On Monday, 11 December 2017 I had suspected that I was experiencing “prelabor”. The previous night I had been experiencing what felt like mild menstrual cramps throughout the evening and night, but woke up feeling just fine. Being 11 days past my original due date (and 5 days past my more accurate due date, based on time of ovulation), I knew Idin would be making his entrance very soon. My body was feeling more and more ready each day: I could feel him sitting lower in my pelvis and was experiencing more sacral laxity after long walks, though I was generally still very comfortable and energetic.
Excited about another positive sign that we were getting closer, I made day-of acupuncture and chiropractic appointments in preparation for the big day. I already had a visit scheduled with the midwife to discuss options for continuing to plan a home birth should my pregnancy extend beyond 42 weeks. At this visit, she found that my cervix was 1 cm dilated and 20% effaced and Idin’s head was at +1 station (at the level of the pubic bone), which is low and a good sign.
As the sun made its way down the horizon, I slowly felt the return of a constant uterine cramping with a little higher intensity than the previous night, though again with no apparent pattern. I headed to bed around 22:00 knowing I may be having a long night. To help myself fall asleep, I began saying hypnobirthing affirmations to myself in a loop and in minutes I was fast asleep.
“I trust my body to know what to do, and I follow its lead”
“My body and my baby work together in harmony”
“ I set all fear aside and look forward to the birth of my baby with joy and happiness”
At midnight on 12 December 2017, I woke to a sudden intensity in my body and knew that this was going to be the night. At 00:04, I began timing the contractions, calmly observing how they would rise and fall. After 30 minutes of timing, I thought to myself that I must be timing the contractions incorrectly because they seemed to be too close together for early labor: 2 to 3 minutes apart and about 1 minute long, the typical frequency and duration one would see in active labor. I quickly noticed that remaining still increased the intensity so I got out of bed.
At 00:46, I called the Midwife, Dr. Alisha Wilkes. She told me to give her a call back if: my water breaks, I have a bloody show, or the intensity of the contractions increase significantly. Immediately after, I called the Birth Doula, Lisa Shire, to inform her that my labor has begun and that I may need her soon. After ending my calls, I woke Mark up to let him know it was game time. He remained present with me through each contraction. In the initial hours of labor, with each contraction came a much needed trip to the bathroom to evacuate my bowels. Though it was relieving, it was quite uncomfortable to experience contractions on the toilet. As each contraction came and went, I would slowly rock, sway and breathe calmly, usually either on my hands and knees or leaning against the bed, birth ball or the wall.
After about another hour, I asked Mark to call the doula because contractions were increasing in intensity quite quickly. As the doula was on her way, Mark called the midwife and she agreed it was time to come. Thinking that it might be a good idea to eat something, Mark heated up some bone broth for me. In minutes, I became nauseous and threw it back up. The doula arrived at 03:00. and immediately began supporting me and helping Mark to support me. She used a “double-hip squeeze” through several contractions and guided Mark to use touch relaxation to help me calm the muscles in my forehead and shoulders. Around the time the midwife had arrived, The doula hooked up a T.E.N.S. unit to my low-back to help relieve some of the low back tension and distract my muscle sensations.
Throughout the whole night I was hydrating with a ginger lemon labor-ade that I had made earlier, it was my main source of fuel and hydration as keeping food down was a challenge. This stage of labor passed so quickly and smoothly as I just felt in the zone, moving through each contraction. Instead of using techniques to distract myself from the pain, I just put my focus and attention right with it; breathing and moving was enough.