Lamaze Teacher Gives Birth
Being a new Lamaze instructor, I knew throughout my pregnancy that I was going to have Rebekah, my second child, without drugs. I’d given birth to my first daughter, Rachel, with an epidural and although it provided fantastic pain control, I’d always felt like I had missed something. With this birth, I intended to join the centuries-old sisterhood of women who have given birth naturally, endured the pain, and survived. I never thought it would be easy, but I knew I had the strength to do it.
The night of my due date, I began to feel stronger than Braxton Hicks contractions. For several hours I lay in bed timing them and trying to sleep despite my growing excitement. Around 2 a.m., I woke my slumbering spouse. We called our families and my parents headed down I-35 to be with me.
My father arrived first, but my contractions suddenly began to slow and then stopped completely. Feeling silly, I sent Dad on his way. My spouse and I napped and played with our 2-year-old. Just after lunch I answered the call of nature and realized my underpants were wet. Had I leaked urine or had my water broken? Unsure, we called my Dad back to care for Rachel and drove to the hospital to have it checked.
I definitely felt silly as the medical staff sent us home again! I’m a childbirth educator, I thought to myself. Why can’t I get this right? At home, I napped again and began to notice increasingly strong contractions coming at shrinking intervals. By this time my mother had arrived at our house and when she saw me doubling over with contractions that were coming as rapidly as every three minutes, she raced us out the door.
Back at the hospital, I was found to be a measly 2 centimeters of dilation and was nearly sent home again! Rather than return home, I agreed to have my water broken. Within just a few hours, I was in the throes of active labor. My two labor coaches, both fellow Lamaze instructors, arrived around 9 p.m. to help me labor.
We turned the lights down low and put on soft music. My coaches massaged me and helped me move in various labor positions. My sister-in-law kept me supplied with cool, wet washcloths. My mother held my hands; her very presence was comforting. The pain was intense. My contractions were long, sometimes lasting as long as four minutes, and had multiple peaks.
Around 10 or 11 p.m., I was examined and found to be at 5 centimeters of dilation. More hours of painful labor ensued. I was re-examined a couple of hours later and found to be … at 5 centimeters of dilation! The doctor suggested I get in bed and curl my back during contractions. My upright position, he said, was enabling me to arch my back and causing Rebekah’s head to slam against my tailbone rather than moving down through my pelvis. So I returned to bed. Being in bed made the contractions much more excruciating. They also slowed down, but I was able to rest between them. After another hour or so I was examined again and was found to be STILL A 5! In quiet desperation from pain and exhaustion, I asked my mother, How am I going to have the strength to push? God will give you the strength, she replied. To be honest, that’s not what I was hoping to hear. I wanted her to run out into the hall, demanding that I be pumped full of drugs.
However, she turned out to be right. After receiving a few drops of Pitocin to speed things up, I suddenly felt the urge to have a bowel movement. The baby was moving into the birth canal and the end was in sight! My coaches called for the nurse who examined me and said I had dilated to 8 centimeters but was not ready to push until the cervix had fully dilated. That’s when things got exciting to put it mildly. My coaches helped me pant through my next few contractions, but it became increasingly difficult to resist the overwhelming urge to push. I have to push! Check me again! I shouted to the nurse. Want me to wait until your contraction is over? she asked. No! Now! I screamed, flipping onto my back. 9! she reported. Hold on just a little longer! You don’t want to tear up your cervix!
I really tried, but with the next contraction I simply could not hold back. I gave a tremendous, satisfying, yet terrifying push. I’m pushing! I wailed to my coaches, nearly panicking. Blow! Blow! Blow! shouted my coaches. Suddenly the delivery room was a flurry of activity as the staff prepared for the birth of my baby. A quick exam by the doctor revealed that I was FINALLY fully dilated. Now push! he commanded, just as my contraction ended. I will when I’m ready! I snapped. Everyone chuckled. As my next contraction began, my nurse told me to go for broke and to push as hard as I could. Everyone began to shout instructions, but I listened only to the primal powerful directives of my own body. I pushed down with every ounce of strength in my body. I felt no pain as my daughter’s head exploded out of my body, tearing my perineum. All I felt was shock as they said, The head’s out! Don’t push! Seconds later, Rebekah’s whole body was out. She began to scream with rage and the nurse laid her on my chest. I couldn’t believe it was over. Home video of my face in the moments just after delivery show me with my mouth comically hanging open in complete surprise. ONE PUSH? My mother was right about God giving me the strength.
But mom is always right, isn’t she?
My Husband and I Made a Good Lamaze Team
We were watching Seinfeld one night and when it was over, I told my husband that I was feeling strange and crampy (that was at 8:30 p.m.). So about 10 p.m. or so I told him that I thought this might be it. So, I suggested that we time these cramps or contractions or whatever they were. So I walked around the house while he looked at his watch. The contractions were about 10 minutes apart or so, but not painful, just awkward and cramp-like. So, about 11:30 p.m. I told my husband to get some rest because tomorrow was going to be a big day. He thought that I was crazy for suggesting that, but he took full advantage. I, on the other hand was very busy cleaning the bathroom, doing laundry, showering, and whatever else I could find to do. I tried to rest but it wasn’t very easy.
So, at 4 a.m. we woke up (that’s when husband wakes up for work) and he called in to work and we got dressed and drove to the hospital. I got there about 6 a.m. My doctor came and broke my water at 8 a.m. At 10 a.m. the local radio station that my husband works for came and interviewed us on the air. We were walking the halls of the hospital when they came. I got to have contractions on the air, it was quite embarrassing. And from about 9 a.m. until 12 noon, we did all kinds of things, moving from the rocking chair to the bathtub to the hall to the bed.
Finally about 11:30-12 p.m. the contractions were getting pretty harsh and I asked for some medication. They gave me some Stadol. It worked great. I got to sleep between contractions. I would wake about every two minutes and search for my husband’s face to focus on. And he was right there with his eye already welling with tears. And then all of the sudden the nurses and started running around real fast. I heard one say that they couldn’t reach my doctor. And then another said that she would run and get the doctor down the hall, QUICK.
Suddenly my doctor flew in, told me to push a couple times, and then sewed me up. It went so quick. And I just couldn’t believe it was already over. And our baby boy was perfect, no cone head or anything!!!!! And when it was all done, and the three of us were sitting there, the nurse told us what a beautiful job we did with our Lamaze.