My Pregnancy with Layla was truly uneventful. I never had morning sickness (Thank you God!), didn't look pregnant until 6 mos., and worked up until 3 days before the birth. All of my prenatal care was done at the HCMC Midwife Clinic in Minneapolis. I planned to give birth in their Birth Center, which is attached to the hospital. I originally wanted a home birth, but my husband wasn't comfortable with the idea. I chose this location because they offered the option of a waterbirth. I also used a doula, who is a non-medical support person for labor. She is there to offer support by helping you find comfortable positions and strategies so you can avoid unnecessary interventions.
My last day of work was Thursday, Oct 12th. On Friday I got invited to go to the Mall of America with my friend Fatima and her family. For some reason, I just didn't feel like going. Dave and I went to bed fairly early that night, just because we didn't feel like doing anything.
Saturday, Oct 13th
I woke up around 3:00am and thought I felt a little trickle of water run down my leg. I got up and went to the bathroom, but didn't feel any more water. I thought, "I'm ok, I'm just being paranoid." I went back to bed and just tried to get back to sleep, but I just felt funny. Suddenly, I felt a bigger trickle running down my leg. Dave was still asleep next to me. I tried to get up and go to the bathroom again. As I had one leg on the floor and the other on the bed, about 1/2 gallon of water came gushing out! I screamed "baby, baby, my water just broke!"
I called the midwife clinic and talked to one of my favorite staff midwifes. She told me to wait until I was really in labor to come to the Birth Center. I tried to get back to sleep, but I was just too excited. I wasn't having any contractions yet, but Layla was moving around just fine.
I wasted time online until it was late enough to call my mom and Amanda to let them know my water had broken.
We finally left the house around this time. I was having contractions, but they were somewhat erratic and not too intense. I remember Dave wanted McDonalds and that he ate Chicken Nuggets in the car. The thought of that nasty fried food just made me sick. We picked Amanda up at her place and headed for HCMC.
We got to HCMC and checked in. Once we were checked in we weren't supposed to leave the premises, so we wandered around to stimulate contractions and spent some time in the cafeteria.
My contractions were still pretty weak, but I called my doula, Rae, to let her know what was going on. She was at a birthday party, but I told her to take her time. I didn't end up having her come in until around midnight if I remember correctly.
During the rest of the evening I spent lots of time on a birth ball (like the exercise balls), ate enchiladas, and walked around a lot to try to speed things up. I only had to be externally monitored once an hour, so I was free to do what I wanted the rest of the time. I also declined to have an IV, or to be augmented with Pitocin. Pitocin induction greatly increases the chance that you will need an epidural or eventual C-section due to fetal distress.
Sunday, Oct. 14th Layla's B-day!
Rae is finally here and shows Dave some massage techniques to help the pain in my hips. My hips seriously felt like they were going to shatter as they opened up! We walked the halls a lot more, and at some point I remember throwing up in a hallway trash can. I hate throwing up more than almost anything!
I can't remember at what times I had my dialation checked. I do know that the first time I was only at a 3 and was not progressing very quickly. I didn't get checked for a long time after that, but they wanted me to be at 6 before I could get in the tub.
I also remember Dave and Amanda sleeping on mats during the night and feeling jealous that they got to sleep while I was stuck awake. I had probably been up for almost 24hrs straight by that time!
I got checked again and was finally almost at 6! The water tub was almost ready for me, and I think I got in it around 8am.
Transition is usually the most difficult part of Labor. It definitely was for me. I can't lie and say that it wasn't painful. It was.
However, I knew that I was finally getting close to seeing my little girl. I just had to stay with it and hold on.
During transition I was more vocal during contractions. They were so intense that I would almost fall asleep between them. This is because so much of the body's oxygen is being used during the contractions that there is nothing for the body in between them.
I didn't feel like giving up during this stage, I just kind of went into myself to cope. Everyone kept asking if I needed or wanted anything. I finally told them yes, don't talk to me, and don't touch me!
I knew transition was over because of two things. I felt an urge to push, and my contractions slowed down again. My midwife asked if I wanted to get out of the tub and be checked again. I got out because I was curious, and also because I felt like I needed to poop! That's usually a sure sign that you're ready to push.
She checked, said I was really close to 10cm, and could either choose to go back into the tub or not.
I decided to go to the bathroom first. I definitely had enough control of my body to not poop in the water! That's another reason to not get an epidural, for sure.
I took care of my business, cleaned up, and pushed as I wanted to with the contractions.
The sensations during the early part of pushing were interesting to say the least. I could feel Layla descending through my hips and getting close to crowning. I think part of why I stayed in the bathroom so long was that I
enjoyed the privacy.
I finally came out and told my midwife that I had felt her head, but it felt funny, like a raisin. I couldn't tell if it was the top of her head or her face! She reassured me that it was the top of her head, but that the skin just gets squished up as it comes down the birth canal. I think she was more shocked that I got to her to crowning by myself.
My midwife and nurse put on long gloves as I got back into the water. I had told them before that I wanted to deliver her myself if possible. They would help get me and Layla out of the water once she was born.At this point Amanda asked the nurse how much longer it might be, they told her probably about another hour. It actually ended up only being a few minutes. She barely had time to get a few pictures!
I told myself that it was almost over, once I got her head out it would be easy. I almost pushed her head out through a couple contractions, but would hold back when I felt a burning sensation. Finally, I just told myself, do it, and pushed her head out. I screamed, "her head is out!" Now, I just needed another contraction or two to get her out.
A baby actually turns as it descends to accommodate its own shoulders. Layla's shoulders turned as I pushed into the next contraction. Surprisingly, her whole body came out with that push.
I brought her out of the water and held her to my chest as she let out her first cry.
I had done it!
Oct 14, 2007
After that, I was bleeding quite a bit, so the nurse and midwife helped me get out of the tub with Layla.
The placenta was delivered with a little help from my midwife, and I got to hold Layla and nurse her for the first hour after she was born.
It is hard to explain in writing how transformative and powerful the experience of giving birth was. I was able to consciously and tangibly see and feel another human being coming into the world. This little girl is today the center of our family and the source of so much joy for me, my husband, and countless others. My love for her is beyond words.
On this Mothers' Day I am thankful for the experience of Layla's birth and also for every minute that God gives me with her on this earth.