It all started on Monday night. When I first started feeling contractions, we went out for Thai food because everyone had told us that I should try to eat as much as possible to maintain strength and energy. In retrospect, it was really nice that we did it just to have one last night out with just the two of us!

When we got home, the contractions were not strong or very regular, but were happening every 10 minutes or so for a couple of hours, so I called my midwife and told her that we would probably be calling later that night. At around 11 the contractions got stronger and were about 10 minutes apart. I was too excited to sleep so I just stayed up and messed around with all the baby things. By morning, though, the contractions were slowing down. Dorie, the baby I was nannying, came over around 7 and I told her mom that I might call later in the day, but that I could keep her for then. Philip stayed home and helped, but I wasn’t having many contractions at all by that point.

Then again on Tuesday night (my due date), the contractions picked up in the night. This time I knew that it didn’t necessarily mean anything, and I was pretty tired, so I did try to sleep. They were coming every 10-15 minutes and sometimes I think even more like half an hour when I was sleeping, so I was able to sleep between contractions quite a bit. Again though, by morning they were slowing down. I spent most of Wednesday sleeping, which was good because the next day was very intense.

Wednesday night the contractions started again at about 11, but this time they were much worse. The pain was all in my back, and during contractions the back pain was terrible; I never really felt the stereotypical stomach contractions, though. I called my midwife C at about 2 to tell her that I thought I needed to go to the birth center. She came to our apartment to check me, but I was only 4 centimeters, so she encouraged me to stay home longer. Since we don’t have a car, she told us she would plan to pick us up on her way in the next morning at 8, so I knew how long I had to keep trying to cope at home.

I spent the rest of the time in the bathtub. I just turned the water as hot as it would go and let it keep running, overflowing through the little hole (awful, I know!). I also vomited on the bathmat and tried to wash it in the tub… I don’t think I was thinking very well at that point.

When C came to pick us up I felt so relieved. I was sure that the baby would come pretty much as soon as we got to the birth center. We got settled into our room (one of three in a beautiful old Victorian house that’s been converted into a birth center) and I had a small check and listened to the baby’s heartbeat and then the midwives left us alone to relax. A midwife would come to check on us and check the baby every hour, but other than that, we were on our own (as we had said we wanted to be).

We also went on a walk during that time, although we didn’t get far. At around noon I had another internal exam. I was only 5 cm, only 1 more than the night before! I was in a lot of pain, and hearing that I had only dialated 1 cm during all of it was crushing. At that point I started asking to go to the hospital, saying I couldn’t do it without drugs. Fortunately, my husband and my midwives knew that I didn’t really want that, so they strongly encouraged me to stay and keep working.

Honestly, I don’t really remember much of that afternoon. I remember feeling like I was dying, the pain in my back was so bad. The only even slight relief I had was in the water, so I spent a lot of time in the shower and birthing pool. The midwives encouraged me to get up and walk, so I tried, but it was so hard. We have one picture from the birth of me laying on the floor because the midwife had told me to walk around until she got back from doing something and I somehow thought that if I wasn’t in the bed, that would at least count for something! I just wanted to lay down and rest, but every time I would try to get comfortable, I would have another contraction. At some point, the midwife broke my water, but it didn’t seem to change anything.

Finally at around 7 I got into the birth pool and by 8 I could start pushing. I didn’t feel a strong urge to push, but an internal exam revealed that I was 10 cm, so I decided to just start pushing. I was so ready to be done! The baby had a hard time getting under my pubic bone, probably because she was posterior (sunny-side up!). Getting on my hands and knees helped with that, though, and she did eventually get through.

After an hour (maybe? the timing during this part is really fuzzy for me) my main midwife, K, discovered that I had a cervical lip, a part of my cervix that just wouldn’t open up all the way. Causing what was definitely the most excruciating pain that I have ever felt, she had to (TMI alert!!!) reach in while I was pushing and try to stretch the cervix around the head. It took a couple of contractions of that to get it fully stretched. At one point I told her point-blank that she was absolutely not allowed to do that on the next contraction; I was taking a break from it, consequences be damned. Once it was done, though, we could see the head! The lights were off and there were candles lit, so they got a flashlight and a mirror so I could see. It was so amazing!

She was still having a lot of trouble getting out, though. After 3 hours of pushing in the water, the midwives suggested that I try getting out. I was very reluctant because the water was helping so much with the pain, but at that point I was ready to do anything that might get the baby out.

When I got out of the water, I went to a birth stool, which is basically a chair with a hole in the middle. After just a few contractions on it with just the top of the baby’s head showing, the baby came shooting out! She had not tucked her chin in (military position), so the biggest part of her head was the first thing to come out, which resulted in a tear that the rest of the body just burst right through. All 3 midwives and Philip screamed and she almost didn’t get caught. When they were filling out the paperwork, they had trouble even figuring out who caught her. I was a little disappointed because I really wanted to be the one to catch her, but she was up on my chest within seconds, so it all worked out. Ada was born at 10:43 pm, on July 23rd.

We all moved to the bed and I got to hold Ada while her placenta was born, which was really easy. Then I got to cut her umbilical cord, which turned out to be harder than I thought it would be. I snipped it the first time but I didn’t cut all the way through so I had to do it again. It was a little freaky, but I’m glad I did it.

After that, Philip got a chance to hold her while I got stitched up and then Ada had her first checkup. She was 6 lbs, 14 ounces and 20 1/2 inches long. Once that was done, we met the post-partum doula who would be with us through the night and the midwives went home.
Obviously, a lot of stuff happened after that, but since this is just the birth story, I think I’ll stop here. That’s the story of Ada!

A mama to just one, for now, and a natural birth advocate and breastfeeding fanatic!