We called my mom, who hopped in the car to come down, and the midwives to warn them that labor had started though they wouldn’t come right away. We made and ate dinner, and my mom arrived by 8. Contractions were going well, but we decided to go to bed around 10 since things weren’t progressing quickly and there was no point in staying up. Edward and my mom were keeping track of my contractions on a timer so that they would know when to have the midwives come, so each time one began I would call out “lap”. I alternated between feeling sorry for them because I wasn’t doing anything and resenting them for not also being in labor!
By midnight the contractions were strong and I couldn’t handle them lying down, so they would bring my up onto my knees in the bed. Pretty shortly after that my labor got much more difficult because I started to get sick in between contractions. I would have two contractions, vomit, have two contractions … I’m not good at getting sick in the first place and losing a lot of fluid in addition to the physical strain of the vomiting was taking a lot out of me.
Throughout the night Edward and my mom were always available (rubbing my back, reading me scripture, and praying with me) and Brynne and Deren were quietly there to offer advice, suggest something new, and watch over me. I felt safe knowing that they were there, and everyone was so assuring – telling me what a good job I was doing and how strong I was. I really had to dwell on those positive moments because I kept wondering why he wasn’t here yet and thinking I was never going to be able to do this well – the way I wanted to.
Contractions slowed down in the early morning until noon. At least the vomiting had stopped, I thought, but Brynne told my mom that if I couldn’t get fluids in and keep them down I would have to go to the hospital.
This was a low point for me because I didn’t want to go to the hospital – I wanted to have Lucien safely at home. I was tired from hours of contractions and not being able to keep anything down, and worried what would happen if I went to the hospital and how we would be treated. I was disappointed that I was still in labor and that contractions had actually slowed down instead of speeding up toward the finish line. I wanted to cry – I felt so sorry for myself – but I was pretty sure that if I did that I would never stop and then I really would wind up in the hospital out of my own doing.
Finally in the afternoon Deren asked me if I wanted to take a rest or speed things up (I had been able to drink, but contractions were not increasing). Since resting only brought contractions, during which I couldn’t rest, I said I wanted to speed things up. At this point my mom kept reminding me that Lucien would be here soon – while all I could focus on was how much I wanted him here so the labor would be over and we could get some rest! Deren gave me herbs to stimulate the contractions, and as I finished dilating Brynne pushed the cervix up over his head and the show was on!
I asked Edward later how long I was actively in the pushing phase of labor. “It was what, 30 minutes?” More like an hour he said. I didn’t really feel the urge to push until the midwives told me to start pushing – and then wow! This is the part I remember least well. I felt like I was completely in my body, but not in the room. Things were happening to Lucien and I, people were taking care of us, but from a distance. We had work of our own to do.
As he arrived the midwives brought him up to me – I was the first to hold him. His first cry has a whisper – a tiny little “wah”, so polite.
Once his head was out, the rest was quick and soon we were on the bed inspecting each other. It turns out he was a much larger baby than we had anticipated. I had only gained 26lbs. in 41 weeks, so we were anticipating a 7lb. baby, but he was 8lbs. 12oz.! No wonder he took so long! I think I have surpassed in one labor all of my mom’s combined hours of labor with ten children, and birthed a larger baby. Not something a title I was trying for, but I’ll accept it.
Even after the birth I have felt self-criticism and defeat so near. I’ve wondered if I could have had him faster if I had been stronger or braver. I’ve wondered if I did okay – but he is here and mom and Edward have been so quick to tell me I did well. For days afterwards I’ve needed Lucien near me to make sense of what went on, and I am willing now to say, when people ask “I had a hard labor”.
Looking back I realize I was prepared for to surrender to what came with labor, but I hadn’t thought I would need to actually pursue what was uncomfortable or painful. I expected it to come to me, and instead I wound up chasing after it, in order to ultimately attain relief. I would absolutely have a home birth again. I can only guess what interventions there would have been for us at the hospital when we just needed time. Lucien and I were surrounded by love and care the entire 25 hours we labored, and we brought him gently into this world.