We are so excited to share her first birth story. A story of the day that changes a family forever more. A story of strength, trust, and love. A story of pure magic.
I began having contractions on our due date, Sunday May 15th, in the afternoon. They were painless and extremely irregular, but we were thrilled. I had continued to wait tables until 39 weeks, and when I left for maternity leave my boss invited us to come have one last dinner as a childless twosome, on the house. Realizing that this might be our last chance to take her up on that offer (and in fact it was) we decided to dress up and go out for a four course meal. By the end of the night, my contractions were steadily 10 min apart and getting slightly uncomfortable. Our midwife, Karen, was going to come the next afternoon. We took the dog for a long walk and went to bed.
I knew that labor could take many hours or days, and was determined to sleep that night to make sure I had energy for when the "real labor" began. Gaby told me the next day that he watched me going through contractions all night in my sleep. The next morning we awoke, made a big breakfast and fresh juice, and super-cleaned the apartment. We moved all the furniture and set up the birthing tub in the kitchen, and covered the couch and chairs and bed in shower curtain-liners. Karen arrived at 2:45 to assess my labor. We had kept track of all the contractions on the iPad App and anxiously showed her the last hours of records. She looked but said she would rather just watch me go through a couple contractions and then do a cervical check. They were about 6 min apart, and uncomfortable enough to make me sit or lean, but I could still speak normally, and felt that these were pretty mild. As I was getting up to move to the bedroom for the cervical check, my water broke. I was pretty disappointed that because the bag of waters had ruptured I couldn't find out how dilated I was, if at all. So I assumed that I was most likely one or two centimeters, and convinced myself that the baby probably wasn't going to be born until the next day. After all, everyone had told me that first babies are very long labors.
Karen had a very hard time deciding whether to stay, or go home and check back in a couple hours. I told her to go, that I was fine, and could bear through the many hours of these contractions on my own. Gaby was not so comfortable with the idea. In the end she decided it was safe for her to drive back to Brooklyn. We called my friend Summer (acting as doula) to have another person with us, and called the dog-sitter to come pick up our pitbull. Karen instructed us to call her right away if: 1.The contractions quickly became longer and much closer together in a short period of time 2. I could no longer speak through them 3. I felt a shift in weight of the baby's head moving down in my pelvis. She left around 3:45. Literally, as soon as she walked out the door, the first two happened.
I fell into a contraction and began moaning, was unable to speak, & finally felt what I considered was real pain. It was unlike all of the other contractions I had felt. The next one came 3 min later. Gaby told me he was going to run out and stop Karen before she drove away but I ordered him not to. I was envisioning these type of contractions coming until the wee hours of the morning, and saw no reason to have Karen sitting there with us as I moaned through them. I felt more comfortable getting the brunt of the work done alone, as a couple. I tried to take a shower but found myself unable to stand, and fearful of sitting because Karen had said no bath with your water broken. Gaby helped me out and I didn't even bother to get dressed again. Looking back I see that this was the "loss of modesty" stage. The contractions moved to 2 minutes apart. Summer arrived and she and Gaby decided, against my wishes, to call Karen. She told them to fill up the pool, she was on her way back over the Brooklyn Bridge.
Through each and every contraction, Gaby walked me across the apartment, held me up when I couldn't walk, rubbed my back when I fell over a chair or couch or table. I kept trying to move to new pieces of furniture as the pain became seemingly unbearable. Karen arrived back just before 5pm with her wonderful assistant Chanti. She told me to get in the tub, that this baby was definitely coming soon. I thought to myself that "soon" must mean at least 7 or 8 more hours, since this WAS my first baby. The weightlessness in the tub helped immediately, as I felt I could finally relax the rest of my body now like we learned in our Bradley classes. However, soon the contractions seemed to coming on top of one other, with maybe 10 second breaks, and I found myself turning and twisting in the water, trying to find a position that hurt "less" to no avail. I had become, to my surprise, very vocal. I heard sound coming from my mouth that seemed more fitting for a farm animal, but I had truly surrendered to my body at that point. Every now and again my voice would become too high pitched, and Gaby would join in in his lowest voice. I don't remember doing it, but he said I would immediately go back to a low toned voice.
Just before 6pm, after nearly an hour in the tub, Karen said she wanted to do a cervical check. I agreed, and as soon as the next contraction ended she hurriedly checked before the next one began. I prepared myself mentally to hear "4 centimeters" or something close. She was just finishing when I started having the next contraction, and I heard her, through the intense pain, say "9 1/2 centimeters." I screamed out "really?" Two contractions later, my low-toned vocal expressions ended with grunting. Karen told me I had just pushed. Everything changed to bearing down and animalistic grunting. The contractions spaced out a bit, giving me breaks during which I would fall asleep for a few moments at a time. I was so exhausted that when Karen asked me to move into a squat, I couldn't. Gaby immediately got in the water and held me under my arms in a supported squat. I could feel her moving down, and when Karen held the mirror up I could see her dark hair. After an hour of pushing, she was born into the water. I didn't catch her. I was leaning on Gaby with my eyes closed when I heard him start speaking in spanish & crying, & I knew she was finally out. I opened my eyes and she was in front of me.
Our Bradley Method teacher, Mary Esther, said once that shorter labors sometimes need more time to really sink in. It is true. I had so well prepared myself for a long labor that when the whole thing was over in less than 4 hours, I was a bit in shock. I stayed in a business-like frame of mind for many hours afterwards, concerned with what I needed to do next. I didn't get to an emotional mindset until the next day. And now Gaby and I have been falling more in love with her each day. She is all we ever dreamt of, Biet Luna Savransky.