It would figure that after a super easy and almost problem free pregnancy, that labor wouldn’t be be a walk in the park for me. Besides some exhaustion in the first trimester, I was symptom free and my awesome little bump started growing from week 16, much to my amazement and excitement! At 31 weeks pregnant, my husband and I moved back to the U.S. after living in Israel, so my care with Ruth and the Birth Center started only in my 3rd trimester. I felt immediately welcomed and comfortable with the center and the staff and was so excited to finally meet my baby girl. I had done so much research on “natural” birth (all birth is natural, right?) while seeing a traditional gynecologist in Israel, so I was so happy to finally be with the people, and in the place, where my birth dreams would come true.
My doctor in Israel gave me a due date of April 19 and Ruth put it at April 21. On April 19 I had an appointment with Ruth and she did an internal exam. I was 2cm dilated and 60% effaced but she said labor could happen in 2 hours or 2 weeks, so just go home and go about life as I had been doing. Sure enough that night I started feeling some cramping. By 12:30am I was on the floor in the bathroom doing circle 8’s with my hips and breathing through each contraction, thinking to myself naively that this wasn’t that bad! By 2am, I felt I was for sure in labor and not having braxton hicks so I called Blanche, the midwife on call since Ruth was away. Jen was also on vacation until that evening, so I was starting to slightly freak out that I would be without Ruth AND Jen for my delivery. Blanche was amazing though and told me to continue doing what I was doing and call her around 8am to see how my contractions had progressed and determine when I should come in. To make a long story short, after a check at around noon with Blanche when I was around 3 cm, laboring in the tub at home and trying to eat and drink lots of water all day, at 5pm we met Blanche back at the Birth Center and found I was 4cm dilated and 2 hours later, at 5cm, I was cleared to stay! I was not going home again without a baby!
Fast forward to around 3:00am. I was miserable, in pain, only at 6 cm and not amused. Blanche broke my water around 3:30am, after laboring for 27 hours at this point. It felt amazing for a second and then, WOW, my contractions became so intense, so close together and just flat out miserable. I had dreams of epidural needles and how amazing it would feel to go into my back (something I had previously feared pre-labor) and I was doing everything I could to make it through each contraction but between intense exhaustion and too much pain, I was over being pregnant and wanted this baby out now. It would figure that around this time another woman came in, laboring with her second child, and after less than an hour popped out her baby in the water. I could hear her screaming, followed by her daughter’s first scream and at that point I started crying and telling my husband it wasn’t fair. Out in the hall, I could hear the snores of my parents and I was pissed. I didn’t get to have a baby! I didn’t get to sleep! My life is horrible and giving birth is horrible and when will this end!!??
Finally at 7am Blanche told me to start pushing. I got out of the tub, I guess it wasn’t working for me, and alternated between the birthing stool, squatting next to the bed and laying on my back on the bed. All the fears I had about pooping during labor, making weird noises and being naked in front of others, went out the window as I crossed all those things off my list. If you and your husband or partner weren’t close before, well, you will be after you give birth! I pushed for 3 hours, and was supported incredibly by Jen, Janet and Blanche. I can say without a doubt I could NOT have done this without them. They put wet towels on my face to cool me, force fed me juice and water and Janet kept checking and reassuring me that my daughters heartbeat was strong. They gave me such verbal encouragement to go on even when I thought I couldn’t and amazing direction on where to focus my pushing and my breathing. I asked Blanche at one point if she could just stick her hands up inside me and pull her out. I guess that wasn’t going to happen.
After 3 terrible miserable hours and a sore throat from screaming, I saw everyone’s face change as they ALL stared at my hoo-ha and yelling at me to keep going, that her head was coming out and I just needed to push for a few seconds longer.
At 10am on April 21, 2012, my daughter, Ori Rose, was born. 35 hours after my contractions started here she was. She weighed in at 6 pounds, 8 ounces and 20 inches long. I delivered the placenta soon after and a few hours later we were on our way home. Even though the first thing I said to my husband after her birth was, we are NEVER having another baby again, I hope if I do, it will be with the Birth Center. I have had an amazing postpartum recovery, I think in large part because of my unmedicated birth and being given advice and support by the women at the Birth Center before, during and after birth. Had I been in a hospital I think I would have taken drugs and perhaps have had to have some sort of intervention either because I wasn’t progressing fast enough or because pushing for me was hard, long and not productive until the end, making a vacuum or forcep delivery, or even a c-section, inevitable in a hospital setting. I’m so grateful I was able to live out my plan for an unmedicated birth and was able to do so not only because of the Birth Center environment but because of the amazing team I had with me from minute 1.
As I try to end my story, I can’t find the words that adequately express how I feel. So I stole them from another birth story from The Birth Center, Zen Lavrov. “My husband and I cannot fully express the love and gratitude we have for these women. Their knowledge, expertise, and compassion made me confident during my pregnancy and our daughter’s birth. They helped us create a beautiful memory to last us a lifetime.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.