My daughter’s name is Steele. Her birth was something I was very much looking forward to (I’m serious). I wasn’t scared. I wasn’t fearful of the pain, of what could happen, etc, etc.
I have been lucky enough to hear TONS of birth stories through my postnatal clients, and hear a huge range of experiences so I felt pretty supported for the unknowns.
I was anxious about the sensations and whether I would be able to stay with it mentally. I felt really strong physically. I had been doing my birth prep exercises, my strength training…but the mental part, I wasn’t quite sure I was “tough” enough.
At the end of all these feelings, I was excited to come through through the other side of what women experience when the body goes through during labor and birth to bring this baby I’d been growing (still surreal) in my body to the outside world.
For weeks prior to her birth I had been repeating in my head the mantra, “I’d rather feel more than less.” To keep myself focused. To remember that sensation was productive.
I had no idea how deeply these words would apply.
Steele’s birth went NOTHING like I thought it may. But, now I really believe that it was exactly what I needed to experience.
We planned for a home birth with midwives and a doula. If at any point they recommended we transfer to hospital or if I felt more comfortable going to hospital, we would go. I felt really confident with the plan.
Sunday, August 9th
I’ll start by saying that women in my family carry babies a long time. My sister and I were both born at 42 weeks. My mom laboured a loooong time (24+ hours). It’s normal stuff.
I had mentally prepared for both of these scenarios.
I went into labor on Sunday August 9th at 6:30pm. I was 42 weeks pregnant the next day. My first contraction! It was finally happening! Weeee!
Things got off to a strong start right from the get-go. Early on I had a couple moments of, “WHOA. This is a bit intense already…am I going to be able to keep this up for an entire day or more if need be?”.
Turns out I would 😉
Immediately, I put the tens machine we had gotten from our doula on my lower and mid back. LIFESAVER.
**100% recommend purchasing or renting a portable tens machine designed for birth if you’re headed into labor sometime soon**
I could adjust the intensity of the vibration and use the “BOOST” button for an extra kick during contractions. Super helpful with pain management.
My contractions steadily continued into the night. I stayed in bed for a lot of this time. On hands and knees, rocking forward and back through contractions.
My husband (Randy) initially started asking if things were getting worse, and I made him start asking me if things were getting better 🙂 Because better = more intense = we were getting somewhere. Gotta keep the mind right.
I had a few words that I was using in my head on my exhale breaths to remind my body to stay THERE. To stay in the moment. To relieve tension. I also had Randy repeat these words out loud to me on my exhale breaths, which was immensely helpful.
Some words that were helpful for me were: soft, open, release, easy.
I also focused on resting hard between contractions.
I tried to stand and walk the stairs in our house a few times as the night went on to use the help of gravity. It was mentally tough, but we were getting through it.
Randy called our doula to update her on the progress. She suggested I try to get into the bathtub to see if things slowed down or progressed with the warm water. Time between contractions slowed slightly, I believe, but as soon as I got out they ramped right back up.
Later in the night (times are fuzzy for me) I got into the shower, which was super helpful. The hot water on my back and on the sides of my ribcage (I was getting some pain there) was nice. I threw up during one particularly intense contraction in the shower, and I reminded myself that I wanted to feel more, rather than less.
Be careful what you wish for, right? ha!
Our doula ended up coming to our house around midnight. We went for a 30 minute walk outside to keep me moving. I swayed on Randy during contractions, and we did some pelvic tilts during contractions to try to get baby in an optimal position in the pelvis.
I had to keep going back to my words. Open, soft, release, easy. Over and over. My body felt strong and powerful. I was really confident in my body’s ability to do what it needed to do.
When we came back inside I went back to the bed. We tried a couple more positions and basically I laboured all night long.
This was where I spent most of this night and where I would be the next day, too. Randy by my side keeping me focused and the mood light (when possible!).
Monday August 10th
Around 7am I spoke with the midwives to update them on what was going on. Time between contractions had slowed at that point so they recommended I take some Tylenol and Gravol to try to get some rest, as I hadn’t slept at all.
I probably got 1-2 hours of sleep that morning. Contractions continued that day and then really started to ramp back up again around 1-2pm.
Randy and I walked in our backyard, I walked the stairs in our house, I did bodyweight squats, I bounced on the stability ball, I walked on our treadmill.
I was SO glad I felt fit and strong, and kept my strength training up through pregnancy. I needed the physical endurance at that point.
I tried to eat a little bit. Grapes, rice cakes. Nothing was appealing, but I needed some fuel. My mom had been staying with us for the last couple days (she came from across the country) and it was a huge help. The ONLY thing I wanted, strangely, was Diet Pepsi so she went out and got some and anything else I was needing.
Things were really moving along. We updated the midwives a couple times to tell them what was happening.
Later that night I got back in the shower. That rib pain was back with a vengeance on my left side and the hot water was making it manageable.
We called our doula around midnight to update her and she suggested we get in the birthing pool. Randy filled up the tub by boiling water on the stove and using a hose we had hooked up to the bathroom sink.
When I got into the tub, it WAS THE WORST EVER for me, haha. The most terrible I’d felt in now 30! hours of labor. I was so uncomfortable kneeling or being on hands and knees at that point. I needed to be standing or in a standing forward lean.
Back to the shower it was!
At this point, we called the midwives and they were on their way to our house to come check me and see where things were at.
Once they arrived they checked Steele’s heart rate and everything was strong. They checked to see how dilated I was and I was about 5cm at this point and almost fully effaced. Good news!
BUUUT…they thought there was meconium, meaning baby had a bowel movement in utero. Not awesome. They recommended we transfer to hospital as this can be a dangerous scenario for baby. We grabbed our things and off we went.
Just as we were leaving the house I asked our midwife if I’d still be able to move around freely and use the shower at the hospital. She reassured me that I would and would be able to keep labouring as I needed to.
Little did we know that things would be so, so different.
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