I don’t know if I’m ready to be admitted yet!”  I protested.  She looked at me as if to say that she knew I was ready.  Instead, she politely told me that Mia was at the birth center and waiting for me.

That was all I needed to hear.  Mia was my favorite midwife and the person I hoped would be on call the day I went into labor.  I didn’t even wait for the nurse to finish her sentence.  I ran out of the exam room and made it as fast as I could to the birthing center, stopping for the contractions as they came and went.

Finally we made it.  When I saw Mia, I started to tear up.  I was crying and saying her name, hoping she could magically make me feel better.

I got settled and mentally prepared to be checked for the first time since labor began.  I prayed I would be dilated to at least 4 cm so I could stay and not have to go in the car again.

Here’s something I wasn’t prepared for:  vaginal exams during labor SUCK.  Getting examined under normal conditions is uncomfortable.  Labor hurts.  The two together are terrible.

She checked me and happily announced my progress:  it took all night and almost all day to get there, but I had made it to 6cm!  I was 90% dilated and the baby was at 0 station.  The spirit of the room immediately lifted.  I was formally admitted, and I was more determined than ever to get our baby out before midnight.

Stay tuned for Part III!

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Tanya @ Vegan Faith November 1, 2012 at 10:54 am

Oh the cliffhangers! I am just praying my labor is a little bit more speedy 🙂


Lara November 1, 2012 at 10:56 am

For your sake, I hope so too!


betty November 1, 2012 at 10:59 am

i wanna know now! haha i waited to read part one, cause i thought maybe it would only be 2 parts! haha!


Lara November 2, 2012 at 10:47 am

LOL, sorry! I did warn you it would be very detailed 😉


Stephanie Chulick November 1, 2012 at 12:30 pm

Thank you so much for posting these far!!!! It’s amazing. I literally almost started crying. It’s so wonderful to hear about, since I couldn’t be there.


glidingcalm November 1, 2012 at 7:34 pm

ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh this is so suspenseful! Even though I know the outcome, duh….. but really! I feel like I have so many questions for the next time I get to talk to you! HA


Leah November 2, 2012 at 12:27 am

You have such a way with words to capture this whole experience! You have done so amazing so far… I kinda felt like I was right there with you hehe. Can’t wait for part three.


Lara November 2, 2012 at 10:47 am

Thanks Leah 🙂


Kellie November 2, 2012 at 3:36 am

It’s been 15 years since I had a birth experience, but remember like it was yesterday. Thanks so much for sharing this Lara! Truly can’t wait for part III. Hurry 😉


Ruby @ Focus, Woman! November 2, 2012 at 4:00 am

This is beautiful, I love your story so far! And I agree with your doula, you do look graceful, absolutely beautiful.


Lara November 2, 2012 at 10:47 am

That is so sweet. Thank you Ruby 🙂


jaki November 2, 2012 at 11:01 am

i literally was crying. ahhh the part where u got emotional really got to me. cant wait for part 3!


elise November 4, 2012 at 11:43 am

yeah, i teared up with this one. and i made kyle read it too bc matthews seems like he was such a rock for you.


Lara November 5, 2012 at 9:38 am

Ha! I made Matthew read so many birth stories when I was pregnant! Glad I’m not the only one. It’s funny to be on the other end 😉 I’m so excited for you!


Andrea@WellnessNotes November 5, 2012 at 12:23 pm

Beautifully written! And beautiful photos! Something else I regret – not taking enough photos during pregnancy and none during labor… Actually, Andy almost forgot to take newborn photos – our nurse had to remind him to do so!


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