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August 31, 2011

Labor and Delivery, Part 2

We arrived in the labor and delivery unit just in time to meet our nurse as I doubled-over with another contraction. We were ushered back to our room and went over a myriad of questions as I swayed against Jonathan with each wave of pain.

Then it was time for the moment of truth. I climbed onto the bed, hoping and praying that we wouldn't be sent home. The nurse pulled on her surgical glove and checked our progress; much to my relief, we were informed that we were already between 3-4 centimeters. I looked at Jonathan and breathed a sigh of gratitude, knowing that we would be staying until we had our baby and realizing just how differently my body was reacting to labor than it did with my son.

As another wave of pain hit, I begged to get off of the bed and made my way over to the birthing ball, planning to sit and save my energy for later. The relief was short-lived before the pain was so unbearable that I told the nurse that I needed to get into the tub.

For months, I had planned to use warm water as a coping mechanism to deal with the pain of labor. With the moment of truth at hand, I was ready to put it to the test.

Before climbing into the tub, I asked to be checked once again for progress, hoping that somehow the pain I'd endured wasn't for nothing. The nurse's answer was music to my ears- we were between 5 and 6 centimeters.

As gracefully as possible for a woman in labor, I waddled over to the tub and was instantly grateful as I felt the hot water cascade over my rock-hard belly. All of the documentaries and articles on the Internet didn't lie; the warm water did wonders for pain relief.

With Jonathan by my side and music playing in the background, I continued to labor through the contractions. For some reason, I found myself completely unable to use the "he" breathing technique taught in every single labor and delivery class across the country, instead preferring deep breaths to try to stay calm.

Meanwhile, the nurse had realized that I would be delivering my baby much faster than anyone had originally anticipated and made the call to summon my midwife, Deb. She arrived as I was laboring in the water and quietly encouraged me to relax completely between contractions.

Slowly, I could feel the pain becoming worse. I remember looking up at Jonathan and telling him that I was scared. It wasn't so much the pain, though that was becoming more and more overwhelming with each surge, but I had decided that I didn't want any medication. I had waited nine long months for a natural birth and I was terrified that I would give in to the pain and beg for medication at the last possible moment. Jonathan reassured me that everything would be fine and, no matter what happened, soon I would have a baby in my arms.

I refocused just as the pain graduated to a new level. With each contraction, I felt my entire body stiffen like a board. I could hear Jonathan and Deb trying to remind me to breathe, even as I moaned through each wave.

At that point, my midwife intervened. In her brilliance, Deb realized that I was close to delivering. She told me that the pain wouldn't get much worse and encouraged me to get out of the tub so she could break my water and help speed things along. I distinctly remember looking up at her and asking if I could get back into the tub after my water was broken to manage the pain. Whether or not she knew it at that point, her next words sold me on the idea of climbing out of that soothing water when she told me that I could... but that she didn't think I would have time before delivering my baby.

I was out of that water faster than you can say postpartum and clutching the end of the tub with another contraction. As soon as it was over, the nurse was helping me back to the bed and strapping the baby monitor across my belly. As I laid down and Deb prepared to check my cervix once more, I felt another wave of pain building and realized exactly how much difference the warm water had made.

Without warning, my entire body revolted against the pain. As I laid there, I vaguely recall hearing her say that I had progressed to eight centimeters in just over two hours of being at the hospital.

Deb prepared to break my water as I clutched Jonathan's hand. With each contraction, the pain was becoming more and more intense and I felt the control I had experienced just a few moments prior slipping away.

I felt my hands begin to tingle and, in the face of the pain gripping the rest of my body, I lost it, demanding that someone tell me why my hands were going numb. My midwife looked at me very seriously and told me that I was hyperventilating. In the midst of another contraction, I heard someone tell me that if I didn't slow my breathing down, I would pass out.

In that moment, nothing sounded more blissful...

The final installment of the story coming soon!


  1. Funny, my labor was the opposite of hyperventilation. The doctors gave me Staydol (awful, terrible, atrocious drug!) to help me sleep during pre-labor. It didn't stop the pain—I wanted a natural birth—but it did cause me to be so drowsy that I was falling asleep, even while pushing.

    To feel the pain of contractions and not have the energy to push? That was frustrating, to put it lightly. I wanted nothing more than to be awake!

    Can't wait to read the rest of the story! :)

    P.S. Evelyn has always been one of my favorite girls' names.

  2. Oh goodness, what a cliffhangar! :)